When your teenage son starts communicating less, don’t despair

It was an ordinary weekend: Friday pizza and movie, Saturday athletics with the kids, a Saturday night dinner and Sunday was spent making meatballs and gravy the way my Nana used to make. This weekend was one of the best in my life. And at 45, I’ve seen a lot of weekends.

My 14 year old son came back to me Friday night. He wasn’t out of town, he didn’t run away – this sweet child hasn’t been too far from home for very long his whole life. So where was he? He was in Teenagerville. The last six months I’ve noticed the subtle changes that come from growing up boy and heading to this new strange town.

My boy, my friend, my sweet partner in crime, my cohort, my cuddler, my TALKER,  slowly but surely got a little more quiet with me, shared a little less and grunted a little more. Huge hugs and lying head to head on our L-shaped sectional turned to taps on the shoulder and scooting a bit further so our heads stopped touching. Kisses from toddlerhood full on his sweet chubby lips went to kisses on the cheek to kisses on the head and now, rarely at all. If I am allowed to kiss HIM, he discreetly (not so discreetly) puts his hand up to wipe said slobber away.

This gradual drift toward Teenagerville, was kind of sneaky. It snuck up on me and when I realized what was happening it was like I took a heavy sigh, slumped in my chair and said “Oh, that’s what’s been missing.” It went from a slow drift to “OH who are you?” I’ve been missing my boy, my younger counterpart, my easy going fella that I can always make laugh. He’s still here, home the same hours, still on the same sofa, eating and enjoying my food – but from a man/boy-made distance.

When the realization hit that my boy was pulling away, I did what any normal son-loving mom would do. I got pissed and worried (a little.) “Why is he doing this? What is wrong with him?” I asked, confoundedly and anxiously to Hubs. Hubs assured me boys do this and it feels weird at a certain age, to be touched by your mom.

He went on to say it was normal to create a little distance, and I needed to be patient, he’ll grow out of it and maybe into it again during the next few years. YEARS? “Scoff scoff scoff and bladibadiBLAH!” I said, or something like that. There must be something REAL that is happening. Something bothering him – does he have a girlfriend? Are his friends blowing him off? SOMETHING HAS TO BE HAPPENING.

I tried asking Boy questions to get to the bottom of the REAL issue. I was answered with “nothing, all good,” and “it’s fine MOM, everything is great.” Hmmmm. After stewing in my frustration I decided to embody all my gratitude practice, all my mediation space making and all my wisdom that keeps telling me “This too shall pass.” I decided to keep a watchful eye, but to not make this an issue or a big deal. This was a big step for me. And I’m glad I took it.

Turns out, nothing is happening. My boy, my friend, my sweet partner in crime, my cohort, my cuddler, my TALKER is growing up. He’s becoming a young man. And he delightfully arrived here again last weekend, preceding nothing. He came home to me! Like nothing had ever happened, like perhaps maybe the switch was flipped, the hormones kicked in and now the switch is off….temporarily. I’ll take what I can get. I was allowed to hug at leisure and was actually given hugs back. The real hugs, not the one arm, let go of me soon kind! We chatted, we giggled, we joked and enjoyed each other.

I cannot even tell you how ecstatic this made me. Seriously, I don’t recall the last time I felt such JOY. I really didn’t know when he may start to drift again and I wanted all I could have while he was allowing me to have it.  We watched movies and he took me to breakfast. We lied head to head on the sectional! I didn’t even realize how much I missed his exuberance and fun-loving energy until it was gone and then I GOT IT BACK. I am eating it up like like a bag of Double Stuffed Oreos. I’m savoring every hug, basking in every conversation and drowning in a blissful pool of hugs from my boy.

Do I fear he will drift into the quiet again,  grunt through his after school snack and head back to Teenagerville? No. I don’t fear it, I know it will happen.  Instead of being sad about this, I’m changing my tune. I’ve been given a front row seat to the growing independence of my boy and I will watch with rapt attention and joy, waiting with wide open arms for him to leave and come back again at his leisure.

I believe, if I do this with patience and grace, he will grow to leave the nest and become the strong independent man we are raising him to be. I believe we will stay connected and create a stronger relationship even when he is physically away.  And at the end of my day, he will be my boy, my friend, my sweet partner in crime, my cohort, my cuddler, my TALKER. My son.

Let’s talk teenagers. Comment below or follow me on Facebook at You Know Neen. If you’d like to read more of my musings on parenthood and the like, type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

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