Friday, May 27, 2011

Initiation rights

I'm having a weirdness with Blogger, so apologies if I post even less frequently than I have been. It's something to do with the login, they're playing hard to get. But I can get in from the art skool, so I'm taking a break to slip this in.

Two days ago Bumblebee went on a camp to Wee Jasper with his Outdoor Ed class. They'd split into groups of three, worked out a menu (sausages, steak and BBQ chicken for their dinner!) and equipment, were given a list of clothes & things to pack, and I spent most of Tuesday night wrangling him to follow the lists and argued for something besides meat to go into the food bag. I pressed a tin of baked beans into his hands, saying that if the stove didn't work, if an animal broke in & ate their supplies, if they lost their utensils, this one perfect can would save him, since it could be opened by hand & eaten cold with his fingers if necessary.

He took the can, and it came back intact, as did most of the sausages. None of the clothes were touched, as he slept in his clothes overnight (including boots!) and just got up & kept going in the same clothes. He drank the 600ml carton of milk with his dinner, which was lucky because everyone else's milk froze overnight and one person's was completely off, they discovered as they swigged and spat a mouthful. B awoke the next morning with his braces frozen to his lips, and had to get a sympathetic friend to swish some unfreezing water onto his mouth to free them. That's how cold it had been.

But this is by the by. They had a marvellous time caving, abseiling and other fun things, and came home sore and desperate for a hot bath. The main reason I brought this all up is the shock I got when I dropped him off at the school early on Wed morning for the camp.

As we parked, I could see two groups: girls, standing together with their mothers, and boys, standing around without parents. I helped B carry his bags and tent up to the Boyz group, cheerily said hello into the air and felt my greeting hit a sullen wall of WTF. B, to my utter surprise, had curled downwards from the head into a similarly surly slouch and he muttered 'see you later, Mum', almost under his breath. I pretended I didn't hear him, and gazed around at the group, only to find myself being glared at by males of various heights who didn't seem to want to utter another word until the female had left them to their Business.

It was quite powerful; I didn't want to submit to this Wall of Testoterone, but I could see Bumblebee was getting more curled with every second. OK, have fun, I chirped, stopping myself from leaning in to give him a hug, and walked with a very forced air of jauntiness past the smug mothers of girls (who may have been holding a sweep to see how long I'd last) and back to the car. I decided to sit in the car until the bus arrived & they were safely loaded, and then it dawned on me that most of the cars around me also had what I presume were parents of sons, sitting and watching wistfully, like exiles, like people sent to Coventry.

I walked like a ghost for a few hours until my soul warmed up. Of course, when I picked him up yesterday afternoon, he was really happy to see me, and we nattered on for ages, but it really brought home to me that I am now a guilty pleasure for him; he is not allowed to show affection for me in public anymore, according to the conventions of his peers. One part of me wants to shout POPPYCOCK to the world, but the other part acknowledges that this is part of him becoming a separate individual in the world.

The one thing that really pleased me is that instead of sitting around the campfire with his mates all night, he was so engrossed with the book he's reading that he lay in his tent with a torch and kept reading. The book? Up to now, he's been obsessed with Alex Rider teen fiction books. When I went dumpster diving at the Lifeline Book Fair depot recently, I found a Matthew Reilly book (Contest) and gave it to him. He's completely obsessed with it. I console myself that it *is* reading, and that I'm constructing a slow and careful pathway for him, up through various genres, the same way I've been guiding him, Beatrice-like, through music and movies. The true test of his broadening knowledge is that he can now watch things like The Simpsons and South Park and actually get lots of the cultural references.

So, sigh. Many more milestones to go, and most of them in the face of these stony young men who don't want to look adults in the eye. At least we have fun at home, where, to quote B's latest friend, things are really Ninja.


Elephant's Child said...

How lovely that your boy is happy to talk to you at home and even presumably away from home so long as he is out of sight of the testosterone laden yoof from school. This was a lovely post thankyou. And I love you gently leading him to the joy of books. And yes, blogger has been a bit hit and miss.

librarygirl said...

I hear you. Son's friend who I've known since he was 8 is now incredibly awkward and shy at 13 and barely speaks in the car when I take them to footy training.

Re Blogger - I had that stupidity with the login yesterday. Daughter fixed it by "clearing ccokies" (whatever that means) from the offending computer. All OK now.

Mindy said...

0_o I'll look forward to that one. I'm still allowed to turn up to school with various items but I have to hand them to him now and then leave, and I have to have a good reason to be there. He's 8.

Alexia said...

Enjoyed this post greatly!
The best thing ever is that when they're about 18 they turn into lovely, loving sons again, and will happily hug you in public :)
Hang in there, mothers of adolescent boys!!

Anonymous said...

This post brought back so many memories. At my 40th birthday party my 14 year old son spent the night in the back room with his mate and some videos. No socialising with the old folk at all. When I turned 50 a friend made a book for me. Every one had to write something - the first words being - D* is. Let me share with you what my son wrote: D* is my mother. But the word Mother doesn't even come close to describing what she is to me. Best friend comes close. I love my mum more that anyone else in the world and that's never changed and never will change.

The teenage years are a challenge for all involved, but worth it when they get past all that hormonal imbalance. Hang in there. dotson

Mummy/Crit said...

Oh, all this to look forward to... Great (if weep inducing) post Ms Duck, thank you!

Sara Bowen said...

As others have said, this too shall pass! Even as the much-loved stepmother I had to endure several years of public chilliness and private warmth until it dawned on my son that I was safe to have around in public. Since then(sadly I can't remember when it stopped!) it's all been great and he actually LIKES to be seen out with me. Astonishing. I read in something like New Scientist that it's all to do with their brains (as well as their feet) growing too fast... apprently the rest of him will catch up and normality will resume. Hang in there, Sara x

JahTeh said...

Duckie, your mistake was not turning up dressed in your best Indianna Jones gear and offering him your whip to take with him.

Jane said...

All too familiar to me, even down to the Matthew Reilly obsession. Mine is thirteen next week, and came back from his sleepover at the mates place last weekend with a MOHAWK. Actually it didn't look that bad but I figured I'd better act at least a bit shocked or he'd be disappointed. I'm secretly thankful its only far.