Oh, by the way….

11 May

How late is the bookstore open?

How late is the bookstore open?

 

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.]

 

New phase. Sad phase? Good phase!

15 Feb

A little boy's party

A little boy’s party

My eldest turned sixteen this week and last night was the planned sleepover/ hang-out with all of his buddies.  I started off the day doing what any normal mommy does for their beast’s birthday and decorated for his party.  (A typical mom trying to hold on to her baby and keep him her ‘little boy’.)  I thought it would be funny to put up some cutesy decor so he’d be surprised upon coming home from school to see the dinosaur-themed balloons, plates, napkins, streamers and pencil eraser party favors.

By day’s end, my quite-at-peace, goofy mommy phase transitioned.  Such a bittersweet and surreal moment when you come home from work and find strange cars in your driveway, only to realize they belong to your beast’s friends.  I know they’ve grown up.  I’ve even seen some driving around town.  But not until it was in my own home did it hit me that this is a totally new phase.  The baby beasts are moving on, and I guess I should too.   So my sentimental side pondered it and worked to cope with the reality that this is the beginning of the good-bye.  Independence.  Self-sufficiency.  The apron strings are appearing quite severed.

Then came the major pole shift.  The light bulb moment.  The cool breeze across my mind awakening me to the reality that this isn’t a sad, bittersweet phase at all.  This is a good phase.  They have their own cars.  They want their independence.  They want to be self-sufficient.  I can leave and go have dinner with my husband at my favorite Mexican dive because they just drove themselves to get their own food.  I don’t have to cook for them.  In fact, one of his friends even made and brought over a birthday cake!  Another drove in the driveway to hand off a huge bag of carrots to my birthday beast.  (I know that part sounds weird but the big beast loves carrots.)  I just sat back and let it all happen.

Teenage take out

Teenage take out

And the best part was when I woke up this morning…. they had already gone to get their own donuts too!  I am so off the hook.  Well…. at least until my younger beast turns sixteen.  2 years and 8 months to go.

Parenting Tip:  Whether you’re prone to let go or hang on – you don’t ever get to stop loving them. It’s just a natural part of us.

[Romans 8:38-39  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.]

Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Teenage Boys

17 Dec

I would think it really easy to fill a girl’s Christmas stocking — lip gloss, nail polish and those fun scented hand sanitizers.  Pretty much anything in a CVS or Walgreens would work for a girl.  As my beasts have gotten older, I have found it more difficult to find decent stocking stuffers that aren’t real expensive.  So here is a list that will hopefully help other mothers (who are raising beasts of their own) with new ideas to fill the Christmas stocking. By the way, these ideas are in no particular order.

energy chews

energy chews

An option to gummy chews, but not candy. They contain electrolytes and are great for athletes who do endurance events.

flavored milk straws

flavored milk straws

These come in tons of flavors and are usually in the grocery stores, Walmart and Target.

meat of any kind

meat of any kind

There were a couple of years my eldest literally had meat on his Christmas list… so why not?  Summer sausage or jerky fits in a stocking quite well.

 
car adaptor for phone

car adaptor for phone

extra phone charger

extra phone charger

film to protect phone

film to protect phone

pocket flashlight

pocket flashlight

pocket knife

pocket knife

sports beans

sports beans

These also have electrolytes in them and are great for long tournament days or meets.

performance socks

performance socks

energy additive for water

energy additive for water

Parenting Tip: And if you want to add something from the heart, you can include a Christmas letter to your beast that tells them all the things they won’t sit still to listen to — how proud you are of them, what you like about their character, how you’ve seen them grow, a specific act they’ve done that you found admirable.  Because at the end of what may have been a trying, frustrating or confusing year — it’s good to be told you’re loved, admired and that Mom sees the positive things too.

Merry Christmas!!

Yes, you can buy love

14 Oct

Our newest family members.

Our newest family members — Maggie and Cash.

I’ve posted in a past blog, “Love Hurts ,” how as the beasts get older, their willingness to show affection decreases.  (If I were smart enough, I’d create the mathematical formula that proves affections towards mom decrease in proportion to the increase of adolescent hormones.)  With my younger beast having turned 13 yesterday, I decided I was ready to take matters into my own hands and decided to do some outsourcing —  I got a couple of puppies.

Yes, it was a drastic move but I know dogs won’t let their people down when it comes to affection.  They won’t be embarrassed by me around others.  They won’t ignore me in public. I can cuddle them morning, noon or night.  And they’ll be happy to see me every time I walk in the door, not just when I’m holding a Subway sandwich.

I don’t want to short-change my beasts too much — they are still pretty good to me, but a mother has needs. Plus this decision to outsource my need for affection comes with an added bonus my beasts could never fulfill — puppy breath!

A summer of success

25 Aug

I really hate it when school starts back (which is tomorrow for us.)  I enjoy sleeping in and not having a schedule or having to nag anyone about homework, projects, etc.  I enjoy hanging with my beasts and having no particular commitments to cart them to hour by hour.   So since I usually use this blog to gripe, bemoan or sigh out loud and in writing about something beastly they’ve done, I thought I’d take today to share their top 5 triumphs of the summer.   Triumphs at least in my eyes.

Younger beasts paints a house on mission trip

Younger beast paints a house on mission trip

5)  Both beasts gave a week of their summer to go on mission trips and repair or rebuild homes for needy families.

4)  On separate occasions both beasts asked for permission or cleared it with me before watching movies they weren’t sure I’d approve of — I only rejected one movie that was offered to my 12-year-old which happened to be rated R.   The other movies were approved.

3)  I was told that a 17-year-old relative commented that my eldest beast is a person of character who holds strong to the things he believes in and wouldn’t waiver to peer opinion.  That may not always be the case as he grows and meets new people and circumstances.  But for now, it’s pretty good coming from a teenager about a teenager I thought.  (Wish I’d been a fly on the wall for the conversation that led to that compliment.)

Keys to the new car

Keys to the new car

2)  My eldest beast was thrilled to get his first car this summer — a truck that is just one year younger than him, has manual windows, doors and a cassette player.  He was actually most excited about the cassette player, I think.  And now I realize why I kept all my cassette tapes.  But seriously, I am so thankful he doesn’t expect a new car with any bells and whistles, or really even care about the appearances of his new/old truck.  He even kept the Hot Wheels key chain that came with it.

1)  I really, really wanted my eldest beast to get a job this summer, earn some money and learn about crappy summer jobs.  Well it’s really difficult to find a job for a 15-year-old, especially one who goes away for mission trip and spends 1/2 the summer in marching band rehearsals.   But God’s plan was different.  Because he didn’t get the jobs he applied for, he was able to devote about 3 solid weeks to clearing the side property for our next door neighbor.  She is recently widowed and was so appreciative to be able to see out the window of her sewing room again.  He worked hard at it, really hard – in 100 degree heat, several hours day after day.  And really without much prodding or nagging.

All in all, it was a good summer that flew by  so quickly and now it is over.  :(  Now it is back to the routines and structure and run, run, running around.  If summer is any indication of the school year though, I think we’ll make it through just fine.

Parenting Tip:  Recognize your children when they do things well, or even when they just try.

[Proverbs 22:6  Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.]

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