I knew yesterday that today I would be up early to mow the lawn, and I also let Matthew know. I had decided on 7am after looking at the weather for the day, seeing that it would be nearly 80℉ by that time, but knowing that it would be rude to start any earlier. Out of consideration for my neighbors I would sweat at 7am instead of opting to do the job earlier.
Anyway, so Matt was pretty annoyed at my time choice. “Why can’t we do it at eight?” he asked.
“Because it will be over eighty degrees by 8am.” I informed him. He sighed heavily and walked away from me.
I woke at 515am so I could get my head together before starting the project. I walked out into the kitchen to find a note from my oldest child in front of the Keurig.
It said something to the effect that he hadn’t been able to sleep, so he wouldn’t be up at 7am to mow the lawn, that he would be up closer to 8am.
“Dude thinks he’s got it like that, huh?” I mumbled, and went about getting a glass of water.
I felt tightness in my back already. I had been up until 11pm because of everything that I had done yesterday. I got like six hours of sleep and this child of mine thought he could dictate to me what he was or wasn’t going to do??
I decided on a short yoga session, but didn’t feel very namaste at the conclusion, as I was boiling over his lack of respect and the complete abscence of a sense of responsibility.
I knew damn well he had either lost track of time and didn’t go to bed early enough, or had blatantly stayed up too late because he thought he could get away with it.
Recently I have had conversations with him about his lack of give a fuck. I mean, I talk about how I don’t give a fuck, but my lack of give a fuck is on a different level. It doesn’t effect other people. It isn’t an inconsiderate lack of give a fuck. And besides. I’m an adult. I’m allowed to not give a fuck.
Our electric bill was almost double what we had anticipated it to be. This is a lot to do with how hot and humid it’s been, as our AC has been running basically non stop for quite some time. But it is also because my children don’t grasp the concept of a light switch. Not only does it turn lights on, but holy shit! It turns lights off, too!!! Who woulda thought. . . This dude walks around the house just turning on light switches because he can, I swear. That was Friday evening’s conversation. He likes to use his ADHD as an excuse. I’m not a fan of the excuse. He holds a 4.5 GPA. ADHD definintely is not holding the boy back. He uses it as a crutch, and I’m not a fan of crutches, either. There’s no excuse for not remembering to turn a fucking light off when you leave a room. None. I lit into him Friday night about this, and told him that I’m sick of the ADHD crutch. He hasn’t taken his medication since schools closed in March. “You don’t need medication to remember to turn off a light. But if that’s the excuse you want to use, maybe you should start taking it again,” I told him. “Your ADHD should not under any circumstances be used as a crutch,” I went on. “Crutches are for weak people, and I did not raise you to be weak.” Harsh? Yup. I don’t sugar coat shit with my kids.
Yesterday we had another conversation about responsibility, as I re-did the kids chore charts. I had made them in the fall, purchasing rather expensive ones with the thought that maybe it would make them do their chores more faithfully. I bribed them with payment for the completion of chores, but found myself still asking for shit to get done. So I stopped enforcing the chore charts, mainly because I was sick of bitching about shit not getting done.
So I re-did them, with a new idea. I wouldn’t have a set dollar amount, they would be paid based on what they decided to do. $.25 an item for Matt, $.15 an item for Chase. If I had to do minimal bitching, then they would be eligible for a raise in 90 days. I thought it to be a rather reasonable thing, as Matt could earn up to $10.00 a week. He found fault in it, however.
“This isn’t a job,” he said to me. “We get a ‘raise’? It’s commission based? These are chores. Why 90 days? Why not 60?” he said.
“Technically, I don’t have to pay you for the work you do around the house, but I’m trying to teach you how the real world works. It’s up to you what you earn.” Another heavy sigh from my teenage child.
I swear to God, the child is way too ungrateful, he is way too entitled. After all that I have endured to get us to where we are, and this is the kind of child I raised? Nope. We’re gonna have to make some adjustments here, and fast. Otherwise my oldest son is going to be highly disliked in the adult world when he gets there.
So, I contemplated this as I practiced yoga this morning, and as I dressed for the day. I made a cup of coffee, started laundry, and debated how to handle this.
I walked outside at 615am and found it was already disgusting out. I sat and smoked a cigarrette and contemplated my next move.
First, I was going to start the lawn right that instant. Sorry, not sorry neighbors. I only mow my lawn every couple of weeks anyway, and it only takes about an hour from start to finish.
Secondly, the friend he had coming over this afternoon was not going to be allowed to visit. He was going to have to deal with explaining that because he felt no sense of responsibility that he wasn’t allowed to have company.
I grabbed my headphones, gassed up the mower, and mowed the lawn. I was done a little after seven, and called both Grandma and Sophia to bitch about the child. Both agreed with me, that he deserved some sort of punishment for his actions, or rather, lack thereof.
By the time he strolled downstairs at 815am, I had the lawn mowed, had showered, cleaned up the kitchen some, made my bed and had the laundry going. He went to walk out the back door, I assumed to do the lawn.
I stopped him in his tracks and explained that the job was done, and that his friend couldn’t come over today. He didn’t seem to grasp that what he had done was uncalled for.
I debated long and hard about this. I wondered if I had anything to do with his entitled demeanor. I wondered if I had done something wrong as a parent. I wondered if I was being too mean in punishing him for deciding to not get up and help me.
What I found in my deliberation was that no, I wasn’t completely at fault, and no, I wasn’t being too mean in punishing him. In fact, I could have been meaner.
The child is thankful for things – he thanks me for the littlest things, like making him dinner. I make him and Chase dinner almost every night. It’s my job to feed my children. But Matthew doesn’t take that I actually do for granted. He keeps his grades up, and he is mostly respectful. If not always to me, he is to other adults. I get nothing but praise about him from his teachers. I am raising a decent human being, regardless of his laziness.
I don’t make a practice of complaining about my children, because I realize that they could be much worse behaved, and I realize how blessed I am to have them. But sometimes the struggle is very real. Sometimes I don’t mean the term ‘hooligan’ in a playful, loving way. Sometimes they really can be little punks, and that’s real life. You can love your children with every ounce of your being and still complain about them.
It’s our job as parents to raise our children. We can’t always be their friend. We can’t always make the popular decision. We shouldn’t walk on eggshells, afraid of offending them or pissing them off.
Matt’s pissed off at me today. He has made it known. But ya know what?
I’m pissed off at him, too. So we’re on equal ground.
He is still my first born, he is still my Matthew B., who I would give my life for. He is still one of the reasons I get up every day, and I am unendingly proud of who he is becoming.
But, he is still a child. He still needs his mother to teach him some things, regardless of how smart he is.
I’m going to work on editing some of the previous blog posts about my amazing Matthew B. now. Even though he irritated me this morning, he’s had quite the journey, and I enjoy sharing his story with others. Wednesday he’ll start his 15th year on this planet. Regardless of the lessons he has yet to learn, he’s an awesome child, and has taught me a lot along the way, too.
One thought on “Parenting Lessons”
There’s a great book called “Why does my teen act this way?” It was helpful to read as I try and get a handle on my teen as well. It is so tough to deal with them as they are going through all of their changes. Good luck!!