Once again, I’m finding myself overdue for a blog post. I know I promised one on my melting pot family, but I’m having trouble getting started. I began one on dating as a single parent, but I came to a grinding halt halfway into it. It’s not that I don’t want to write about these things, and I plan to get to them eventually, but my mind is so consumed by Master Yi-Yi, my 17 year old son, that I’m having trouble focusing on anything else.
I’m sure many of you who have teenagers can relate. I feel like I…have…no …idea…what…I …am …doing. When the kids were little I used to joke about dreading the teenage years. I honestly never really saw myself as a mother of teenagers. Obviously, they were going to reach that point eventually. But when I thought of being a mother, I imagined little kids. Yet, here I am surrounded by teenagers and a preteen, and it’s not quite like anything I could have imagined.
Two Teens and a Tween
I think it all started when Master Yi-Yi got his driver’s license. I have anxiety issues to begin with, so having him out on the road increased that tenfold. He is a fairly good driver, but it still makes me nervous. He was lucky enough to be given a car by his grandmother, so he had something to drive. I guess I didn’t think about the fact that he is older than most of his friends because I held him back due to his summer birthday, and they all seem to think he should be able to drive them anywhere at any time. Luckily, the law limits him to one non family member passenger, but that will change in March. And it still hasn’t stopped people from asking him for rides because their bus comes too early, or they got kicked off the bus, or their parents can’t drive them. His car has 200,000 miles on it, and we pay for the gas. Nobody seems to understand that the main purpose of the car is to get him to school and back. I’ve learned that saying “no” is utterly exhausting because it’s constant now.
Up to this point, I haven’t made Master Yi-Yi get a job during the school year, and I wonder if that is a mistake. I wanted him to be able to focus on his school work but he has taken the time to focus more on his friends. And it’s hard to know where to draw the line. He gets his homework done, and he does OK, but he certainly doesn’t go above or beyond the basic expectations, except occasionally staying after for extra help. Right now we’re trying to brainstorm what job or activity might be a good fit for him, yet leave his schedule open enough for school. He still spends hours skateboarding each week, and at times his photography class keeps him busy taking pictures, but I think he needs more.
Some of Master Yi-Yi's photos
And speaking of his friends, I’m happy to have them over, but I can’t keep up with the food and drinks. Everyone seems to show up at my house absolutely starving. I’m beginning to feel like I’m going to go broke trying to keep up. Is it normal to have kids come in and raid every nook and cranny where there might be food?! And nobody seems to know what a trash can is used for. I even have one outside. It typically boils down to me making Master Yi-Yi pick up after them, which is something that he really isn’t very good at himself!
And then there is his obsession with anything having to do with vaping and smoking. I’m almost embarrassed to write that. It’s not like he didn’t spend his childhood learning how bad all of that is for you. His friends share his same obsession. I’ve taken things away, made ultimatums and forbidden any type of smoking. I’ve even gone so far as to give him occasional drug tests. What scares me is that he will be 18 before I know it. And then he will be graduating. And he will be considered an adult capable of making his own decisions. It worries me to think about what the decisions he will make.
Another Master Yi-Yi original
Other than restricting him to the house forever, I don’t know what to do. He seems to be gravitating to friends whose parents have little control over them. They’re polite and friendly kids, but in general, they’re hardly the best influence on him, especially because he tends to be a follower. And I think it’s partly because his more responsible friends are busy with jobs, studying and extracurricular activities. So, do I forbid him from seeing half of his friends? I constantly struggle with just how much independence I should be giving him.
So, I’m always asking myself, where did I go wrong? Am I being too lenient? Am I holding on too tight? Is he ever going to be a mature, responsible adult? The perfection I see on social media doesn’t help. I’m sure there has to be someone else out there feeling the same way. Right? Maybe one day I’ll have the answers. In the meantime, I’ll just remind myself that this too shall pass, and I may actually miss parts of it.