Seven More Years of This?


This summer we faced a revolting development.
Our Little Guy has become a teenager.
Now even though I call him “Little Guy” while blogging (because he is my youngest), our son is actually chronologically and physically an adult. He’s 19.
He has developmental delays, and I guess something inside him activated his “dreadful teenage odometer”. Sometime back in June.
One day he was my smiling, cheerful, friendly and helpful baby boy. The next he was sullen, moody, and secretive.
First I took him to the doctor to make sure that he wasn’t ill. Because he has sensory integration issues, we often don’t know when he’s sick unless he’s really REALLY sick. He often doesn’t realize it himself.
The doc gave him a clean bill of health, so we made an appointment with our family therapist. He spent some time with us, together and alone. His take on the change?
“Congrats!” he exclaimed. “You’ve got yourself a teenager!”
The hardest part adjusting to this was on how to handle his defiance. I know it’s a typical part of separating from the parental unit, but we’ve never been a typical family. He’s been having trouble expressing his anger, and we’ve been having trouble interpreting the cause of it. 
But we try.
For example, sometimes he has questions I can’t answer. I used to say, “Well, I don’t know the answer to that, why don’t we find out together?”
We’d go on the computer, look it up, figure it out, and all would be right with the world.
Nowadays? He just gets angry. “You’re supposed to know everything!” he insists. “How come you don’t know this?”
Then he’s mad for half the day. He can’t articulate why, and we’re left feeling helpless.
Fortunately one of Little Guy’s greatest strengths is his ability to model behavior from his peers. Unfortunately, the only displays of outright anger he’s ever been exposed to were rage attacks from when his older brother still lived at home (my older son has bi-polar disorder).
One day he thought he’d try that on for size.
This summer, we had to forgo our annual vacation. We simply couldn’t afford it. We planned a few day trips and a night or two away, but Hubby has basically worked six days a week throughout the season, and an extended family trip anywhere was just out of the question.
::sigh::  Try making Little Guy understand that. He doesn’t understand the concept of money. Even though Hubby and I are grown-ups, he doesn’t understand that we can’t actually “do” whatever we want, whenever we want. We have responsibilities and commitments. 
And with his current mood, he was having none of it. He wanted us to drop everything and fly to Disneyworld for a week or two. He obsessed about vacations, or the lack thereof all summer long. Ad nauseum.
One morning, after explaining for the umpteenth time, I’d had enough of the growling and muttering.
“I don’t want to hear it anymore,” I told him sternly. “I’m sorry you’re disappointed. We’re all disappointed. Hopefully next year we can go somewhere nice.”
He picked up my coffee cup, and slammed it down on the marble countertop, shattering it into a hundred pieces before stomping off to his room. Oh, and aimed a good kick at the antique trunk we use as an end table on the way.
Ok, it was just a coffee cup. But it was a cup my dad had presented to me when I went away to college, and I treasured it. The trunk was an item that had been in my husband’s family for generations.
“Get back here, Young Man!” I demanded. He slunk back into the room. “Give me your watch!”
“My watch? Take off my watch?”
“Yes. Give. Me. Your. Watch.” This is something he wears everywhere. He’d bathe with it if we let him.
Reluctantly he took it off and handed it over. I held it in my hands.
“How would you feel if I put this on the counter and smashed it like this?” I mimicked crushing it.
“You can’t break my things! That’s not fair!!!!”
“Why not? You’re not supposed to break my things either! You broke my special cup, so why can’t I break your special watch? Then we’d be even!”
“But I don’t want to be even!” he wailed. “I want to be odd!”
That did it. I lost it and started laughing hysterically. A few minutes later, when I was able to catch my breath, even he had a ghost of a smile on his face.
We cleaned up the broken cup together, and the crisis was averted.
If he’s just now “starting” to be a teenager, does this mean we have 7 more years of this to look forward to? Gak!
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