“Ill never grow big!” she stomped her feet in protest of the lack of over night growth. “Im just….stuck!” My repeated attempts to remind her that she wouldn’t grow over night – to stop measuring, and to wait a few weeks – fell on deaf ears. A few hours, and a hundred marks later, she proudly declared that she had indeed, grown. Having pushed a chair to the wall, she marked her heart out – pencil marks jabbing out in every direction, she was proud of her accomplishment, it didn’t matter if she was actually that tall. She was content. Happy. Grown up.
If only it were that easy.
Lately I seem to be stuck. Stuck in that spot where I am tempted to stomp my feet and scream “Im just stuck!”
The problems that come with raising teenagers, or a teenager for the time being, are big. Bigger than four year olds growth problems. Much bigger than a kiss can fix, and not ever something you can simply google the solution to. These problems are real, mature, grown up, and often times – problems I simply do not have the answers to. Problems that I too, have wrestled with, and have yet to find the answers to. Problems, that I am not cut out for.
Therapy, counselors, they all seem to be the way of our life right now. The words they have to tell me – words that no one likes to hear, yet sit close to my heart, taunting me. As if they weren’t real, I try to imagine them away. If I could just brush them under the carpet one more time, then maybe. MAYBE. We would be ok. But I know that’s not the truth, and I know now more than ever, I need to suck up and find answers. And I try. But doing my part to stay stable is not something I can do forever.
Day in and day out – I get up, go to work, come home, make dinner, and see two boys off to bed. And when I wake up in the morning, there is nothing more that I want to do then go back to sleep and forget about the day. Because the day? Is too daunting sometimes. The fact that I am walking on a slippery slope scares me to a place I have no words for.
But I have to keep the appearance up, that I know something I don’t, in hopes that once again we can fool our way through yet another mess.
“I told him if he needed to talk to someone, that you would be willing to listen.” The words hit me like a ton of bricks. Do I really have them all fooled? Have I really bluffed my way this far? Do they really believe that I am capable of raising a boy with problems that I don’t know how to solve? “Of course, he can always come back here too, if he needs to before next week.” My already shaky confidence plummets. “Of course not. Its just the line they feed everyone.”
Not knowing what else to do, I invite him on a run. Running, I tell him, helps me clear his mind – and although he looks at me as if I just asked him to run the streets naked, he grudgingly comes. Nothing but the sounds of heavy panting, and a lawn mower in the distance. At the top of the hill we stop, to catch our breath before continuing down. The sun beats down hard, and I replay multiple conversations in my head before I blurt out some discombobulated nonsense about being able to listen if he needs.
I remind him that Im not his parent, and that sometimes that makes it easier to talk to someone – when its not your parent. Then I remind him, once again, that if he needs anything – to make sure he speaks up, because Im also not very good at reading minds. I say a few other things, and then leave the sap on the top of the mountain as I run down the hill – leaving him behind to catch up if he feels so inclined.
The past few weeks he has barely spoken to me. Barely uttering the needed words for survival. Yes and no. I try not to, but its hard not to take so much of it to heart. The three people I care about the most – all struggling in different ways, ways that I cant help in.
He runs past me, but before he does he slows for a few seconds and says “You might not be my dad, but you sure run like an old man.” smiles, and runs past.
I want to “Grow up.” I want to stop being so stuck, but I cant help but worry. And if I could, I would just hop on that chair, draw a few crooked lines, and declare it good. If only life were so simple, and all problems could easily be erased. If only.