The Fall and Rise of a Panda Mom -- A Walk with a Teenager

Josh and me in a goofy moment in Japan, April 2012
 

I am experiencing some aches and pains on my body right now, because a couple of nights ago I tripped on my son's feet during a walk and fell.  Hard.

Prior to that summer evening walk, my son was in a surly mood because his computer hit the 9 o'clock curfew which I had set, and it automatically logged him off in the middle of a game.  This was after at least two hours of time on the computer that day, which I feel is more than enough for anyone, let alone a teenager. This made my 14-year old angry.

"I don't want to go on the walk.  I'll just get ready for bed," said he.  My husband and I have learned that the best cure for a lousy attitude is a walk.  The oxygen to the brain gets the kids downright giddy within 20 minutes, so we pretty much forced him to join us and the dog.

Sure enough, our kids were laughing and acting all silly by the time we were on our way back, when my son decided to suddenly cut in front of me to do something goofy with my husband.  This made me trip.  I tried to put my right foot forward to break the fall, but unfortunately, Josh's left foot was in the way, so I crashed down straight on my knees on the concrete sidewalk.  I screamed in pain.

I couldn't figure out why my son would do such an impulsive thing.  Could he not see that I was there?  Does a teenager, in general, just not notice his mother walking alongside him?  These thoughts, combined with the pain shooting from my knees, made me do something I have never done before.  Something which I may regret for the rest of my life.

I slapped his left shoe.

I have never slapped my son anywhere before, not even when he was a screaming toddler, not that I don't believe in corporal punishment in certain cases.  I never had to spank him, because even the threat of a punishment would immediately straighten him out.  He has always been such a sensitive kid.  At least he used to be.

But, yes, indeed I slapped him.  Not his foot, mind you, but the tennis shoe on his left foot -- of that pair which David and I had repeatedly asked to reserve wearing only on the tennis courts for the lessons which we have been paying weekly for the past 7 years with the hopes that he would play with the level of passion that matches his inborn ability, which, of course, he takes for granted, just like his intelligence and his many other talents.  Is this what it's like to live with a teenager?

"I'm sorry," said my son as he rubbed my back while I writhed in pain.  "I'm so sorry." 11-year old Meg observed this whole incident unfold with grave concern.  "Oh, mommy..."  Now my right hand stung from the slapping, and my insides ached from acting like such a loser of parent.

After the pain subsided a bit and my husband Dr. Dave examined my knees, I decided to get up.  Josh extended me his hands -- the hands which I held when I hurried across the street with a two-year old with a bright red backpack decorated with Thomas the Train characters.  "Let's go, Joshy!"  The hands which held a crayon in his first attempts at the alphabet. "Great job, Josh!"

Yes, those hands -- now bigger than my own -- pulled me up and helped me dust off my pants.  "I'm sorry," he said again, and he let me put my arm around his neck so he could assist me as I limped the rest of the way home.  He is taller than me now, and I wondered how he grew so fast.

"Thanks for the lunch," he said, as we turned the corner towards home.  I made him a grilled sandwich for lunch earlier that day, and evidently he thought this was a good time to thank me for it.  How can I continue to harbor anger towards a teenager who appreciates my grilled sandwich?

"You're welcome," I said, and we began to laugh and act silly again the rest of the way home.

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