Dear Teen-Aged Kids,
I have always told you that some things in our lives as a family will change, and some things will stay the same. The one thing that will always be same, (all together now…) is that we love you, and feel blessed to be your parents every day of your, and our, lives.
Then what’s changing, you ask?
You are changing, and growing up. There have been moments when we thought this might never happen, and times it felt like it has happened all too fast. But happen it has. So, some basic rules have changed in our home now, let’s review together so we are all clear.
You are responsible for your own crap. I don’t know where your cleats are, and if you leave your laundry basket next to the washer, the only thing that will happen to it (besides the continued molding of your sweaty clothes) is that I will steal your sweatpants, because they are way comfier than mine.
Want money? Get a job. That’s how people get money in the big world, where there is no such thing as ‘allowance.’ So ask me for extra chores, mow some lawns or paint fences, but don’t think I’m going to give you money every time you shovel snow from your own driveway, or vacuum the house through which you walk in muddy shoes. You live here, we feed you, educate and house you, so pony up on the chores, just because you can. Hold out your (even metaphorical) hand after begrudgingly raking a leaf or two, and expect us to slap a rental invoice into it. Do whatever chores are asked of you, anticipate a few, and your life will be happy and bright.
Get up in the morning on your own. You know already that I will be super happy to see you, and love to make breakfast for you if there’s time, mostly just to get a few moments to chat with you before the day begins. This does not mean I want to be the one to wake you up, because I don’t. So set your own alarm, and don’t let it go off for 40 minutes straight, because that makes my happy morning squirrel mood turn into angry grizzly mean mommy mood. And please pick an alarm tone that is tolerable to the human ear, as in NOT the ‘meow meow meow’ Purina Cat Chow theme song.
I am sorry you are sick, and will always do my best to take care of you. Yet, I no longer need you to tell me before you are going to vomit. This is especially true when you are in your bedroom at the other end of the hall next to your own bathroom, and you make the high risk, dicey trip to my bedroom to tell me something that cannot stop, nor delay the inevitable. In fact, it only increases the chances of you vomiting in my bedroom, effectively trapping me in there to clean my way out.
Commit this to your brain, tattoo it on the back of your hand, if necessary:
If you have even the tiniest hint you might vomit, RUN directly to your own bathroom and lean in full part over the toilet, as if your life depends on your accuracy. Do not pass GO, do not collect ME- just go! I will hear you, trust me, and will come with my maternal sympathy noises and cold, damp washcloth.
And while we are on this, do not wake me up during the night to tell me that you cannot sleep. Because then (just doing the math) we will both be awake, one of us unnecessarily and PS, she will be mad. When should you wake me up during the night? Good question.
Let’s review together: The house is on fire.
Really, it’s THAT short of a list.
Here’s why: Once you wake me up, I cannot go back to sleep. Somehow waking me up and gathering my sympathy lulls you into dreamville in about 3 nanoseconds, while I lay there in wide eyed pre-squirrel anticipation of the day until … the day arrives. This is because I woke up with you a quadra-ba-jillion times as a baby, enough that I am effectively programmed not to sleep through anything. Like the butterfly wing-flap effect, when a baby cries in Papua New Guinea, I wake up in Troy, New York. It has taken me nearly 20 years to be able to sustain even a tiny momentum of nano-sleep, so please don’t mess with it.
Not that my sleep is any more important than yours just because I have to get up and work to pay the bills and put food in your collection of bottom-less pitted bellies, while you while away the hours watching Spongebob and making a moderate attempt at succeeding in high school. But it is more important, so treat my sleep like a precious gem, or like your airsoft gun, or even the really nice car you could have someday if you added a even a pinch more effort to your recipe for adult success.
There. Are we clear? At least I feel better.