If you read my last few articles on my challenging 13-year-old, (links for the series listed below), you may remember that I was at the point of either calling the police or taking him for a tough work out at the gym with a former college football player for an hour. Though his therapist thought the police might be a quick fix if he wouldn't mind, I chose the latter.
After reading a three-page contract to my son that I had prepared and telling him that this day was for him and was to help him fully understand what respect was in a physical way, he signed my contract and initialed where needed. Then, it was off to a good physical butt kicking.
Although, he is 13, I had to give him major props for not giving an attitude while I read the contract, when I asked him if he understood what I read and when I asked him if he knew what he was agreeing to.
Besides all this, he didn't move or run out of the empty workout room we met in (the trainer, a youth pastor, me and my son) but when all was read and signed, he got up with his new trainer and was prepared for whatever he had to do.
I knew this was also his tough exterior not wanting to show much. But he could have made other choices. He didn't. He was ready to stick it out.
For the next 50 minutes, my son punched at a punching bag, kicked at the bag, ran back and forth in the basketball gym without stopping, dribbling his basketball.
The trainer then took him back out where he worked him on jumping, trying to reach a certain height, over and over and over again. Then, it was back to basketball and running laps again and again and again. The trainer ran with him and talked to him and listed to him as well.
At one point, the trainer told me later that he asked my son if he knew why his mother was having him do all this. He told the trainer that he knew and that he felt sad that I (his mom) had to do all this for him to listen. He told him that he didn't like that he had been so hard on me and that he knew he was wrong for how he was treating me.
Hearing that was more communication I had heard indirectly or directly from my son in I don't know how long. You have to understand. He doesn't share his feelings to anyone...PERIOD.
Anyway, the workout really never stopped. I had given him some Gatorade so that he could keep working out without having to run to a water fountain. So, with more laps dribbling a ball, more laps running, more work jumping, doing push-ups and so on, he fell into a couch in the gym's lobby wiped out.
Both his regular trainer and his tough trainer for the day said he was pushed hard and they felt he had given it all he possibly had before he would actually throw up.
So, what did this do for our relationship, if anything?
Since that day, my son has been a lot different. He doesn't fly off the handle and yell at me with any feeling he has. He takes a moment and thinks before he speaks. He also does what I ask him to do when I ask him to do it. And you know what the most wonderful thing about all of this is?
I have seen my son smile more than I have seen him smile in years. Don't get me wrong. I have seen him smile. But he just wouldn't smile when I was around or in the room or anywhere near him.
Now, I get a few smiles and we are starting to talk.
I left a note for him on a wall in his room that simply said, "I love you." He didn't take it down and throw it away. Before all of this, he would have.
This morning he started mouthing off so I just told him that he would lose his electronics privileges for the day and we would talk when he came home. He started to blame me for waking him up late and then suddenly stopped. That was the old 13-year-old talking.
I am hoping he stopped himself because he remembered something about respect and that the physical pain he went through during that 50-minute training was as similar as he could understand to the amount of pain I felt every time he disrespected me.
He stopped talking back. He gathered his things and left for school. He didn't slam the door. He left, I think knowing that walking away to cool off and coming back to talk about it after school would be a lot easier on both of us.
Life is always a work in progress. My relationship with him is proof of that. And to add to the proof is my 10-year-old who has now taken over where my 13-year-old has left off. He started pushing back and mouthing off about two weeks ago. (sigh.)
His personality is different than that of my older boy. So, back to the drawing board on how to handle a young man who mouths off, lifts his arms up high in the air like 'he's had it,' tells me things that aren't true, pouts, cries and jumps on my bed or the couch when he's upset.
Simply put, the workout wouldn't work for him. He would start crying in about 10 minutes.
I guess for now, I can be thankful that I'm not a mom of three children.
Series on: My 13-year-old Saga