This weekend I made a big move and formally closed “Boy’s Town of Berwick.” I don’t mean any home remotely connected to Father Flannigan’s original Boy’s Town, nor do I mean that I shut off the album running “He Ain’t Heavy” by the Hollies (this song was the motto originally founded by Father Flannigan). What I mean is that after a weekend of overcrowding in my house, I weeded out the kids a few at a time.
For a long while, I’ve been the “Cool Mom” who hosts the sleepovers, has soda and snacks available, who orders pizza on Thursday nights. I’m the Mom that takes people to the campground for days on waterslides and cookouts with the family. I’m the Mom that takes the boys to the beach, provides a little spending cash for the candy stores. I’m the Mom who does all the driving. I’m the Mom that finally can’t do it alone anymore…
My kids, as I have mentioned, are 17 & 19. They are good kids and make fairly decent decisions, give or take a few here and there. I’ve given them the freedom to choose for a bit, and most often times, they choose well. My oldest however chooses this one person, the epitome of “wrong” in my book…and this kid NEVER wants to leave. He is 23, so not really a kid, with a fiancee, an apartment of his own, no license and no car and my favorite, no job…he lies constantly, and every conversation is simply ridicule. This 23 year old is like a virus…he floats through the air and is unavoidable, and my oldest son with a heart of gold, feels it’s his job to make his friend’s landing spot warm and welcoming. I don’t judge my son on his kindness or inability to see through this 23 year old’s superficiality…I worry about my son because of that inability.
What worries me most, however, is the ability this 23 year old has to manipulate my oldest son. Whenever my son makes a decision, for example to attend a tech school, the 23 year old hornes in, saying “Maybe I can go there too, if you’re going anyway.” My skin crawls at the prospect of this kid having full time reign over my son…and whenever my son goes out job hunting, this 23 year old wants to tag along. What is that about? His answer “Well Me and Mike can work together.” NOOOOO….the point is to get him away from you! And when my son applies for work in the next town over, the 23 year old says “She (meaning me/mom) is just trying to get you away from me and from Berwick.” You’re damn right…
The end result was me laying the smack down, such an uncomfortable predicament for me. I NEVER bring about confrontation. Instead, I roll with the punches and address an issue after the fact with my sons so as not to hurt or embarass their friends. My sons understand how I operate, and respect that I don’t call people out or make someone feel badly…but they know that if I have something to say, it’s coming after the fact. Well, this was as straightforward as I get, announcing that Boys Town is closing and many thanks for your patronage! My youngest immediately got it, that I was clearing out the clutter, reclaiming my space, and more importantly, reclaiming my house and my Oldest son. The 23 year old was the first to go. My Oldest responded by asking why I had singled out that person…I said, I didn’t single him out, he just happened to be in the first room I emptied out. One down, two to go…but the one, the 23 year old one, who has his own home, a fiancee, moped out the door, head hanging. Message received I think
The irony is that there is immediate calm. My oldest son returns to his room, happy he later tells me, that he doesn’t have to share his space or his soda for that matter. He won’t be tripping over extra bodies or having to make way in His room. He also tells me…”I’m just tired of feeling like a guest in my own house.” (This is an epiphany for him but a truth I have lived for a while, and I admit, maybe even gloat, that I am so happy to see my son make this realization.)
Boys Town is closed, at least temporarily.(Insert a dancing Mama, hips swaying, fists pumping, acting like a goon!!) My boys are free to have friends come and go, but no one is camping out. I will cook dinner and share with whomever is at my table, but the live-ins are not at my table right now. I’m not a pushover, and I love most of the boys dearly, but the one had to be cleared out…his voice, his influence, his presence, and most importantly his ability to make my son feel like a guest on our house. My boys WILL move forward without the Berwick influence…they are learning how strong they will need to be. And if I have to take the heat and no longer be “cool” to save them, I am completely fine with that.
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