I'm having an interesting time, alone at home with my son while my wife is touring Europe. Without her moderating influence, we two Alpha males are guaranteed to butt heads. And butt heads we do.
Generally, we get along very well together. The things that tend to irk me are usually related to sloth, indifference, lack of punctuality. Yes, those are the very things that can define just about every teenager on the planet, so it should be no surprise to me when my son leaves his clothes scattered around his room, doesn't care what is going on around him, and rarely does anything when he is supposed to.
My son and I each have an extra 'stubborn' gene. When we think we are right about something, we cannot be swayed. Naturally, in those situations, it is I who am right and it is he who thinks he is right. Or is it the other way around? Sometimes, I'm not sure.
One thing I have always tried to stress is the idea of getting one's work done before spending time at play. If work is complete, one can play or amuse oneself without worry. My son has a hard time with that notion. Consequently, he often runs out of time to complete his homework and other projects. Now, with my wife away, he has no choice but to follow my rules. When his work is done, he can play video games or watch TV; if not, not a chance.
It wouldn't bother me so much if he occasionally missed completing a project on time. I am more worried, however, about the larger implications of a 'play now, work later' attitude. Much of society's ills, in my opinion, come from the compulsion for instant gratification. We 'need' a new TV, a new car, new furniture, a bigger house, a more exotic vacation, more more, more, even if we can't afford to pay for it. We borrow to scratch our instant gratification itch. Long before we have paid off the loans to pay off our goodies, our possessions are old and useless, our house has termites, and our vacations are a distant memory. And we have no money to remedy those situations without borrowing again.
That is what I am afraid of. Living within our means is almost an alien concept any more. We are going to live to regret our actions when our economies turn, when interest rates escalate, when jobs are lost as demand diminishes for ever more widgets. I want my son to learn to live within his means, to be responsible, to learn to postpone gratification until he can afford to buy whatever he wants or needs. I hope I am making headway with him.
Our experience as two males alone for several weeks is not all head-butting. It is also fun. We talk, we laugh, we bond, we do things together.
Tonight, we do laundry together. Aren't you envious?