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Is There a “Reboot” Button for My Teenage Son?

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As the mother of an almost-14-year-old male specimen, I have extensive experience with teenage development and behavior. This specimen is one that I have researched thoroughly for recurring patterns of maturation as well as chronological brain development, physical, social, and emotional milestone achievement, and other intangibles such as resiliency and societal awareness. I have charted each point of development and checked in with appropriate medical staff to determine success as well as possible areas of concern. I have invested high quantities of unconditional love and clocked in well over one million billable hours. I have made sure to allow for mistakes, self-learning, and personal advocacy whenever possible, and use natural consequences as a way to learn and avoid repetitive mistakes.

So after this immense investment, why does this specimen suddenly need a re-boot? If my iPhone functioned this way I would do a full system reset or ask for an update to fix the issue.

My usually rational, happy, bright-eyed boy who loved everything and everyone has suddenly been replaced by a look-alike version who is much larger but needs a new memory card. He forgets things that I believed I had hardwired in: chewing with a closed mouth; urinating in the actual bowl of toilet; washing one’s hands with both soap and water; brushing all the hair, not just the two sections in front; answering questions directed at him; and keeping those eyeballs at sea level rather than rolling around in his head when his mother requests anything of him.

Clearly the wiring is faulty.

I seriously question my ability to make it through the next seven to eight years. I went from being the person my son ran to at full-speed upon entering a room to barely worthy of a nod or grunt. I never know who is walking through that front door after school; some days I am reprimanded for asking maddening questions such as, “Would you like a snack?”and other days I am greeted with a warm, “How are you?”His food preferences have also changed. My fruit- and vegetable-lover has been replaced by a cheeseburger-fast-food-obsessed carnivore.

And don’t get me started on the puberty questions that for whatever reason are being directed my way. My son has an exceptional, very active, and hands-on father who resides in our home and is accessible to him 24/7 if not in person then by phone, FaceTime or Skype. Why then am I the one asked certain “placement”questions and other such specific male-themed questions? Wasn’t I just told 10 minutes ago that Daddy’s cool factor is significantly higher than mine? Besides, you love your phone so much; don’t you have an app to answer that for you?? Nevertheless, after a quick dialogue with my husband I always return with the answer. After all, I am Mommy and at this point I’ll take what I can get. His reassuring smile and hug kind of makes up for it—when they come.

This teen specimen of mine is a lot like a baby: Some days all he seems to do is eat and sleep. The only difference is now he makes time to check texts and emails while having a diaper change using the restroom. I have yet to mention the most dreaded part of this: hormones. Moodiness equivalent to me in my third trimester of pregnancy. This morning after eating a breakfast of eggs and banana bread with fruit he asked for green olives and peanut butter. If this was my daughter she’d be urinating on a stick as I type this.

All I am saying is, has anyone noticed that maybe all this teenage angst could be avoided with a simple system update, or a “refresh”button to go back to the smiling 5-year-old who was here just 10 years ago?

After spending the morning updating my computer software I got a hug and a smile before he got on the bus, so maybe I am onto something big…


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