One of my closest friends sent me a text this week, “Tee, my
daughter ran away. She’s OK. We found her and brought her back home.”
I shook my head as I thought back to when my son mentioned
to me that he was thinking of running away. He was 12 at the time, upset that
his dad, who he lives with, was being hard on him and he thought that he could
find a better place to live. When he told me he was thinking of running away, I
laughed and told him to try his best and let me know if he can find a better
house with better food and an awesome dad who takes him on vacations. When I
said that he laughed and never mentioned it again.
Now my younger son is six months away from being 13 and all of
a sudden he’s different. He never really was the type to talk a lot, but I can
tell he’s not so excited to speak to me. I’ll text him and he won’t respond. He’s short when he does answer the
phone, always ready to hang up. I asked his big brother if he is OK and he says that
he’s been being rude lately.
When I finally got a hold of my son, he assured me that
nothing was wrong and he’s perfectly happy with his life. Of course he’d say
that. Why would he admit anything to his mother? But I thought we were closer
than that and it hurts my heart to know that he’s not interested in talking to
All I could think about was what a wrong fit I felt like for my family. I didn’t think anyone would ever truly “get” me.
I had to stop for a moment and think back to when I was
turning 13. How did I feel about my parents? Ugh. I hated them. I thought they
were so stupid and lame. I was so ready to get out of their house because I
thought they were weirdos who just needed to leave me alone so that I could
become my fabulous self, which was absolutely nothing like they were. They must
have found me at the mall and kidnapped me because, ugh, there was no way I was
actually born into that family.
I ran away when I was 12. One day my brother and sister and
I were all in trouble and we were lined up to receive our “punishment,” if you
know what I mean. I wasn’t interested in that. I quietly slipped on my white
keds and bolted out of the front door, running as fast as I could until I
reached my friend Kim’s house about five blocks away. I went inside and she gave me
some water and I told her I was tired and wanted to take a nap. She let me lay
in her bed, and before I knew it, Kim’s mom told me that my mom was at the door.
Rats! I was caught and forced to go back to that hellhole
where I got everything I ever wanted anytime I asked for it and I always had
new outfits and more cash than all of my friends and we always had lights and
food and were safe and warm. But none of
this mattered at the time. All I could think about was what a wrong fit I felt
like for my family. I didn’t think anyone would ever truly “get” me and I
figured I must be from another planet.
I don’t think I’m the only one trying to figure out why
children turn into little angst-ridden fireballs just as they are about to turn
13. In this New York Times article Why
Teenagers Act Crazy, Richard Friedman writes that adolescents have a brain
that is wired with an enhanced capacity for fear and anxiety but is relatively
underdeveloped when it comes to calm reasoning, which means that things are
bigger than life for every teenager and every obstacle is a ferocious beast.
My son and my friend’s daughter are going through growing
pains just like we once did, but it sure does hurt me to watch as my son drift away from being my Sugar Pop to a teen who would rather play video games than
talk to me.
I guess the real trouble with turning 13 is knowing there
is nothing I can do about it.