Teen housekeeping

bike ramp 1Every day before I leave for work I produce a list of chores. It is in an easy-to-read, table format. Responsibilities are clearly assigned. And for the most part, the chores get done.

But there’s still a tortilla sitting on the arm of the couch in the TV room.

And there is the problem, in a nut shell. All that gets done is what I specify. And I forgot yesterday to add to the list, “Please pick up the tortilla in the basement TV room.”

A tortilla! Courtesy of the very same child who once accidentally lured a mouse into his bedroom by leaving a tortilla under his bed. They’ve learned nothing.

When I worked at home, I knew I was doing most of the heavy lifting when it came to housework, but I had no idea that I was single-handedly keeping chaos from my door. The evidence of our reduced housekeeping state is everywhere. The four-foot weeds in the yard and the cobwebs in the corners are bad enough. It’s that other stuff I can’t stand, like the gum underneath my cabinet counter. The silverware under the couch. And the vast expanse of laundry, everywhere but in the dirty-laundry depositories conveniently located in every room.

I keep holding out that one day my kids will wake up, realize they are pigs, and spontaneously scrub the kitchen floor. So far, nothing. The only person who has awakened to my plight is my extremely bored nanny, who helpfully empties the dishwasher every day and puts everything in the wrong place. Making dinner at my house is like a treasure hunt with a low payout.

I had a glimmer of hope yesterday. I returned home from work to discover that my youngest son and his friends had weeded the path at the side of the yard. It was pristine – not a weed in sight.

“Finally,” I thought, “Someone doing a chore just because it needs to be done!”

Turns out they weeded so they could build a bike jump. A gum wrapper on your rug is acceptable; a weed on the approach to the bike jump is not.

At least they have standards. I’ll take what I can get.

Five important things to know about teens

surly teenRaising teens is a dangerous business. It’s easy to fixate on the perils and temptations that seem to await them around every corner. But if you haven’t reached the teen stage yet, you may not realize the perils that await you, the parent.

Here are my top five:

  1. Dumb, monotonous pop songs will run endlessly through your head. As soon as you manage to get a song off your mind someone will turn on the radio and it will be on again.
  2. You will never again be able to find an unoccupied bathroom, even if you have boys. We have .60 bathrooms per capita at our house but I have to stay up until the wee hours just to get a shower.
  3. Their activities will consume all of your time and money until they are old enough to drive, at which point they will take only half your time and all of your money.
  4. The most gag-ifying smell on earth is a damp ski glove/hockey glove/lacrosse glove. Just burn them when you’re done with them.
  5. Your teen will not tell you about an illness or injury until they are at the point of hospitalization if they think it will cause them to miss a sleepover/outing with friends/date/tournament/fill in the blank.

What have I missed, oh beleaguered parents of other teens?

#2: How do I talk to my surly teen?

desertToday’s installment of Search Terms of the Sad and Desperate, where I offer advice to visitors whose search terms hit my blog: “How do I talk to my surly teen?” and its variations:

  • How to communicate with a surly teen
  • How to communicate with my surly silent teenager
  • How do I speak to my surly teenager
  • Teenager very surly when ask them to do something

First of all, let me pose a counter-question: Why do you want to talk to your Surly Teen? If you can consider foregoing this, it is relatively easy to do, given that most teens only communicate when they want something. Just follow one of these easy methods:

Method 1: Never initiate communication. 90% of the time, this will avoid the need to engage in conversation. Most teens will not converse with you as a matter of course. That would require them to look up from their phones.

Method 2: Pretend you don’t hear them. The best way to do this is to create noise doing housework the teen doesn’t want to do. The response, “I can’t hear you over the vacuum/garbage disposal/lawnmower” will eliminate all but the most desperate requests.

Method 3: Tell them to ask again when they are able to do so in a civil tone. Since it requires nearly impossible effort for a teen to speak in a civil tone, your problem is solved.

And for the reader who asked, “When does teenage surliness end?” That’s easy. When they reach adulthood which, depending on the child, takes a mere 12-15 years.

Read the series:

Anxiety dreams involving my kids 

 

A disclaimer: While it perhaps shouldn’t need saying, let me remind you that I have no credentials, training or certifications of any kind that would qualify me to mete out advice to anyone. This is a humor blog. If you don’t find it funny, well, that’s another issue.

What we learned in school this year

IMG_0664Now that we have a week of summer break under our belts, and the report cards have arrived with all their glorious news, I’ve taken some time to reflect on our school year and the valuable lessons we learned:

  • Physics: An object (such as a yogurt cup) when visited upon by a greater force (you sitting on it) will leak all over your backpack.
  • Band: It is generally advisable to bring your musical instrument home from school on the day of the band concert.
  • Shop: For best results, empty a pencil sharpener before you stow it in your backpack.
  • Health: Just because they use that language in the video, it doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for the school cafeteria.
  • Chemistry: If you leave fruit in your water bottle for three days, you can create alcohol, and on a related note…
  • Biology: A lunchbox containing food, when left at school for a week, will generate penicillin.
  • Literature: The Handmaid’s Tale is not an uplifting read, but you can get away with using profanity in your book report.
  • Technology: If you don’t keep an eye on your Instagram settings, your mother will make you spend an entire Saturday morning blocking all your followers.

That’s all today, class.

Random thoughts from a bus trip

IMG_0289It’s been two weeks since I rode a bus full of band students from Minneapolis to Chicago and the pain is beginning to fade. As I caught up on some miscellaneous tasks today, I came across the random notes I made on my iPad during the trip. My iPad and the wi-fi on the bus kept me sane. They gave me something to do, despite the fact that I was fighting for the wi-fi with 40 teens, most of whom were either playing Clash of Clans or streaming Netflix.

An aside: Six of those students are now upstairs prepping for a dance. I’m not sure why they’re all at our home, but I think I might have been voted “least objectionable parent”.

Anyway, here are a few of the thoughts I captured during the 30-odd hours we spent on the bus:

  • When you chaperone teens no one wants to sit by you so you score a whole seat.
  • This bus could have used some aggressive vacuuming before we boarded.
  • I’m going to have to be very careful not to accidentally swear.
  • Ick. I wish I hadn’t dropped my coat on the floor.
  • Chaperoning teens is a little like being Vice President of the United States – no one really believes you have any power.
  • It’s getting pretty ripe in here. I hope none of those smells are me.
  • No matter how many times you tell junior high students they cannot eat on the bus, they will eat on the bus. They will ALL eat on the bus. Even if they’re sitting right next to you.
  • I would never have guessed I could sleep on a bus on which at least thirty-five people are shouting, but then again, I did fall asleep in that nightclub in San Francisco.
  • The $8 popcorn at Navy Pier really is worth $8, and one should not be left alone with it.
  • If I’d driven in the opposite direction for this same amount of time without stopping I could be in Montana right now.
  • Why is it the only person who left their musical instrument on the bus is my daughter? And she thinks I’m not going to notice?

Someone asked me if I might consider chaperoning again in three years when my oldest son makes the Chicago trip. Despite the fact that he will spend even more time trying to avoid me than my daughter (if that’s even possible) I might be ready by then. I’m guessing, like childbirth, the thought of the pain grows dim over time to be replaced by precious memories.

Umm…let’s see. Precious memories from the trip…