Dear sixteen year old son,
In some ways I feel like I need to apologize to you, since in the game of genetics roulette you got the short end of the stick in terms of nasty personality traits. You have my temper, your father's inability to ever hear a sentence in the way it was actually spoken, and my father's supreme conviction that you're always right and everyone else is always wrong. Your maternal grandfather, as you've heard me say, was the only human being ever to die without once having been wrong about anything. At least that's the impression I always got. Your listening skills leave so much to be desired that I don't even know where to start, and the fact that you come by them honestly is wearing very thin as an excuse. And the fact that, when called on any of this, you automatically deflect all responsibility and then lash out with my temper...is galling. Not even Campbells could market this genetic soup.
To be fair and accurate, you also got some of our best traits, too. You're funny, you're a great conversationalist, you're passionate about the things you love, you're loyal, you speak and write well, you're smart, compassionate and a sometimes all around good guy. Except to me. (And your dad, but that's a whole other story). I don't see a lot of the good things lately. I mostly see Paragraph One Sasquatch. And it's getting really old.
I understand that you're sixteen and you're supposed to prickly. I understand that you've had some significant life changes this year. I understand that you're conflicted about the level of your dependence on me. I get it. I really do. But the fact that I get it doesn't mean that I'm willing to put up with the way you speak to me, doesn't mean I'm going to let you treat me the way you have been. I've had more than enough.
Last night you messed up the computer. You came home from school and sat on the computer for hours before I got home from work. I came home, put dinner on the table, caught up on everyone's day, patted the dogs, washed my face...and got on my laptop. Five minutes later the wireless went out. I could hear you in the next room muttering under your breath and then you got up and stomped upstairs saying the computer was overheated and that we should all stay off of it. I asked about the wireless and you said IT'S OKAY MOM. IT JUST NEEDS TO COOL OFF. DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT...OKAY???? in a really crappy tone of voice. And then your bedroom door slammed.
Hours later, when the computer was still out, I knocked on that same door to ask if you had any ideas of what we could do. I wanted to post on my blog. I needed to pay the mortgage. It was a simple question. And you went off on me. Screaming and yelling, dodging and deflecting, accusing me of anything and everything you could think of that would wound and sting. I can't describe the way you do this to anyone who hasn't had the bad luck to witness it. You turn everything around. You twist facts around until they are unrecognizable. Last night you told me that I'm incapable of communicating with anyone. Your favorite thing to say is that I always attack you. Nothing is ever your fault. And very often you contradict yourself so many times that if I weren't so infuriated I would be tempted to laugh...but I don't. There isn't so much about these episodes that strikes me as funny.
As always, you're amazed after the fact that I might still be upset. Shocked that I could be angry. Blithe in the way you chalk it up to my "ridiculous attitude" or my "insane need to always be right". Happy to go along with your day as long as you feel that I'll "get over it" and give you another chance. Because I always have. And I always do. And you're very used to that and use it to your advantage every chance you get.
But it may surprise you, my self-absorbed son, that other people in this house have had a rough year, too. And other people in this house are tired of being taken so much for granted. And that you don't abuse those you purport to love. And that good will doesn't grow on trees. And that you need my support and good will far more than you realize.
And it may surprise you to know that you're about to find out just how much you need that good will from me. Because - as of now - it's gone.
Did I communicate that clearly enough for you?