My son Skip is a very lovely young man. He is polite. I've seen him open doors for people. He's helped older women without being asked. He is a doll.
My daughter Zoey adores her big brother Skip. She is fun and full of life.
And when they are together I want to scratch my eyes and eat my young.
My son turned 11 and he is very much preparing for middle school. In fact, he quit washing his face so he COULD GET ACNE BECAUSE HE THOUGHT IT MADE HIM LOOK OLDER/COOLER. I may have actually said "That is the dumbest thing I've ever heard." I then explained how no one has ever looked back on their teen years and said "I wish I had only had MORE acne."
I should also disclose that I used a sarcastic tone that implied he was a dumbass. Hold on to that for a moment.
I'm not sure when my sweet son turned on me, but it has happened fairly recently. And surprisingly. I am not the doting, dingy mommy who talked baby talk to him. I've always respected him since birth and talked to him normally. I've asked his opinion and it matters. When I chaperone trips for his class, I am the one the kids run to. My husband refers to me as the school yard rock star. My son even had an issue in third grade when he didn't want me to volunteer because he was jealous-- he didn't want to share. We are close enough that he was able to verbalize this to me. Then he decided that since some of the kids didn't have moms or nice families that it was okay to share. And if he hadn't felt that way, I would have stopped volunteering.
But now he wants to find something wrong. A cause from which to rebel.
And there isn't one.
So he's trying make stuff up.
Like the "my mom is so stupid" thing. But I'm not. And it's annoying. Ask my husband. He could totally run with the "my mom is fat and out of shape" and he'd have me on that one.... but the stupid thing.... well.... it's not a great game plan. His homework does not baffle me... yet. I'm sure the day will come. He was memorizing the US presidents-- something I never had to do. So I was learning it with him. I'm lost on most of the 1800s, but I can nail the 1900s. I was explaining to him how they fit together-- suggested he learned it and not just memorized it. He fought and then he realized that learning it made it stick a little better. I gave him some ways to help him, but in general I explained how it fit together. He was happy to finish before most of his class.
We are working on the Gettysburg Address now.
He wants to kill me. Because my method works. And at the end of the day, he is my son and he wants that A. Apple. Tree. He'll put up with me to get it.
So as he's fighting through this whole love-hate thing, his sister is getting the brunt of the abuse. He is being a complete and total douchebag to her. She adores him. He is the sun and moon in her life.
He doesn't care.
His computer privileges were pulled when we caught him chatting online. To his credit, he didn't lie. Zoey would log in so he could still play Minecraft. She even got mad at me for getting mad at him for being mean to her. He didn't mean it.
She can hold her own, too. Don't misunderstand me. And that's what makes it worse. The constant bickering. He makes sarcastic comments (I told you to hold that thought from earlier...), she whines back.
The kid is 100% my son. Apple. Tree. Very sarcastic tree, I should add.
And if I have to pick sides, I have to say, she is usually in the right. Sorry. Plus, she's nicer to me these days, so of course I side with her. That's how the world works.
But the bickering... I'd rather be locked in a room without windows listening to "What Does the Fox Say" than this perpetual angry banter.
Last week we were on our way to school and they were slap fighting...in their "Be Kind" shirts. I started laughing. "Be Kind" does not apply to siblings.
So Skip and I had a chat tonight. We discussed how cool his sister really is. We discussed how he is a bully to her.
And then I stole and idea from my friend and told him he had to write 10 nice things about his sister (Thanks, Rita!). My poor friend is in Snow Day Hell in Chicago with her boys. I feel for her.
I know this is a phase. I know it will stop. I know some day I may even miss this crap.
But I won't stand for him being mean to his little sister. I can take it. She doesn't deserve it.
And just when I was about to give up on my parenting skills, I did the laundry.
There were as many pair of underwear as days since I last washed clothes. Almost. Close enough.
I guess something is sinking in.