Image by David Mark from Pixabay
Being a parent of a teenager is hard. They know everything.
We told our teenagers, “If you believe there is someplace better, I recommend you leave now so you can get there as soon as possible.” we will give you $100 and a ticket anywhere you want to go.
I was a victim of my mother’s curse: when you have children, I hope they are just like you.
My son was just like me. My daughter was like my mother. My mother was happy to see me blessed with the children she hoped I would have.
It was hard being a parent. Like most parents, there was no class for me to take. All I had for reference was how my mother treated me and the other patenting relationships I saw in my life.
As a teenager, I was a stubborn, strong-willed, and angst-filled. I was defiant in small (and sometimes large) ways. I talked back to my mother under my breath. I did not perform tasks until the last minute. I would let my brothers and sisters, whom I was babysitting run wild for hours at a time.
But, I always did well in school. I was a voracious reader and could perform simple calculus problems in my head. I was a nerd.
My first-born son was like me but worst. Where I was an introvert, he was a friendly extrovert. He played darn near every sport and got all As. He brought home other bad boys so they could all get into trouble at my house. He was a hidden nerd.
Like I was with my mother, he was my sweetheart until he turned 13 years old, then the evil twin son came moved in.
My daughter was another story altogether. She was quiet and reserved.
To punish my daughter, we did not send her to her room. Instead, we made her sit downstairs with us. That was the most horrible fate we could impose because she loved to be in her room with her books, her things, and her cat. She read any and everything she could find.
Despite the above, my daughter still got whatever she wanted. She was a Daddy’s girl.
My son mirrored my behavior with my mother. He would argue every point no matter big or small. We didn’t know anything; he knew what was going on in the world. We were too busy working to understand “keeping it real.”
My husband and I got so unhappy with his behavior we offered him “100 dollars and a ticket anywhere he wanted to go” if he could not live by our rules. We made the same offer to my daughter because she was in the room.
They could have gone to live with my mother, any of my brothers or sisters or their dad. They did not. They stayed to ensure that our lives would be centered around them and their behavior.
We made the offer because the kid was going crazy. One night he came in from basketball practice. It was his night to clean the kitchen. He told us that if he had to wash the dishes, then he would not play basketball anymore.
My husband and I were sitting in the living room, watching television. We looked at each other at the same time and said together, “OK. Sounds good. Get to washing”.
It took one missed game for him to tell us he did not mean that statement. He apologized. He told us it was a bad idea he got from a fellow ballplayer. We accepted his apology and went on about our business. He went back to basketball.
Another time we embarrassed him and my daughter was when the family across the streets teenaged boys were “running away.” Being middle-class kids, their running away consisted of them staying out all night, then coming home to sleep and eat when their single mother went to work.
Their mom was telling me how frustrating this behavior was. I told her she needed to throw away all the food in her house, clean out their rooms, change the locks on the doors and install deadbolt locks on her windows. Even if they figured out how to get into the house, there would be no food or clothing for them. She did.
Within three days after her actions, the runaway boys returned home for good. Our neighbor told her boys where she got the advice from and they told my kids and all their friends.
Another time, when my son was a Purdue University junior, he took a summer job away from home. We asked him to call home every Sunday as it was his first summer away from us. He did not call for two weeks.
I sent my military ex-husband, his dad, up to his address to make sure he was ok. When my ex-husband knocked on my son’s door, he was surprised and shocked to see him.
My son called me to say I was a paranoid mom. I agreed with him. But I also said that if you claim you will call me, then you need to call me or I will take action.
Lastly, my dreams came true.
When my son married and had children, luck was with me. He has a son just like him. The mother’s curse was alive and well.
I was talking with my son the other day when he said: “I don’t know why you didn’t kill me.”
His children are eighteen and sixteen. The sixteen-year-old is the one just like him.
“I didn’t kill you because they would have taken me to jail then you and your sister would have been motherless,” was my reply.
My daughter waited until she finished veterinarian school to have children. Her daughter is four, but her daughter has my son’s personality. She is a little firecracker.
I told my son that parenting is an exercise in extreme patience once the children turn into teenagers. They are the same great kids but without filters or common sense.
Having raised two decent, productive members of society makes me feel like I have done my duty to humankind.
Parenting is one of the toughest but most satisfying things I ever did. Stay with it. it will pay off…eventually. (wild laughter)
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