Friday, October 14, 2005

A 12 year old Temper Tantrum

Last night my son went out to skateboard with his friends (his newest passion, the skateboard, not the friends).  There were 4 friends, 3 skateboards so that meant someone was going to have to be waiting and taking turns.

So after about an hour, Bo’s best friend, D knocks on my door, and believe it or not, the knock sounds frantic.  D said ‘You’ve got to come get Bo.  He’s not hurt or anything but you have to come get him, right now.’  I freak out a little, but try to stay calm.  D is obviously upset and needs my help with my son, so I’ve got to stay calm and assess the situation.

As I walk in the direction of where they say my son is, I see him running up the road towards home.  No blood, no broken bones, so what was the crisis?  Turns out that it was Bo’s turn to wait and watch.  Everyone was taking a turn on a skateboard and Bo had to watch, and he got mad.  He wanted to skateboard!  He didn’t want to take turns, he didn’t want to share. (None of the skateboards are his) So, he starts yelling and screaming at his friends, throwing things (rocks and sticks) at them and runs off, pissed.

At this point I’m alternating between relieved he’s not injured, (of course I’m wishing he might have been because then I could hide the evidence of my beating the daylights out of him among his other injuries), mortified that my son, MY 12 YEAR OLD son is throwing a classic temper tantrum, and pissed off because I know he’s been raised better than this.  He’s been taught to share.

I don’t lay a hand on him, but I march his ass back home.  Still trying to comprehend what is going on here.  On top of the temper tantrum, he didn’t look, or act the least bit embarrassed, or even sorry.  He still believes, in his own reality, that he was justified.  He wants to learn to skateboard and he shouldn’t have to share anything.  He didn’t even apologize to his friends. He just continued to pout and be pissed off, glaring at me and everyone else in the vicinity.

An hour later, Bo’s two friends came by the apartment, wanting to talk to him.  Fine, they can talk to him; I figure they can dish out as much guilt and justice as I can.  It might mean more coming from them.  All they had to say to him was “Yo, Dude, that was totally uncool’ and you could just watch the ego and the puffed up anger deflate.   Instead, they ended up apologizing to him for some things they said to him.  (He had yet to apologize to them.)  

I brought him back in the apartment and explained to him that I was thoroughly embarrassed by his behavior and he should be as well.  I also reminded him that he was raised better than this and he owed both boys an apology at the very least.  And then reminded him he’s not allowed to play with them for the rest of the night.  Even though his friends were willing to forgive and forget, I was not so lenient.  He stayed inside with me the rest of the evening. (after he went out and apologized to both D and M)

Of course, then he was sorry, not so much for what he’d done, but sorry it had caused him to now be excluded from having fun with his friends.  I’m not entirely sure he got it. Even now, I’m not sure he understands why his temper tantrum was wrong.

Ok, it’s alright to be upset, to not want to share, but he had to.  In this situation he had to share, he had to take turns.  If he wanted to get upset, fine.  I think it’s over reacting, but it’s his feelings.  Feelings are never wrong.  Throwing things and yelling and screaming are wrong.  Throwing things and yelling and screaming at his friends was even more wrong.

He’s at his father’s for the weekend.  By the time he comes home on Monday, the issue will be so far behind us there will be no point in revisiting it.  I was impressed with D and M both, because they apologized for their part in the whole incident and were willing to forgive and forget and continue to be Bo’s friends.  That’s true friendship.  

I don’t know if I handled it correctly, I don’t know how to help him deal with his feelings so it doesn’t happen again.  If he’s doing this kind of thing at 12 over skateboards, what kind of future do we have?  What kind of trouble is he going to cause and be in (if any) in the future as he gets bigger and older?  Am I ready for that?  Will I ever be ready? I hope I handled the situation right, I hope that in the midst of all of this he somehow got the message.  I hope that I have the patience and the nerves to deal with him as he gets bigger and older.  

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