I’m quite illiterate, but I read a lot. ~J.D. Salinger
Evey time I catch myself huffing and puffing over Kyle’s behavior, or worse his attitude, everyone tells me he’s a typical teenager. I guess so, but does that mean I have to tolerate it? Perhaps I expect too much from him, maybe more than I should. I just want Kyle to be a respectful, hardworking (non-lazy) young man who’s moral compass points North. I’m not asking a lot. (I’m quietly laughing to myself.)
Monday was a bit of a rough day with the focus being Gram’s funeral. It’s true, Kyle didn’t fight me on his attire. He wore dress slacks, nice brown shoes and his navy woven top with clusters of anchors. The very same outfit he sported on his cruise. He looked nice and appropriate, and he didn’t argue when it was time to get ready. He was off to a good start.
However, during the visitation, Kyle sat in a corner and wouldn’t get up to acknowledged the visitors and accept condolences. Okay, maybe that was asking way too much from a thirteen year old, soon to be fourteen. Personally, I found it rude, especially when others made it a point to talk to Kyle and include him in the conversation. Kyle’s response? He did smile occasionally but barely look up from his seat. I addressed that immediately. “Get your butt up when someone is talking to you and shake his or her hand.” I guess that’s also a maturity thing, as well as learned behavior. Everything considered, Kyle was pretty good.
On a side note, there was no casket, which I didn’t understand. I asked Kyle to walk around and find Gram because “The guest of honor has to be here somewhere.” as I so plainly stated. Kyle snickered at first, and then gave me a horrifying look. Feeling a bit awkward with my request, Kyle tried to ignore me and continued starring at the floor while sitting in his seat, playing his video game periodically. Letting Kyle off the hook for my unusual request, I went seeking the answer myself. What I didn’t know, was Gram chose to be cremated and then buried by my Pap. A bit of information that would have gone a long way with me before walking into the funeral home. That took me completely off guard, and the fact that we weren’t going to the cemetery, which is very unlike Piper funerals, really threw me for a loop.
Then, while at the brunch after the funeral services, Kyle sat on his iPhone and played video games. At one point he left the American Legion, which is where we met in Latrobe, to sit on the Legion’s front steps to either text, play video games or whatever he was doing on his iPhone. I was so embarrassed. Seriously? Good friend’s of the family, and relatives wanted to talk to Kyle and try and get to know this mystery man they never get to see. Kyle was quiet and almost distant. What was his problem? Again, I knew it was a rough day of funeral services, but still.
On Saturday, two days before the funeral, I stopped down to mom and dad’s house. I pulled in the driveway to find my dad, who is in his sixties, outside in the dead of the heat, splitting and stacking wood, by himself. Upon entering the house, I found my sister and nephew playing a board game sitting in the air-conditioning. I think it was great Kyle was off his video games and spending time with my sister, but come on, help an old man out! Naturally, my sister yelled at me and very tactfully stated they were playing a game and I was to “Shut Up!” as my sister so respectfully demands. Now that doesn’t help Kyle’s attitude or his unwillingness to do actual work and get off his phone. I was floored. That’s no way to teach a young man to respect his family, very poor example, but moving on.
This past Tuesday, Kyle actually agreed to help me and dad build the chicken run. Really? He did! He was almost enthused about it. That is until we started working.
We needed an area for the chickens to run around outside, while being safely enclosed, so critters don’t have an opportunity to eat chicken for dinner. Sure, it wasn’t easy digging holes to set the posts, hammering boards together for the door, and tacking the chicken wire fence in place, etc. It was a beautiful day, but very sunny and HOT. We worked from 9:30 am till about 7:00 pm.
I’ll give Kyle kudos, he was trying, but I could also tell he’s out of shape and was having a tough time. Then, the attitude made its appearance. What’s better is when dad or myself calls Kyle out on it. Kyle will actually challenge us with a stare down and blatantly deny his attitude and insists, “What? What did I do? I didn’t do anything!” (And repeat that over and over again even after we told him what he did) When we all know, including Kyle about his attitude. He wasn’t terrible on Tuesday, but that snotty behavior is working my nerves big time. He treats me like I’m his parent, which is funny because I’ve always played that role with him. Maybe I should take it as a compliment.
About midway during the day, when we were about halfway done with the project, we decided to stop and refuel before continuing. While eating lunch, I heard the shower running. What?
Me: “Kyle, why do I hear the shower?”
Kyle: “Because I’m going to take a shower and go home.”
Me: “What? No you’re not. You purposely work as slowly as you could this morning, to stretch out the work, and you think you’re going to abandon us? Without saying a word? Then, you think I’m going to stop what I’m doing to take you to your mom’s house? Seriously?”
Me: “No, you said you’d help. You need to finish what you started.”
Kyle: Huffs as he walks away and turns off the shower.
He did help us, and as soon as we gave him an easy project, tacking the wire fence to the door, Kyle’s mood changed. I could tell he was proud of the work he put into the chicken run and felt a sense of accomplishment. Granted, Kyle didn’t stick around to help clean up, but I did ask him to pick up two quarts jars and a pint jar (used for drinking water) laying in the grass. What did Kyle grab? One quart jar and one pint jar. Did I let him get away with that? Nope! This kid needs to be held accountable for his behavior and learn to follow direction, even for something as simple as collecting the jars. Again, I addressed this with Kyle and he headed back up to the yard to retrieve the other jar, while rolling his eyes slightly and pouting along the way.
Please note, it’s not like we ask Kyle to do much. In fact, he does very little around the house. We’re always offering to take him fishing, and we build fires and make mountain pies and s’mores. Supposedly, we’re going fishing this weekend, I hope Kyle doesn’t blow us off again. It really upsets my dad, and after loosing his mother last week, dad needs a good day of fishing without an attitude.
On another side note, the quote above cracked me up, thinking about the Catcher In the Rye! I loved that book!
Below is a screen shot from Gram’s obituary.