Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Braden's continued Growth Pains

     Has your child ever told you F.U.? Mine has. I'm not proud of it. It wasn't to my face, but shouted outside our rental unit so that the whole neighborhood could here. I chuckled, bemused.
     Deanne wondered at my reaction.
     I said, “What am I supposed to do? Slug him in the face? This is the way he vents. He doesn't have friends to discuss things with so this is how he releases the pressure when he can't take it anymore—he acts up or blows up at us. It's normal for a kid his age. Beats doing drugs or getting someone pregnant.”
     I'd sent him outside to walk up and down the street because he'd already lost it when I berated him for his socks on the floor that had been there for three days and then again for not picking them up after I told him to. True, I lost it myself first thing he got home from school and I scolded him about his sloppy room for the thousandth time, but his belligerent sassy talk—“Why are you in such a bad mood today?”—was rude, disrespectful, and uncalled for, thus, I wanted him out of the house for an extended blow-off-steam time out.
     But I didn't let his shouting Fuck you to me stand as if nothing had happened because then he'd do it again and again. So as he walked by the house on his loop around, I stopped him and said, “I'm this close to pulling you from your job” (work pressures were a big part of his blow out—he's excited and terrified about his growing independence), my thumb and forefinger held an inch apart. “When you get back, you tell me how you're going to rectify what just happened. Work is nothing. Nothing! It's a privilege, not a right. Everything starts at home. You know that.”
     He got home an hour-and-a-half later and snuck into his room. I, already in bed by my usual early bedtime, called him and asked, “Well?”
     “Sorry Dad,” he said and sounded sincere enough.
     “That's it? What did I ask you to do?”
     “I don't know what you expect me to say! He snapped, aggressive and snappy.
     “Alright, no job. I'll call your boss and let him know tomorrow. You can work as much as you want after you leave home—for the rest of your life. It's too much for you now with school. Maybe by next year things will change and we'll let you reapply. Go to bed.”
     He muttered under his breath, slammed things about, and settled down awhile later.
     Deanne and I hashed it out whether it was the best thing to do or not. I said let's pray about it and discuss it tomorrow because I'm too tired.
     By morning, I had a possible word from God. Braden had messed up his application form by miswriting his social security number. (Duh!) I'd checked and signed his initial permission form, which was fine, but while rewriting the info. on his official application, he wrote a “3” instead of a “2.” When Human Resources filed his withholding info. with Social Security, etc., his application got kicked back by Homeland Security, so he had to go in person to the employer's head office to get it fixed within nine days. I thought he should fix his mess up regardless of whether he'd continue to work or not, else, where'd be the lesson? Also, God possibly planted in me the notion of mercy. Braden doesn't deserve another chance. But neither do I for all the sins I've committed and recommitted against God. If I'm merciful with Braden, perhaps God will be merciful with me? (Does that make me selfish? I also like Braden out of the house being productive on weekends. We're also thinking there might possibly be a future career connected with this employer since Braden loves cooking and is fairly good at it...)
    So I told Braden, “Though you don't deserve it, I feel God might be calling me to be merciful. Do you still want your job?”
     “Yes,” he said.
     “Then go get your stuff fixed tomorrow and if you show a change of heart—no more blow outs—there's a chance we'll let you work—no promises—on a day-to-day basis. Any more blow-outs, and you're out.”
     “Yes, Dad.”
     Anything else?”
     Thank you for letting me keep my job.”
     “By the way,” I told him a little later, “since you didn't come up with anything like I asked, you get to do all chores until further notice.”

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