The entire weekend is all about BOREDOM according to the 16-year-old boy we call Red.
"My computer sucks! I need a new video card."
Dad just gave him 2 video cards from his machine. Dad got a new mega video card and passed his two perfectly good video cards down to Red. Of course, non-job-having Red would prefer the new video card. You know...the one Dad got. That is Dad...the one who works hard, pays the bills and makes his entire life possible.
Dad's response...zero. He's very good at ignoring. Which sends him directly to me. (Thanks a lot Dad!) You know, Mom, who knows nothing about computers, but is supposed to somehow be able to control Dad. My response? "Children in Africa play with sticks and empty plastic bottles and they're happy. Being happy with what you have is a choice." What he has works...it's simply not good enough for him.
"When you don't have a job...you have to be satisfied with what you are given. This is no different than it is was for me when I was 16. When my parents couldn't give me what I wanted...I had to get a job. It was the same for your older brother when he was 16. The only thing we owe you is food, clothing, shelter and education. Everything else is gravy...you know, icing on the cake." What does that mean to him? Not much. He doesn't want to hear it although, he's heard it many times before.
"But I don't have a job! You guys are being so unfair!"
"Exactly...you don't have a job, so you don't have a choice, but to accept what we give you and you SHOULD do so graciously." I may as well be talking to a brick wall.
He is trying to create his own video editing business, which I commend him for. He has a nice video camera, editing software, which he taught himself how to use and he has done several jobs, mostly for friends and family members. The latest thing however is, "I need more equipment and if you wanted to help me with my business...you would buy it for me."
My response, "I will be glad to invest in your business when you have some jobs lined up so that I can see a return on my investment."
"What do you mean a return?"
"An investment...means someone gives you money for your business and you pay them back, plus a small profit when you begin to make money."
"Why would I give someone my money? They didn't do the job!"
"But if it weren't for THEIR money, you wouldn't be able to do the job."
I try to explain to him that he has to work with what he has until he can make more money or get more jobs lined up. Then he can buy better or more equipment. I'm not just handing out money for equipment that he will sit in the closet when no business drops into his lap. I'm glad that he is at least thinking about making his own money, but again somehow, it falls back on us to spend more money...just because we're his parents. This has to be repeated over and over and over again...before he will hopefully, get it.
So we get the, "I'm so bored! I can't play my game on my computer! You guys are so unfair!" all weekend long. Any redirection such as, "Play the Playstation. Watch a movie or call a friend," is met with considerable objection. Essentially, he is creating his own boredom.
I read this timely article, Of Presidents Teens & Dreams. Ronae Jull, the author, hits the nail on the head for so many of our teens today. It's like she's living in my house. One of the things she says that effects our teens dreams is this sense of entitlement.
"This entitlement attitude has at its base a great self-centered focus:
What can you do / give to ME? I deserve it just because I’m alive.”
The article gives parents advice on how to help our teens grow up and get a reality check. I paraphrase what she says here:
Read the entire article to see exactly what she says.
I assign a few chores, which he does extremely well because he wants to be paid. He thoroughly cleans his own disgusting bathroom. Toilet, floor, counter, sink, mirror, bath and shower. He even steam mops the tile for the first time. Why should I pay $5.00 for him to clean his own pissy bathroom? To shut him up for an hour! Desperate times....
So he creates this world of negativity for himself and attempts to suck us all into it. He rants, he screams, he hates everyone and everything all weekend long. All of this is our fault and our problem...not his.
Monday morning, he is suddenly so sorry for his behavior. "But you guys really do make me mad. We need to have a family meeting to help us figure out how to get along." I am working on setting up this meeting. However, no family meeting will change the fact that if you choose to not be satisfied with all of your blessings...you will NEVER be happy.
Tuesday afternoon he comes home from school, having had a conversation with the school Psychologist, with a whole new attitude. Suddenly, he decides to call all of his friends to check in and have pleasant conversations. He is kind to his brother. He goes out with me for a walk. He's a whole new kid, which confirms that the antics over the weekend were totally of his own volition and creation.
Of course the pleasantries come along with an underlying goal. He says in the car on our way to the park "I really need to work on my behavior if I want to go to Six Flags during Spring Break."