I knew this would happen one day -- my teen is no longer interested.
Sarah Bowman: The little boy that still crawled into bed to snuggle with us at 10 years old (and 11 and 12 and even occasionally at 13) has turned into a grunting, non-communicative creature who goes through cereal at the rate of a box every two days, and shops online for athletic jerseys and baseball hats. That is, when he's not IMing with his friends -- many of whom turn out to be girls.
My husband always worried that he was too much of a "momma's boy." That used to mean that he'd run to me (not Daddy) if he was hurt, throw out a hug to anyone that needed one, and was easy with his feelings and affection. But lately, this momma isn't getting anything more than a nod in the morning from her 14-year-old. The timing of his turn away from me coincides suspiciously with a newfound attraction to girls. We all know what Freud would say about that -- and chances are the old Austrian was right. My son has a girlfriend with whom he texts back and forth from morning to night. I've never met this creature, and suddenly she -- not me -- is the center of his emotional world.
My daughter pushed off from me at roughly the same age. She closed herself in her room, rolled her eyes at me, and talked on the phone to her friends endlessly. Whenever the estrangement was unbearable, activities as simple as a haircut or a manicure would start the conversation flowing again. Although they sound frivolous, the physicality of those activities kept me connected to her through the periods when she was unsure about how to talk about troubles at school or bumps in the road with her friends.
Maybe all of my son's grunts are just placeholders for the conversation that he doesn't know how to start. If I'm struggling to adjust to the new normal, it's probably confusing for him, too. Recently, I have found that if I have an afternoon to take him anywhere -- even grocery shopping will do -- the parallel activity works as a nice conversation starter. I start to loosen up the bruised feelings, and he starts speaking in full sentences. Soon we're back to normal again. As long as I don't hug him.
|Sarah Bowman is the Co-Founder of Kids Off the Couch.com. She has a BA in Semiotics from Brown University, worked in the film business as a studio executive before becoming a writer. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, and two teenagers.|