After 16 years of motherhood, just yesterday I finally had the epiphany around the gravity of these words… “Oh, by the way.” Now that I’m enlightened, I feel compelled to share this so others won’t be blindsided. Basically, when you hear “Oh, by the way” from your adolescent beast, brace yourself or take a seat. This introductory statement will only mean one of two things: your beast needs you to do something, or some new and possibly unfortunate information is coming your way. Some typical examples you may recognize:
- Oh, by the way, I need to have a copy of A Tale of Two Cities for school tomorrow.
- Oh, by the way, I am out of lunch money.
- Oh, by the way, I drank all the milk.
- Oh, by the way, I’ve been out of soap in my shower for about a week.
- Oh, by the way, I ran out of my prescription.
- Oh, by the way, I need to be at school by 6:45 tomorrow.
- Oh, by the way, I signed you up to bring two dozen cookies in the morning.
- Oh, by the way, Jack, Milan, Cody, Nathan and Carson are spending the night — can you pick them all up?
I am fairly certain there is rarely a time when “oh, by the way” delivers a message of pleasantries or good news. Wouldn’t it be nice if the following sentiments were ever uttered?
- Oh, by the way, you look really pretty today Mommy.
- Oh, by the way, I did the dishes and vacuumed the house.
- Oh, by the way, I’m going to start a study group.
- Oh, by the way, I just wanted to tell you and Dad how much I love you.
None of those word combinations sound normal right? That’s because they’re not. Especially when they’re introduced with “Oh, by the way.” You see, a normal beast is not normally proactive in communication. And “Oh, by the way” is the beginning of a new topic in conversation. Therefore, it is with good measure that a parent be concerned when their teen initiates a conversation that starts with this phrase.
But on the flip side, we can use it to ‘encourage’ quality time. Such as accompanying us on the errand, have them help bake the cookies, clean living room before company arrives, tell us about their assignment, learn how to call the prescription in, etc. In spite of the element of surprise, the nice truth is that “Oh, by the way” works in our favor too. In fact, I have found that my beasts love me much more openly when they need something. And oh, by the way, I’m not ashamed to exploit that.
Parenting Tip: Request the things you want when they need things you can give.
[Galatians 6:10 Therefore as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.]