Ben has now reached 14 and his gift to me is he doesn’t like me. I encroach on his freedom, his independence, his cool factor. The group message is that this is the normal rite of passage for a teenager but it is hard not to take it personally. To accept that the boy who I have watched grow from a tiny little baby is now permanently angry at me and there is nothing I can do to change this other than bribery and gifts. It is payback or the way I acted to my parents as a 14-21 year old but that doesn’t make it easier to take.
The counterweight to this is that Sam still likes being with me. We just spent an awesome weekend together snow boarding, discussing sports, going to his basketball game where he was awesome, watching movies and bonding. He even told me he loves me in response to my many similar proclamations. Of course part of me thinks that this can’t last, that his teenage years are coming and I’ll get shunned for a second time. But I am relishing the time while I got it.
I know that I can’t take it personally – that being a good father is not about being liked, it’s about respect and being a good role model. But it is hard not to let my emotions run rampant when one of the two most important people in the world doesn’t want to be with me and there is nothing I have done other than exist.
Of course I am compounding this by reading the uplifting book The Road.