By Dom Cioffi
Testosterone is an interesting thing.
The hormone, found in all humans, plays an important role in the body. In men, it’s thought to regulate sex drive (libido), bone mass, fat distribution, muscle mass and strength, and the production of red blood cells and sperm. It also has a profound effect on an individual’s mood.
My son is currently going through puberty (he would die if he knew I was announcing that publicly). I know this because of his rapid height gain, the presence of acne, and his consistently miserable and unpredictable attitude, no doubt brought on by his body’s rapid production of testosterone.
People keep telling me that this is just a phase and that he’ll grow out of it, but he’s genuinely making me crazy. I have never been around another human who tested my patience on so many levels.
First of all, he’s impossible to get out of bed in the morning. No matter how sweetly my wife and I cajole him from his comfy slumber, he still insists on staying put until one of us begins to come unglued. He then begrudgingly wakes up and accuses us of being irrational.
When he complains that he’s “soooooo tired,” I suggest going to bed a little earlier. This statement is usually met with an insistence that he does go to bed early (even though I clearly hear him jumping around long after the light has been turned off).
This leads me to my next issue: My son doesn’t seem to be living in the same reality as I do. I can ask him 35 times to take out the garbage, and when I finally break and do it myself, which leads to a lot of yelling and an uncomfortable fight, he claims I never asked him.
I can even show him a video where I’m clearly telling him to take out the garbage and he’ll claim to have heard something completely different.
And God forbid I ask him to clean his room or empty the dishwasher – two jobs that together should take no more than 20 minutes to complete. Suddenly I’m a slave driver that has no respect for his free time, something that he feels he needs more and more of in the ever-oppressive world that he’s being forced to live in.
And don’t even get me started with video games. I rue the day I bought that kid an Xbox and allowed him to have a cellphone. I might as well have put heroin in his cereal every morning. I’m ashamed to say that my son will lie, cheat, and steal to get jacked into a video game, whether its Fortnight or some ridiculous iPhone app that features unicorns.
I finally pulled the plug on everything – and I mean everything. He said something wildly inappropriate to his mother and that was it. I had been threatening for weeks given how his attitude was diminishing, and when he finally said the wrong thing, I yanked it all.
And I have to tell you, it has been beautiful. No longer does my son hide out in the bathroom with his phone for an hour claiming to have an upset stomach. No longer do we fight about how much time he’s spent on the Xbox. No longer do I look with disgust at the ridiculously stupid TV shows he’s watching.
He bitched for a week or so and then something magical happened: he started to play basketball in the driveway, he watched a PGA golf tournament with me, we played a board game, he practiced his drums without being told.
Granted he still fights with us at every occasion, and I still don’t know anything, but at least he’s not wasting his life staring at colorful pixels.
I imagine this raging testosterone will continue for a couple more years and then flatten out. At that point I hope he comes to the conclusion that his mom and I have provided him with a fairly spectacular life and start to appreciate us. I also hope he realizes that he might not be as clever and worldly as he thinks he is (if I’m honest, that’s the same trajectory I followed).
This week’s feature, “Serenity,” a warped psychological mystery, also thinks it’s distinctly clever, but in the end, like my son, the film is just hopelessly confused.
Starring an A-list cast including Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and Diane Lane, “Serenity” is almost laughable in its premise, which is too ridiculous to waste time writing about. Suffice it to say, the film takes enormous leaps, which ultimately leaves the viewer confused and wondering why they bothered coming.
Check this one out if you literally have nothing better to do, Otherwise take your theater dollars elsewhere.
A hopeless “D+” for “Serenity.”
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.