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Little Jimmy Swagga
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Now that I have officially got a teenager on my hands, my nightmare has begun. It didn’t take too long for him to go from an adolescent who looked to mom for everything, to a kid who thinks his you-know-whut don’t stank.

It is really mind-boggling how little turn-around time there is to prepare for it, too. I thought I had a good year or two to batten down the hatches, not a freakin’ week or two!

Little Man comes home from school one day and gets all puffed up like he thinks he’s in Gangsta  Land, gettin’ in my face about not having any peanut butter and marshmallow fluff. I let it slide for a minute because he wasn’t lookin’ for the eighth-grader’s drug of choice, but when it got to be a daily habit of coming in the house with his posse and trying to embarrass his momma in front of the boyz ... well ... let’s just say momma set the record straight.

His latest little parade of bravado was nipped very quickly in front of the posse and left him a quivering mass of jelly.

The tears at the corners of his eyes, the pleading of ignorance as he had no idea why I was suddenly turning on him like a wild dingo.

I grabbed him up by his shirt collar and pulled him right up to my nose.

Boyzos were slowly backing out of the house and into the yard for fear of getting brain matter splattered on their clothes.

“Look here, kiddo,” I said in a low, menacing tone so as not to be misunderstood, “you can carry on with that little ‘tude you got goin’ on at school, but you better drop it the minute you hit the gate in the yard. If it crosses my threshold one more day, you will find yourself going to a bible camp for the rest of your life and on restriction till you’re 25. You got it?”

“Whudd I do? Whudd I do?” he whined, trying to avoid confrontation.

“You wanna come in here and start barking at me in front of your friends and treat me like a doormat? After all the stuff I do for you guys? I don’t think so.”

I dropped his collar and turned around, slamming a cabinet door shut.

He disappeared out the door and off they went.

They came back about a half hour later but three of them had already decided it was better to go home, so the buddy he came back with sat outside and they did homework together.

After his friend went home, he came in and apologized.

I know that he really wasn’t sure why he was apologizing, only that he’d made me mad and he’d better get back down on the floor and kiss my feet.

“Lookit,” I said, “I understand it can be hard at school sometimes, but you never ever come home and treat me like garbage. I am the one person who will always be in your corner, but if you try to pull this Jimmy Swagga act on me, I will rebel. I know you’re 13 and I know you have to see how far you can push the envelope. You’ve pushed as far as you possibly can, that’s all you need to be aware of. You got me?”

Eyes on the floor. Head hung down.

“Yes, ma’am. I’m sorry.”

“That’s more like it. I don’t wanna have to start walking around here with a belt draped around my neck to remind you of how ugly it can get (Pops used to do it — that belt draped around the neck thing — and it scared the living daylights out of us) in the blink of an eye.”

He nodded his low-slung head and said, “I just don’t know how I was acting that got you so mad is all.”

“Really? You have no idea what you were doing? Like you’ve been doing for the last two weeks?”

He shook his head and I said, “Here ... I’ll show you. ...”

I bent forward ever so slightly and bowed my arms out, thumped my chest and started mimicking him.

The chest thump was merely for effect.

“Yo, ma! Whachewgotfometoeat? We need money for Taco Bell. We need money for Subway. I ain’t eatin’ here ... you ain’t got nuthin’ for us to eat?? You don’t know nuthin’! Don’t touch me! Get off!”

“I don’t do that!” he said.

“Yes, you do. Every single day. I’m sick of it. Straighten up or you will find yourself living in another level of reality.”

He mumbled, “OK.”

Within minutes, he was back to his “normal” self, vacuuming his room, taking his laundry out to the laundry room, and then finally sitting down to finish his homework.

He became more engaging as the evening wore on, sitting down to watch television with me for a little while and eating dinner with zero complaints.

I relented slightly and let him have some time off for gaming, but there is a sign over his desk that says, “You mess up, all this business goes bye-bye!” with arrows pointing down to his PC and gaming equipment.

I tacked it up while he was doing his laundry.

He came out when he saw the sign and said, “Are you serious?” in that thump-thump swagga style and I said, “There you go again!” as I leaned in and thumped my chest at him.

Too many YouTube videos.

He stomped around for a minute and I laughed.

“What’s so funny?” he wanted to know.

“Keep it up. I’ve got a secret weapon up my sleeve!” I said, huffing some breath on my nails and polishing them off on my shirt.

“What is it?” he asked, turning paler than his normal color of mushroom.

“Can’t tell ya. You’ll find out soon enough if you don’t take it down a couple of notches. Just be mindful, that’s all I can tell you.”

He went back to his room, probably wracking his brain to figure out what I could do in retaliation.

Hmmm ... let’s see ... he’s got an upcoming visit to the dentist.

Novacaine ... or no novacaine?

I wouldn’t do it, naturally, but it’s a dang good threat, ain’t it?