Now that TechnoBoy and The Mercenary are nearly teens, they’ve been working hard to perfect some of the more famous adolescent behaviors. Grunts, mood swings, sleeping late, eating at odd hours, and ohhhhh, the angry glares are all part of the repertoire. It started last spring, but really got full-blown over the summer.
Once school started, life was really difficult because everyone was stressing out over all the new things to do, and that added to the teen angst going on around here. The entire month of September we were all drowning in angst. Most days I felt like a ping-pong ball, bouncing between spats and fits of temper.
Last Monday everything came to a head with a pencil argument, and I wound up telling The Mercenary in particular that he had anger issues. He needed a half-hour or so to calm down, but guess what?!!? We didn’t have any massive arguments or difficulty the rest of the week. I looked at him Sunday and asked, “When is the last time you got really angry?” and the answer was “Not for several days.”
I issued a challenge to the kids in Sunday School this week: to find a way to be Christlike to someone who is causing them to be angry. Just one way…just one time this week.
On Monday morning, The Mercenary was already in a mood. And by mood, I mean MOOD. Seemed like everything anyone did was cause for an irritated response from him. After an hour or so of deflecting snarls and trying to redirect conversations away from bickering, I looked at him and said, “Dude. I’m not trying to pick on you here, but yesterday I challenged you to find a way to be nice to someone when you’re angry. Already today you’re very…reactive to everything that’s going on. I wouldn’t call it angry per se, but sheesh. This is intense.”
He just looked at me, sighed heavily and walked away with his book.
He settled down and managed to get along with the world the rest of the day.
I love this new responsiveness. It’s so much nicer than the way things used to go. I just gotta find a way to tell him without annoying the heck out of him.
Earnest Parenting: help for parents who need to feel hopeful.