Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Heartbreak Kid

I could be at my son's 2nd scrimmage of the day, but instead I'm here at home.  Lessons need to be taught, and unfortunately this one's being taught by me being here.  There are so many times in a mother's life, or at least in my experience with motherhood, when the parent wonders, "Where the HELL did I go wrong?"  Seems I've had an awful lot of those moments, and last night began today's troubles...

My daughter had her final cheer last night--the end of the 2010-11 cheer season.  I was very excited to be going to cheer her on.  This is their father's week with the kids, so I hadn't seen or spent time with them like I usually do.  Although I'd seen my daughter at other events this week, I hadn't seen my son.  So I was quite happy to see him as well.

Arriving at the game, I saw him sitting on the top of the bleachers with his father.  I saw him look at me and even waved.  Nothing back.  Not a "hello", not a smile, nothing.  "Okay," I thought to myself, "maybe he simply didn't see me."  My husband, a friend, and I all found some seats not too far from my son.  I turned around and waved--he "pretended" not to see me.  "Brandon," I called to him.  "BRANDON!"  I hollered just looking for a "hello".  "What?" he said back after the 3rd attempt to get his attention.  "Are you going to say hi?"  I questioned.  He reluctantly made his way down the bleachers, murmured a quick "Hi" and hurried on back to his seat.

To say I felt hurt is an understatement.  Why do kids do this?  Why does MY kid do this to me?  I was embarrassed and really hurt that saying hello to me proved to be such a hardship for him.  I didn't want to carry on about this, so I let it go--enjoying the rest of the game and watching my daughter cheer (who, on this particular day, had no issues saying hello to me or hugging me or just being nice).

At the end of the game, as we were waiting to say good-bye to both kids, I turned towards my son.  He was doing everything in his power not to come over towards us. My daughter rushed over and gave her good-byes--even taking a picture and showing us her new routine she just made up.  Seeing my son was not moving on his own I said, "Are you going to come say good-bye?" Once again, with dragging feet, he slumbered over.  "What's the problem?" I asked.  "Why are you acting this way?"  "Whatever," was the thoughtful reply, and shook his head in that annoying way that he does.  I could feel my nerves walking toward the edge of the cliff and without clearly thinking said, "Real nice.  How would you like it if I treated you this way?  Maybe I won't go to your scrimmage tomorrow."  "Whatever," he repeated, "Bye."

I saw him walking away, took a deep breath, and tried to maintain my composure.  We were in a public place after all, and I was embarrassed enough.  In my mind, I was thinking, "I'm so not going to miss his scrimmage--why would I even say that?"  The Catholic guilt already pouring through my veins, ensuring my misguided motherhood would never allow me into the pearly gates.  When we got home, I found myself complaining to my husband about my child's piss-poor attitude.  Yet, I wasn't willing to really change anything about me to try to fix the problem.  I simply wasn't there.

My husband and I awoke early, hit the gym, and immediately headed to the 9 a.m. scrimmage.  We sat on the cold, hard bleachers--that were directly behind my son.  The wind was whipping, and we were both freezing our asses off.  My child never acknowledged our arrival--not a nod, not a small wave, nothing.  I continued snapping picture after picture--in the fashion that the "Mother of the Year" typically does.  After the first 1/2 of the game, I couldn't take the silent treatment anymore--especially when I had no idea why he was treating me in this way.  "Brandon," I called as he was putting something into his backpack.  Being less than 10 feet away from him, I knew he could hear me quite well.  His head never even lifted.  "Brandon!"  my voice raised, still no answer.  "I know he can hear me," I whispered to my husband.  "This is crap!"  Finally the head lifted, "What?"  No, "Hi, MOM!"  No, "Thanks for coming, Mom!"  No kind greeting or anything close to it.  No.  I'm the lucky parent that gets the "What!" greeting.  "I have your gloves," I retorted hoping to elicit some type of response.  "So," he snapped and headed back to his chair.

Feeling like I'd just been crowned with the "Worst Mother of the Year" trophy in front of millions, I began to fume.  Why was I even here?  Why have I planted my happy ass game after game for the last 13 years?  For this?  To be treated like yesterday's garbage?  And yes, as I was contemplating all of this, I had to take responsibility--after all, this IS my child.  My child.  The child that is shown love and given so many things, but who never has enough kindness in his own heart to give back.  And I have to take ownership of that.  I've never allowed him to see the difference between what he needs versus what he wants.  He always gets what he wants--even when he hurts people around him.  I mean, I was here--even after the way he had treated me at last night's game.

At the end of the game, he took his merry old time getting ready to leave.  Usually I'm the one that gets up and goes towards him.  The one that says the "Good-bye" and does the hugging--the whole feel-good ritual.  This time I stayed planted on the bleacher.  He would come to me or he wouldn't.  Either way, it was now going to be his decision, not mine.  That's when I heard him say to the four adults, including other parents from the team and his coach, "I'd better go say bye to my mom or I'll get in trouble like last night."  He sauntered over towards me and I couldn't help but wonder, "Where the HELL did I go wrong?"  My heart, on the other hand, was breaking saying, "Why would my son not want to say bye to me?  Why is he hurting me like this?"  "Bye," he said with a hardness in his voice--as though he was doing me a favor by gracing me in his presence.  "Bye," I said back, trying not to let my voice crack.  "Are you coming to my next game?" he asked.  This felt like a dare.  Like he was saying, "I dare you not to come."  It was a test.  And I was going to fail.  "No," the softness in my voice returned, "I won't be making it."  "What?! Why not?" the anger was evident.  He could now blame me for his poor treatment. "We'll see you tomorrow," I said refusing to be a part of his game.  I turned to walk away and the tears started down my face.  I couldn't continue to do this.  I couldn't continue to allow him to treat me so poorly and still be his cheerleader.  He needed to understand that when you hurt someone, especially your mom, there are consequences.  This time, it meant I would stay home.

I'm not the mom that misses games.  I'm the one that's always there--even in the cold, snow, rain, whatever the condition.  I've driven all over the state--to other states even--to watch my son play.  I've always been the consistency in his life.  Not being there is really hard.  I won't lie, I cried the entire way home.  I cried in my husband's arms when I got home.  I cried in the shower.  And I'm crying now.

I've decided to make some changes.  I've decided to no longer be the doormat for my child's bad behavior.  To no longer let him bestow his poor attitude onto me, with no consequence.  I've decided to stop with the things always given to him--as if he somehow deserves the things he is given.  And I'm scared at the same time.

So here I sit, at home, wondering how he did in this afternoon's scrimmage, knowing he won't call to tell me, and praying that he'll realize that I am his biggest fan.

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