Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Busted Computer

     This one hurts. Sort-of.
     What happened was Braden, in a fit of pique, busted his laptop computer that we gave him a couple years ago over his knee while Deanne, Pene, and Jaren looked on.
     Deanne said, You broke it.
     He said, No I didn't.
     I heard something crack, she said.
     Braden opened it—it looked fine—and turned it on. The usual whir followed, but when the screen lit up, there was a shattered spider web design in an opaque white sheet that obscured all the computer desktop except for a few partially obscured words deep in the periphery (I later checked).

     Jaren and Pene said, Ahhhh...
     It had been building to this ever since I decided a few months ago that his lazing around and doing nothing productive (other than idle reading, listening to radio, and over-napping) will not suffice during weekends. He must do something more, something productive. After all, he's sixteen and should be out with friends or exercising or doing some hobby—in essence preparing for life after home.
     But nearly every time I'd confronted him to go do something, he threw a temper tantrum (resentful stares, stamped feet, hissing, growling, etc.) and even outside in the carport, continued his do-nothing defiance until I disciplined him by sending him up and down the street, which at least counted as exercise.
     This was painful for me because of course he tried to make me feel like an unreasonable jerk, whereas I saw him as giving me no choice: either leave him alone or tell him what to do and get hated on. I wasn't going to let him rot away all weekends and do nothing worthwhile since he has so much growing up to do before he turns eighteen, so I'd confronted him and tolerated his stormy antics time after time as best I could (not very well).
     I told Deanne even before the incident that this is natural and healthy for a sixteen-year-old. Christian counselors advice that even in the best adjusted families, these years are push and pull between teen and parents and there's no getting around it. It's normal and temporary and just do your best and keep the end result (healthy young adult) in sight, though it may seem impossibly far or unreachable at times.
     My friend Norm told me his son Darren (a recent college graduate now job hunting) had a mental block against (high school) employment. Every time Norm would get on him about it, he'd act up. He told me it's not worth stressing too much about it.
     So I'm supposed to just let him get away with his slovenly ways all weekends long? I asked.
     I didn't say that, he said. I said, It's not worth getting overly worked up about as it's not beneficial to either him or you or the family. Sometimes a kid just isn't ready for the next big step. It takes awhile for some. And if they're not ready, it's impossible for them to do.
     I don't get it. When I was a kid (and even to this day), I had no trouble keeping active with friends, sports, or hobbies. I gave Braden almost carte blanche—whatever he wanted as long as it's active. I gave him suggestions: wood work with scrap lumber and my tools outside. Give a classmate a call to go hang out. Exercise. Do any merit badge (we have over twenty hand-me-down merit badge pamphlets). Build models. Play my guitar. Whatever. He'd just growled resentment and to show me up, did more of the same idle reading or lying or sitting about doing nothing productive on the sly until I'd catch him and send him again up and down the street.
     Deanne said he calmed after breaking the computer.
     I doubted it, but said there is no way we are buying him a replacement.
     I later told Braden that when we gave it to him (it was a gift from my sister to me, which I didn't want), we could have kept it for ourselves and given him the old junky one in his room (that is now kaput). And don't ever forget it. And that I expect him to do all his homework with pencil and paper—the way I didno excuses.
     If he doesn't yet feel remorse, I expect he very soon will as he did virtually all his home work on his computer (and he hates to write manually).
     He has mellowed some since, but God help us through the upcoming storms...

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