Aw, man, it's happening. Just like I've been dreading, but hoping-against-hope to avoid...my newly-teenaged son has begun indisputably acting like...a teenager. Bugger! (Trying out some British slang today. Poetic license, deal with it, all of you...nosey parkers!) I started noticing little things--like the fact that Derek no longer comes to greet me immediately upon arriving home from school, but rather grabs a snack and buries his nose in his iPod instead. And while we're on the subject of his electronic "friends", sometime in the past few months he's developed an alarming tendency to spend long hours behind the closed door of his room, texting or catching up on sports scores or watching YouTube clips. (Incidentally, this used to be time he would spend reading for pleasure or conversing with his family, so I suspect we'll be chatting about restoring the balance between "intellectual pursuits" and "mindless virtual entertainment" very soon...)
Then there's his hormonally-challenged-boy-brain at work...or...not. All I can say is, "thank goodness for the computer grade-reporting system" so that Mom can keep a watchful eye on things and resolve issues as they inevitably arise. For example: I recently noticed a suspicious E on an English quiz. (FYI, this is the letter which has replaced the familiar, clear F-for-failure. I can't even understand what E's supposed to stand for..."Extremely Bad?" Oh, don't ask me, I just work here...) Anyway, this was unusual, as he always does very well in that class. (You know, "English being his Mother Tongue...and stuff". In the interest of non-plagarism and respectful writing, do I have to cite that? If so, Anthony Edwards' character, Lance, speaking to John Cusack's "Gib" in the 80s classic The Sure Thing.) But we know from experience that sometimes grades get entered wrong, for whatever reason, so I have learned to ask him about it before jumping to conclusions. When I brought it up, however, he ducked his head and sheepishly admitted that "I forgot to do the back." Dude. Reaaallyyyyy? (Mentally smacking myself in the forehead, wondering what the HECK is wrong with my child these days...) Evidently his teacher speaks his unspoken language--that would be "absentminded thirteen-year-old"--fluently (same movie, BTW), since she agreed to let him come in during lunch and (hopefully) repair the damage. What else could I say? "Um, why don't you make sure to always turn the paper over, just in case," I lamely concluded. "Yeah, that's what Dad said," he replied. (Gee, ya think, hotshot?)
The past two weeks he's also forgotten to fill out his Practice Journal for Band...which he's been responsible for doing since, oh, September. Alas, he managed to top that on Sunday afternoon, when he casually mentioned that he needed to view a cartoon, sitcom, or movie and complete a worksheet referencing the types of humor used. Time passed, with much leisure activity being pursued, such as video games and outdoor playtime. At about 8:45 p.m. it suddenly occurred to me to ask whether he'd completed his assignment. "Uh, no, I didn't have anything to watch," he mumbled. I wonder if one's blood can actually boil, because I could feel my temperature skyrocketing as I gaped at him in disbelief. "So what do you intend to do about it?" I demanded. "I don't know, I guess I'll write something..." he weakly attempted. Okay, let's get this straight: you failed to address this at any point during the weekend, procrastinated until bedtime on the night before it was due, neglected to ask for assistance in choosing a suitable video...and now you plan to just MAKE UP the whole thing? Ohhhhh, abso-freakin'-lutely not, my son. So, have fun sitting here watching a stupid episode of Phineas and Ferb that I found for you online, and attempting to find parallels between Disney animation and...Shakespearean comedy. Good luck with that. (Guaranteeing that next time he'll opt to do it himself, yeah? Score one for Mom...)
But the crowning gem of this month (so far...yikes...) was yet to come. Yesterday my cherished offspring relayed the following to me: "I had to write a letter of apology to the substitute we had the other day...and I need you to sign it." My raised eyebrow, scowl of disapproval, and loaded silence cued him to continue, "Well, she told [our Band teacher--name withheld to protect the...long-suffering] we were 'an unpleasant rowdy group of men in the back of the room'...and apparently a bunch of other stuff he didn't want to repeat in front of the class." When he trailed off, I let out an exasperated sigh and dropped my head into my hands. As I was gathering myself and formulating the lecture to come, he spoke up brightly, "But I don't believe that. I'm a ray of sunshine!" Oh. Good. Grief. I suspect this is one of those instances when it'd just be best to sign off on the bloody thing and put it behind us. At least it wasn't a Principal's Office offense, or a Detention Infraction, right? That's what I'll keep telling myself...until the blessed end of 7th grade...is it June yet?