Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Update From the Wolf Den: Teenage Wasteland Revisited
Raise your hand if you want to be a teenager again.
You remember those years; stressing about what to wear to school but maybe wearing the wrong thing anyway, lamenting bad hair days, zits, glasses, and lack of a boyfriend or girlfriend on football game days. Bodies were changing fast, or not fast enough, parents were wierd, or not wierd enough, and our lives were opening up and spitting out mixed signals that spelled confusion at best and utter chaos at worst.
You couldn't pay me to go through that again. Try going through it with little self-control and few skills to navigate the whole process that seemed to last simply forever.
It's a fascinating journey back to the teen years via Wolf, and watching his clumsy attempts at maturity are painful reminders of teen turmoil. It has been quite difficult to explain the value of being yourself when both Yukon and I remember how much teens want to be like everyone else. But our son will never be "like everyone else", so we're trying to find a safe zone that promotes maturity without sacrificing safety. As one can imagine, however, this creates some angst, so the virtue of patience has extolled itself upon us. With a few thousand miles separating Dad and Mom from the child in question, Therapist B. becomes our ally, smoothing hurt feelings and offering explanations about things misunderstood.
It was much, much easier to manage Wolf and his behaviors when he was little; I only needed to redirect, reassign, or remove, and bingo, behavior ended. Much harder with a teenager. Too smart to be redirected and too big to remove, AS teens require some sharp eyes and quick thinking on the part of parents, teachers, and caregivers, and only sometimes do we catch a behavior. The techniques of "thought switching" and utilizing coping skills becomes even more critical for teens struggling to fit in with the desperation of a drowning man clinging to a life ring, and Wolf only gets it about a quarter of the time.
The good news is that by the time Bear reaches this stage, I think we'll be well-versed in Teenage Discussion Forums. No escape, little brother. We're all over this teen thing.
A fact Wolf was rather proud to hear this morning.