I have to be a parent?

I hate when my son’s behavior forces me into a situation where I actually have to be a parent. Yes. I just wrote that.

Writing this, and seeing it in print does make the statement look ludicrous, but it doesn’t change how I feel about what’s recently happened. At the end of the last school year we frequently found our son up at ridiculously late hours of the evening even on school nights. Midnight. 1AM. Once or twice later.

We protested. We were upset. We couldn’t believe he would stay up so late. And yet, through it all, speaking only for myself, I finally came to that realization that I was asking a 13 year old to police his own behavior, forcing him to do something that is unnatural for many adolescents, as studies show the body clock of many adolescents does shift to wanting to be awake later, and wanting to wake up later.

I was asking my son to parent himself.

One night I got out of bed for one reason or another and thought to go up to his room to see if he was awake; it was 1:30AM. A sliver of light was coming from under his closed door, and when I opened the door he was watching lacrosse videos on YouTube.

Yes. I know. I know. The current belief is to not allow technology in the room of a teenager, but I have my reasons for going against this, which I may expound upon at a later date. Thing is, his behavior was innocent enough. And I was about to go ballistic on him for being up so late, but thankfully for our relationship I was struck by the notion, at that exact moment, that I was the parent, not him, and that for how old he is, for where his brain development is right now, I am the one who needs to stay awake later to tell him when lights out is, and to make sure he complies. Not in a draconian fashion, but in a firm, established boundaries, compassionate kind of way.

But damn-it, this kid who has been so easy to parent is making me actually DO something that is going to make me lose sleep, and is going to be really inconvenient for me. I thought I was past all that.

Oh wait. He’s a teenager now. I guess there’s a lot of rethinking I need to be doing.

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