Oh the delightful sound of stomping feet up the stairs and a door firmly slamming. I'm going to miss that in three years, seven weeks, four days and thirteen hours.
Funny how I've been putting off this blog 'til I had time and after I very politely asked for one hour on the computer and fifteen minutes of cleaning up supper dishes I was rewarded with new motivation and material.
I originally began thinking about this topic when I was talking with another mom about her son. (NOT gossiping!) She didn't give me any details, just explained that it was Tough Love Week at her house. Things had been locked down and locked up. Steps had been taken. Phone calls to friends parents had been made. "He's just being so selfish," my mom friend said.
I've long thought the role of unpleasantness in the average North American teenager is to get themselves kicked out of the nest. I'm a clingy mom, but there are days when the umbilical cord gets frayed and I know that's necessary. Moms like me don't want to let go. We have to be mad enough to shove.
At the same time, I learned a long time ago that often the most aggravating behavior in my kids is a reflection of what I'm showing them. Yes, I did tell them to shut up last Tuesday. Not a big surprise that I'm hearing it back at me now. A single 'no' can come back in an exponential plague. Can I go to my friends? No, clean your room.
I've learned to reverse that exchange. Can I go to my friends? (Answer with a question.) Have you cleaned your room? No.
Now my 'no' is totally justified. I'm sneaky like that.
Of course, that comes back on me. Can I go to my friends? Have you cleaned your room? Did you get the vacuum fixed?
They're copycats, these little eating machines we've created. That's why I don't think they invent difficult traits all by themselves. Think about it. As they get old enough to empty a dishwasher, keep track of their own iPod and make up their own mind as to whether they need a jacket, we tell them to do so. After all, we've put in ten or twelve years of toting diaper bags and making bag lunches. We're darned ready for a break.
And they start to notice that the clean socks don't magically appear in the drawer. We're not there in the same way we used to be. Sure, friends and parents of friends are helpful, but the only person they can truly count on--they begin to learn--is themselves. Taking care of number one becomes a huge priority.
They become selfish, but it's a necessary instinct we provoke to ensure their survival.
Why yes, I am the only person who could make turning out a selfish teenager into a credit to my parenting skills.
I'm also the mom who behaved like a martyr over a couple of unwashed pots. I'd go apologize, but I've already been punished.
"Mom, here's that itinerary for my field trip."
The overnight one.
Is it selfish of me to want to say no?