The first time I ever heard this phrase was in a Facebook group from an incredibly wise parent. Apparently the etymology of this phrase is Polish and means -one is not responsible for controlling or changing a volatile or delicate situation.
We were chatting about the emotional roller-coaster that we seem to get on when our kids aren’t doing well. When they are up, we are up; when they are down, we are down. I know it may feel like we just want our kids to be okay, but to tie our emotions and happiness to the frequent changing moods of a teenager will pretty much guarantee someone is going to go crazy; and trust me it ain’t going to be them, it is going to be us.
This was most keenly exhibited this past weekend. My son and I were in a comfortable flow each respecting the boundaries and routine we had established, or so I thought.
Our house rule is that cell phones and laptops must be charging in my room by 10pm. Penalties accumulate every five minutes electronics are not handed in- 5 minutes equals 30 mins less the next day.
I have to say both my boys have been great about it. But this past Friday my oldest son stood in the door way and went full blown lawyer on me-Why do I have to do this? It’s stupid! I need my independence yada yada yada. The more he talked the more I twitched.
All I kept thinking was, why are we doing this again, why now? He said he wasn’t going to turn them in and I could do what I wanted to him. He walked away with both the laptop and cell phone.
I was pissed off. I wasn’t pissed that he chose to not follow the rule, I was pissed at how it made me feel. His verbal badgering and attacking put me right back into an old pattern of hating his behavior, which in turn makes it difficult for me to see straight or think rationally, and like the kid. I chose to leave it alone for the rest of the night, I would address it fresh the next morning.
Pre-treatment, I would have stormed into his room, grabbed the phone, shutting down the Wi-Fi, which made everyone else angry. The cell phone is a huge trigger for me and I am ashamed to say that in earlier years I destroyed two of his phones by losing control and smashing them. I of course was only punishing myself because I had to replace them. When it came to the cell phone issue he and I could be considered golden glove contenders in the ring.
The year and a half of treatment wasn’t just for him it was for me as well. I had to dig deep and look at my patterns and history, often referred to as Family of origin.
Why did I get so crazy? Why did I have to win at all costs? Why couldn’t I take a breath, and not blurt out shit right away? So the next day I went used all the tools in my therapy toolbox and attempted to calmly talk to him about the cell phone. I got the cold shoulder and a declaration that he was still mad at me. Hey at least he was communicating clearly, I left him alone.
I will admit it really bothered me that he was mad at me and ignoring me. I sat on that for a day and then started to think, why am I allowing his displeasure with me, to effect my mood. I didn’t do anything wrong other than be a parent, enforcing house rules.
It also made me take a beat and think about what was going on with him that he did this 180 about the phone? Yet another new thing for me, in the past I wouldn’t have stopped to think beyond how I felt, to see how he felt. Agh…….. Good parenting is exhausting.
And the drama continued. I apparently got under his skin again last evening. At 8pm he announced he was going out. Now based upon past history I knew he needs some cool down time to get his thoughts together. It usually involves him taking a walk or skateboarding.
But there was no way I was okay with a 16 year going rouge in the dark at 8pm. I calmly stated, if you need to go somewhere dad or I will be happy to take you, but I do not approve of you going out in the dark at this hour. I calmly (or at least I think I appeared calm) turned my back and walked into the house.
This text exchange was the only contact I had with him until he walked back in the front door. I think I deserve kudos for not losing my mind or attempting to hunt him down and rip his face off.
8:00 pm Child leaves on a skateboard in the dark
8:47 Me: Please be careful. Thank you.
9:31 Me: Are you coming home at some point?
9:33 Son: Yes . Sorry. I need to blow off steam. I’ll be back soon.
9:34 Me: I know and understand that. Can you please tell me where you are?
9:51 Me: It is almost 10pm I am getting worried. Can I pick you up somewhere?
9:52 Son: Can you pick me up at 10:30
9:52 Me: Where are you?
9:55 Son: So you can?
9:55 Me: I do not know where you are, so until you tell me I can’t answer you.
9:59 Me: I am going to go to bed now. Get home safely please.
11:16 Me: Will you be coming home
11:18 Son: Yeah I’m on my way. I thought you were asleep?
11:30 pm Child walks in the front door
He then opens my bedroom door and I say, leave your cell phone. He does and says, I am sorry. He then mumbled I guess you don’t want to talk now? I asked him if he wanted to talk. He said yes, I invited him into the room.
He sat on the floor next to my bed in the dark and we talked for an hour. We talked about what caused his reactions and how trust is a two way street. We talked about what was really bothering him since Friday, and issue with a friend that had nothing to do with anything I did. We talked about ways to handle this in the future because I can’t go through with that again. We talked about how easy it would be for him to get killed by a car in the dark. He understood that one way too easily, which makes me think he had a fairly close call somewhere.
He told me where he went and who he was with. I asked if those kids vaped, and if they were good kids. His response was, “Are you saying good kids don’t vape?” Ahhhhhhh, he got me with all my judgement pouring out. I recanted and said to him, “We know good kids vape, but I am concerned about you being around them based upon this last year.”
He was honest and said, “Some do and some don’t, but they know my history and they they do not do it around me.
Whether I believe that to be true or not, I was impressed with his ability to admit that he was even around kids who vaped. I have come to terms with the fact that I can’t demand my 16 year old avoid every kid who makes the decision to vape. There are way too many of them, he would have trouble getting through a day.
The conversation ended at almost 1 am . I have to say it was pretty amazing we were family who were able to see each other as people and not as adversaries. Each time an encounter like this happens, we both develop a little more street cred with each other.
I adopted a new mantra this past year.
Open my mind and heart before opening my mouth.