Monday, October 24, 2016

Don't be angry, Vincent

Teenage angst, frustration, and hormones seemed to spill out of my oldest son, this weekend, as he spouted, “I’ve been pissed off all weekend!” more than once.
My wife and I were confused. As far as we could tell he seemed to be having a pretty good weekend. On Friday he spent the majority of the evening with his girlfriend. Saturday, he spent the majority of the day with her. On Sunday, not so much but they both had things they needed to be doing.
By Sunday evening, his “anger” was spilling over to everything he was doing. He was lashing out at his brother, me, and his mom. I had had enough.
Typically, my response is that of yelling. I had previously snapped at him for how he talked to his mom and felt snapping wouldn’t be the ideal solution here. Truthfully, when is it? Still, I needed to reach him.
He was on the floor messing with our St. Bernard, Monte, when I asked him, “Hey Vincent, can you help me learn how to play a game?” For those that don’t know, I run a web site where we review and discuss games. You can find it here.
Without looking at me he said, in a very gruff way, “Sure.”
My knee-jerk reaction was to say something about his tone, but again, I wanted to avoid that.
The game we played is Warhammer 40k Conquest. An LCG published by Fantasy Flight Games. I suspected, because it was Space Marine related, Vincent would be willing to play. Vincent and I enjoyed playing the Space Marine game for Xbox 360 and I was banking on that tie to help me.  Thankfully, I was right.
So I got the game and began unwrapping it. I passed some stuff out to him and asked that he please punch out all the pieces while I did some reading. He obliged.
Vincent looks over the field of battle in a game of Warhammer 40k Conquest

So, full disclosure, we played this game completely wrong. And I mean completely. But that’s not the point. My point was to breach this “anger” gap with Vincent and try to give him something positive to focus his energy on, even if it was for an hour.
By the time our game ended (he won, legitimately) Vincent was a different person. He was now laughing and the anger that was there seemed to be leaving him.
I struggled as a teenager. I fought with depression, anxiety, and a general feeling of worthlessness on almost a daily basis. I know, on more than one occasion, I left my parents feeling frustrated because they couldn’t reach me. To be truthful, it’s amazing I made it out of my teenage years alive.
I don’t know what was pissing him off. I hope it was nothing too serious. Whatever it was, for one-hour last night, I was able to get through it.
I know Vincent thinks his parent don’t understand him. I know he feels frustrated and irritated with things even if there is no real reason for it. I also know that he will never read this post. And that’s ok.
On the off chance he does read this, I want to say this to him, “Son, I love you. Despite the frustrations I feel about you not doing your chores, or not listening to me when I tell you to do something, I love you. See, I was a teenager once, too. I know, surprise, surprise. I used to pull the same kinda crap you pull with me. I used to screw around and not do my chores, not tell the whole truth if it meant getting what I want, etc. I get it. And, although you think talking to me is a bad thing, I am always here for you. I will always listen to you. I may not agree with you, but I will listen. I will be your biggest ally, your staunchest defender, your harshest teacher, and the rock when you need it. And, above all else, I love you.”