Thursday, November 01, 2007

Halloween + Pre-Adolescence = Headache

We had a less than typical Halloween here. Usually I’m all over making costumes, getting a start in late September. This year, my apathy was palpable. I started working on M’s costume about 4:30 yesterday afternoon.

So, S was a butterfly. We already had the wings from a previous year, so I just put her in pink clothing, put on the wings and we were done there. M and C had complementary costumes: M was a tree to C’s lumberjack. C was easy: jeans, plaid shirt, prop axe. With M, I needed to hot glue leaves to a tshirt.

When I finally started with the hot glue and the leaves, I realized I didn’t have enough hot glue sticks to finish the job. Ugh. Had to borrow from a neighbor. I finished it up just in time, and M and C made quite the pair. M would go up to houses, say, “Trick or treat. I’m in a rush; there’s a lumber jack after me,” then run off. Then C would go up and say, “Did you see which way the tree went?” At some point, S grabbed the prop axe and was carrying it around. At that point she was no longer a butterfly – she was a butterfly with an attitude.

Beyond the costume issues, C is going through some (I think) fairly typical pre-adolescent stuff. It’s hard to watch, and I am doing my best to help him through it, but it’s frustrating on so many levels. It’s complicated by email communication.

The latest episode started a few days ago. His friend M sent him a chain email (that’s about all they have to send to each other at this age). C replied, “STUPID!” We had a talk about that – about appropriate email communication. I said 1) if you don’t want to get emails like that, reply kindly. For example, “Hey, M, please don’t send me those emails in the future. I really don’t like them.” Better, just delete and ignore. And 2) writing in all-caps is like shouting, so don’t. Finally, 3) it can be difficult to convey emotion accurately on email. Something may be written in jest, but come off mean, etc. So if in doubt about how to convey something, best not to try, and also try to keep an open mind and a sense of humor when reading email.

So then C emails M again with, “SORRY ABOUT THAT.” M replied, “You better be!” with some big formatting. Ugh.

Now, I suspect, M was replying with humor. Even if he wasn’t, I talked to C about letting the whole issue drop. Just leave it.

Then C came home from school yesterday in quite a state. It took me a few minutes to get it out of him, and by the end he was nearly in tears. Apparently he suggested to M that they trick or treat together in a nearby neighborhood last week, but never followed up. Even if he had followed up, going out together was unlikely – M has three younger siblings and extremely social and gregarious parents, so likely there was some other plan already in place. Then yesterday at school, M was shouting across the lunchroom to another boy about going out into that boy’s neighborhood. C felt intentionally excluded, and I can understand that, though I doubt he really was. I tried to talk to him about that, but he really didn’t want to hear what I was saying. He was pretty committed to those feelings.

After this conversation, C said he wanted to email M back and apologize again. I specifically and firmly told him no, he may not email back again. He must drop it. He must give it time. No, no, no.

I naively thought that was the end of it. We went out trick or treating ourselves and C enjoyed himself.

This morning I checked C’s email (as I do regularly – he’s only 11 after all), and he snuck onto the other computer yesterday and emailed M. The content of that email is, “sorry about any hard feelings. if you want me out your life let me know (you would not be the the first, easy to see to see y huh.”


I’m so frustrated. I feel sad that he has these feelings. I wish I could protect him from that. I feel upset that he specifically did what I told him not to do. I’m frustrated that I have to wait until tonight to address this with him. I’m anxious for whether or not M has actually read the message and what he might say at school.

I think part of his response is from being tired. The last week had been exciting with his brother’s birthday, baseball and other little things. I think he needs to sleep in on Saturday morning. Another part of this is personality differences. C *is* a bit sensitive. He tends to want fewer closer friendships, and that doesn’t always work at this age. (M is quite social and has *many* buddies).

I don’t know quite how to resolve this. I’ll talk to him, of course. We’ll suspend email privileges for a bit (I’ve already changed the password on his account). But I also think we’ll have more issue like this that we’ll have to work through over the next few years.

1 comment:

Pantheist Mom said...

He'll get it - he will. C is such an ultra-intelligent, sensitive kid. Of COURSE he's going to figure the whole social scene out eventually. He's just going through the learning process for social interaction and this is one of the many inevitable stumbles he's going to make. He'll get up and brush himself off and keep going, just like toddler C learning to walk. It sure is painful to watch though, isn't it? You could not EVER pay me enough to go through the angst of middle school again, and watching our kids go through it is going to be miserable. Gads.
LOL, and he hasn't even gotten into the whole girl/boy/dating thing yet!! J, you and I both are both in for a ride. Deep breaths. :-)