They are almost grown, seventeen, and they feel that they are almost grown. They think they know everything, they think the road is clear despite what they can’t see. But they have thin skins, much more than they would want you to know.
One of my son’s friends had a terrific fight with his mother and walked out. It was a while before she realized that he had gone, his little sister told her he was gone; and had taken his homework. My son and his friends are really good kids and generally there are only a few places any one of them would go. So of course his mother called me. My son wasn’t here and I didn’t know where hers was.
I called my son, who was on his way home and he arrived a short while later. I could hear that someone else was with him and, of course, it was his friend. He had walked all the way from his house to ours. Quite a distance. I told him one of us was going to call his mother because I would expect the same if I didn’t know where my son was. I called her. Her family are immigrants, her son first generation American, and her culture is quite rigid in its expectations of its sons in particular. She didn’t understand why the argument was such a big deal. Since I didn’t know what they argued about, I couldn’t really say. But I convinced her to give him some space and let him stay here for the night.
The concept that a son might be “sensitive” or have hurt feelings was quite alien to her. But my son is pretty sensitive and I get the whole mood swing and hurt feelings thing. I can’t always avoid hurting them but I understand that he has them. My son’s friend explained to me that his parents don’t feel that he should have feelings or a point of view, they feel that everything about him is or should be circumscribed and defined by their experience. He tries to explain to them how he feels, but he thinks they don’t care how he feels.
I don’t know the truth of the matter but I know boys have feelings and I know they are more sensitive than you might think, or than you want them to know. They have mood swings, they have moods. They think they know everything but lots of things still confuse them. They want to be independent, but they want support. Being a boy’s mom is a hard job, but one I wouldn’t trade.