Teenagers Working it Out

I try hard not to get my son aggravated but I can’t just let him do whatever he wants to do either.  It is really tough sometimes when I want him to do something and he isn’t willing to do it right then.  Usually he is pretty good and does what he needs to do but sometimes he just won’t do what is asked of him.

Yesterday evening my son was playing Minecraft with a few online friends while skyping.  He has met various friends online and I do listen to their conversations quite often to monitor what is occurring.  The one kid, M, is 16 and he has been playing with him for a few weeks.  They were playing with another kid, A, and they were all working together on something.  I don’t know exactly what they were doing but they were pretty engrossed in the activity.

I was trying to get him to stop playing so that he could do homework.  He kept telling me they needed to finish what they were doing.  I was having one of those moments of “how far should I push this?” he needs to follow rules.  Between trying to finish and my “nagging” at him he became a little aggravated and yelled.  I just walked away because that seems to be the best thing to do when he yells.

His friends realized that he was aggravated and A made a negative comment.  I didn’t hear the comment because it was on a chat screen within the game.  All I heard was my son crying.  I went in to calm him down and take the laptop.  Through tears “He said that I had a meltdown like a kid with Asperger’s”   I had no idea what to say except telling him they don’t understand also to tell him to get off the computer.

He said no he wanted to keep playing and he seemed to get more upset by me trying to take the laptop.  Oh geez, I really can’t win here.  I know video games calm him down but if a kid is harassing him it will make it worse.  I can’t believe I did this but I walked away.

I went over to my room to try to pull myself together.  I could barely hear him explaining to M that “a lot of things have happened” to him.  I heard him start to get upset again so I went and sat outside of his door.  He didn’t say much more so I went in to check on him.  He was still trying to stop crying.  I asked him to please give me the laptop.  As he fought back tears he said “no, we are working it out.”  Okay but you still need to stop soon to get ready for bed.  He said okay.

About 20 minutes later he stopped playing the game but then he covered himself up under his blanket and was clearly very sad and upset. He said he wasn’t going to school the next day.  He wouldn’t tell me exactly what they said but I told them they probably don’t understand Asperger’s.  This just made him more upset.  Then the lightbulb went off.

I said  “Now you know how I feel when people make blonde jokes”  He smiled and said “That’s different.”  I said “Really?  Am I dumb?”  He says “no but most are” and giggled.

I should stop and explain that this has been a running joke in our house.  I am blonde and my son is a dishwater blonde.  Based on many comments he has made over the years he views me as one of the smartest people he knows, not coolest, but smartest.  But some kids of a family friend started telling me blonde jokes and he thought it was fun to join in.  Whenever he hears a new blonde joke he loves to come home and tell me.  Every time I say obviously blondes aren’t dumb!  And then we laugh since we are both blonde.

Thank goodness I thought of this because it started to turn him around.  I asked him to take his bath and he asked for a few more minutes.  He then started reading skype on his phone.  I thought he was dwelling on the conversation and kept trying to get him out of his room.

He finally went to take his bath and I read his phone.  Now keep in mind these are teenagers.  On the phone I found a conversation between him and his friend, M.  M was telling him that sometimes people say things that they don’t mean.  They discussed how this comment was the worse thing that could be said to my son.  Something about how M has said bad things to my son but my son said it was okay when he did it.  Not sure I completely understood all of the conversation.  The point is the other kid was helping him.

His friend also told him that A was a nice kid but has been under stress lately.  My son said he wasn’t sure if he could play with A again but he wanted an apology.  They really had worked it out.  It wasn’t perfect but I think they did really well.

I know I should have handled things differently yesterday but I can’t go back and change it.  In the end I think he learned some good coping and communication skills.  He ended up going to school today and I didn’t get any calls so he must have been good today.  He even apologized to me today for not finishing his homework.  I think he really is trying.  That is all any of us can do.  Learn from our mistakes and try our best.

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