"Why doesn't HE get in trouble for that?"
"Why does HE get to do that and I didn't?"
"You NEVER let ME do that, but you ALWAYS let HIM do that!"
Grumble, grumble. Whine, whine. Stomp, stomp. Slam, slam.
At any given time, it could be either of my boys saying those sentences. And while they never like the answers I give them, it all comes down to one simple thing. I didn't know then what I know now.
The Teenager has been my Great Experiment. The ultimate science project. My no-shades-of-gray, pass-or-fail-only test of parenting. Everything I do or say to him, Every. Single. Thing., is a first. So naturally, I either learn from it and make the necessary changes with Bug, or I continue to convince myself that my way was right the first time and it must have been the kid who was to blame for the spectacular failure of epic proportions. Or I smile, clap my hands excitedly because I never expected it to work, and try it again. Maybe tweaking it just a bit, because, you know.... you can always do better.
Which is why Bug gets to tell me NO! more often than the Teenager ever did. I learned that telling me NO! isn't always being defiant, but sometimes the only way to get me to really open my eyes and see that there's a very good reason for him not to be doing something.
And why Bug got a cell phone when he turned 12, as opposed to the Teenager being forced to wait until he was 13. I learned that just because the world was more cooperative when I was younger, and all of my friends had house phones and parents that always knew where everyone was at, doesn't mean that my boys are blessed enough to live in the same sort of world. Sometimes, a mom's just gotta be able to have some sort of tracking device on her kids.
It might also be why I'm considering locking Bug in his room, nailing the windows shut, until he's 35. I let the Teenager grow up, and look where that's gotten me? Four months away from hearing him tell me he gets to make his own decisions, and accept the consequences.
It's also gotten me four months away from getting my first tattoo, since he and I have decided that for his 18th birthday we are getting tattooed together.
Um....I might need some help there. Because despite having learned that I can conquer broken bones, stitches and multiple injuries that happen to my children? I have yet to figure out a way to NOT freak the heck out about a needle piercing my skin.
On the other hand, it's a great metaphor for parenthood. Painful and messy, requiring you to remain in one place for longer than you originally wanted to. But oh! The results? Are always beautiful and worth showing off every chance you get.