Over the last few weeks I have been polling my friends and colleagues who have boys just to confirm that my son is not really the devil incarnate. This led to a very interesting conversation with another attorney friend, who has a teenage son. Not only did he confirm that B's behavior -defiance, testing limits, etc.- is completely normal for his age, but went on to advise that this behavior is not likely to change until he is in his late teens/early 20's. IN FACT, it might actually get WORSE as he gets older. He advised that studies have shown that boys actually STOP learning how to be common-sensical when they become teenagers. They can't help it - their brain stops maturing; so the reason that teenage boys act so dumb is, well, because they ARE so dumb!
As frustrating as that makes the future sound, it's actually a relief to me. There have been times over the last several months where I have consulted professional friends regarding whether B needs psychological intervention. I work a lot with kids that have been diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder and, frankly, see many of those traits in my son at one time or another. I also work with their parents, and there is nothing so sad as a parent trying to help a kid when it doesn't work. It is one of my deepest fears that one of my children will have a psychological or psychiatric condition that can not be "cured."
So, finding out that B's behavior - no matter how awful, loud, mean and, ultimately pointless (because honestly, does he ever actually WIN? - NO) - is completely normal is a relief. It also makes the next several years seem less daunting. He's a smart, willful kid, so I don't see him making this easy on us, but at least I can take comfort (when I am secretly wanting to wring his neck) that he's a normal kid. It makes dealing with the disrespect and conflict a little easier for me to handle. After the confrontation, I don't have to worry that he's literally out of control and how to deal with it; I just have to prepare myself for the next battle. And keep reminding myself that things will get better, things WILL get better...things will get better....(in about 10 years - but that part, I choose to ignore!)
So, maybe things are not so much changed at home; I just am dealing with it in a more pragmatic way... Anyway, to all of you out there fighting the fight to raise good, kind boys and men, I commend you! We have our work cut out for us, but I know we can do it!