Ah Summer and the Surly Stage

14 Jul

So we’re in the middle of summer and I’m encountering people who appear to be walking around like it’s Happy Hour, half drunk on the fact that It’s Summer.  “It’s summer,” means to many that it’s time to relax: Drink more, hang out more, chill more. It’s a great concept and I wish that I was doing it and doing so near a beach for a month (a week, a day), but I’m working. I’m a chauffeur.

My 13-year-old, unfortunately, isn’t old enough to drive so here’s how my day looks: Get him to academic camp by 9 where he works on language arts and math till 11:15 then I pick him up and drop him off at 11:30, to a neighboring town, for sports camp where he stays until it’s over at 2:30. Then there’s summer league baseball. He usually has to show up for those games at 5. Last week he had four games in one week. This is my July. I’m trying hard not to be bitter, not to complain, to enjoy these years which I know are fleeting. I’m sure some of my friends are right when they say, “You’ll miss these days,” but given that he’s an adolescent, I’m highly doubtful that I’m going to miss the surly grunts and the complete silence I get from him. The one word answers to my questions are now just as often replaced by grunts. It’s not just a yes or a no, it’s a barely audible sound that means, “I don’t want to answer you.” Five minutes ago, really six months ago, my Ford was sweet and loving. He still wanted me to lay down with him and tell him one of my made up stories. He would watch a movie with us. I could even get him to go to lunch with me–even if he did want to leave as soon as he’d wolfed down his burger, which was usually in 15 minutes. Just when I was feeling sorry for myself and considered running him over when I dropped him off this morning (okay I didn’t actually want to do that but I did imagine, for a moment, that if we hadn’t had him my summer would be free) I came across this article about the push and pull of adolescence.


My take away: they will push you away, they’ll say mean things, but they’ll have moments when they will hug you or sit next to you or as just happen, hold your hand (wow)! The article said that as much as you may want to turn away to protect your feelings from the meanness coming from them, you gotta hang in there because you’re still their safe place to fall and every now and then you’ll get a glimpse of sweetness (or at least non-surliness).

So I’m going to keep driving, hoping that maybe a conversation consisting of more than oomph will happen. I’m going to keep sitting in the stands in 90 degree weather to watch him play baseball games, hoping he feels all the love and support I bring along with me. IMG_0627 In January, with sister, at the start of the surly stage. IMG_1662 A moment of grace in June–he’s actually asking me for his phone–but I was happy to have it

6 Responses to “Ah Summer and the Surly Stage”

  1. tystephens60 July 15, 2014 at 1:52 am #

    This was a sermon I needed today. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Judith Liebaert July 15, 2014 at 3:30 am #

    Beautiful and honest. From my youngest (of3) daughter’s age of 11 I drove her 15 miles to her school bus pick up. This was after my divorce from her father. We shared placement, so it was every other week for me. To say she wasn’t a morning person is an understatement. She is 25 now and I have come to find over the years that she may not have been talking, but she was listening. And, silence or not, I most definitely do miss those 100s of trips in the half past dawn hours, with a bitter sweet ache.

    • Benilde Little July 15, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

      Thanks Judith–not talking but listening…I’ll keep that in mind.

  3. Cynthia Sloan July 15, 2014 at 10:31 pm #

    After teaching middle school for 19 years I’ve seen it all. The are getting to know who they are. At times they enjoy my mothering, my hugs, and my corny jokes. At times they become absorbed in themselves or their peers. It just the age of being in between; I guess that’s why the call it middle school.

  4. Adrienne Holmes December 2, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

    I stumbled upon your blog today and enjoyed it immensely! I felt the hurt in the piece on Baldwin and I am experiencing the surliness. Sorry to say, I am glad I am not the only one. I have told my son I am prepared not to like him for a few years, even though my love is eternal. Thank you sharing. Can’t wait for the book. Be blessed.

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