Dr. Dolittle’s pushmi-pullyu animal and raising kids

My recollection of physics class is vague, at best.  
(I love this picture, had to share.)

I do remember “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” Never has that truth been so painfully clear as it is during this season of raising teenage boys.

These aren’t bad kids, mind you. They’re just young men on the verge of adult independence, and they keep flapping their big, stinky wings and threatening to jump out of the nest before I’m ready. I’m convinced they make as many choices as possible based on how many gray hairs they believe it will produce on my scalp.

I know, I know. They don’t. They aren’t even thinking of me when they do what they do. “This is all normal teenager stuff.” “I deserve it because of all the horrors I inflicted upon my own parents.” Yada, yada, yada. “It’s karma come back to haunt me.” Whaaateeevveeerrrrrr. (Can you hear the sarcasm?)

So OS (Oldest Son – I don’t know if that’s proper text lingo, I just made it up.) has this long-distance relationship going via text messages and phone calls. Yesterday, he brings home a kitten he found at the recycling center, with the intent of giving the feline to said girl as a gift.

Note: OS is allergic to cats. Husband is allergic to cats. Dogs in home like to EAT cats. Said cat is currently dwelling in my little camper where I keep my craft and sewing stuff.

“Um, how are you going to get it there?” I ask, aware that TG (text girlfriend) lives more than four hours away.

“Oh, I’ll just drive over there to her house Saturday.”

My face freezes into that “mother” look.

First, there’s a nasty winter storm blowing in, and the trip would entail him driving over one of the worst passes in the state on a weekend with his limited driving experience.

Second, we don’t “do” the one-on-one dating thing. Family dates, church group stuff with adults present, and boy A and girl B never left alone, even if it means little brother is forced to serve as evil chaperone for brief periods of time.

Third reason, and possibly the most important one, I AM NOT OKAY WITH THIS, AND I’M THE MOTHER, AND BECAUSE I SAID SO, THAT’S WHY.


Now we’ve entered the negotiation stage. Where OS keeps hammering away at me, trying to convince me that I need to give him “more freedom.”

HELLO???? Has this long-haired, eyebrow and ear pierced, heavy metal t-shirt and spiked skull bracelet-wearing child looked in the mirror lately?

He subtly hints that the consequences of not doing so would be regrettable. This sort of threatened action, of course, triggers my automatic “jerk back on the reins” reflex, and I consider divesting him of all personal rights and property and setting up a Guantanamo Bay-style incarceration center in the spare room. Waterboarding instead of snowboarding this year, yep. Sounds like a plan.

But even as I contemplate the relative peace of having him stowed away in a giant playpen, (crate training for teens?) I know that won’t help. It won’t help him grow up into maturity and the fullness of who he’s called to be in Christ. It won’t help him become a man. He’ll just be an immature boy in a man’s body. And we have more than enough of those running around.

Nor do I get to throw my hands up in the air and resign as a parent, any more than I could have quit when he was three and refused to remove his Batman suit for weeks on end.

So we have this strange dichotomy, like Dr. Dolittle’s pushmi-pullyu animal. We’re going to have to work together to get anywhere.

Image Credit: Movie still from Dr. Dolittle, 20th Century Fox, 1967. 

I need to find places to yield to his desire for greater independence, and he needs to yield to my desire to keep him safe, healthy, and whole. I have to listen for the leading of the Holy Spirit, like a handheld GPS, guiding me through the swamps and deserts and dangerous terrain, and trust Him to speak to my OS as well, to give him grace for the place he’s in.

Our ultimate goals are the same. I hope he realizes that.

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4 thoughts on “Dr. Dolittle’s pushmi-pullyu animal and raising kids

  1. Karla Akins says:

    uhm, are you sure our boys aren't twins separated at birth? Everything is identical (except the age):
    1. Heavy metal Demon Hunter t-shirt complete with spike-bracelet (or whatever else you call it) and hoody with that awful picture on it.

    2. Long-distance girlfriend in Michigan. This summer he decided he was going to go see her. She lives in Michigan — he lives in Indiana. It was a huge lesson for him. He lost — no really he LOST his car over it and is now car-less. We, too, are a courtship only family.

    He is 18 and still living in this house and attending college.

    Raising teens is HARD WORK! Hang in there! If I had a formula for you to use, I'd bottle it and give it to you, but I don't. Other than PRAYER and lots of it.

  2. Jill Kemerer says:

    This is so relatable! Kids–uggh!! Good luck. And keep us posted on your triumphs with teens. I need it for future reference!

  3. Niki Turner says:

    Karla, I'm beginning to wonder if we need to research our family geneaologies! : ) I'll pray for yours, you pray for mine… My husband is planning to transport said son, with his brothers, over the mountains this weekend for a supervised and chaperoned "date." At least I'll be at a women's conference and got "excused" from this trip!

    Jill, I'll keep you posted… in some ways it's better than when they were small, and it some ways it's worse. Though definitely not as bad as I'd imagined!

    Patti, thanks for stopping by! I'm on my way to your new blog right now, looking forward to it.

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