Not making the grade: A summer school anecdote

22 Jul

Background:  This summer our youngest beast took his first high school class just to get it out of the way and free up an elective during the school year.

Mom: “How did you do on your health test this week?”

Beast: “I got a 74.”

Mom: “A 74, that isn’t very good at all for a class that is supposed to be an easy A. This is your first high school class babe.  Grades really count starting now.  You can’t start high school with a C in a basic class!”

Beast: “No mom, it’s fine.  The teacher said that most kids got a C since this was a really hard test.”

Dad:  “We don’t care what most kids got.  Did you even study for the test?”

Beast, rolling his eyes and taking on the know-it-all tone:  “No dad!  You don’t study for an open book test.”

No.  No you don’t.

If this is any indication of his high school readiness… it’s going to be a long four years.  Pray for us, please.

Feelin’ Loved Lately

6 Feb

Trivia Crack helps me feel loved

Trivia Crack helps me feel loved

Let me preface this by saying if you’re one of those families with teenagers who still hug and kiss you, tell you everything about their day, and openly admit to wanting to spend time with you – the following list probably won’t make sense to you.

What I’m about to share is a simple list of moments, realizations and events that make me think I may still possibly have a special place in the hearts of my beasts. So here goes…  And keep in mind, the following are not regular occurrences, hence the reason they make me feel special.

Things my beasts do that make me feel loved:

  1. Respond to my text
  2. Put a napkin over their food so it doesn’t splatter all over the microwave
  3. Bring in the trashcan or recycle bin without being asked
  4. Takes out the trashcan or recycle bin without being asked
  5. Puts the toilet seat down (OK, this is rare to basically never, but a girl can dream)
  6. Shares a story from their day that is unsolicited
  7. Shares a story from their day that is solicited
  8. Responds to a question with more than a grunt
  9. Likes a pic I post on Instagram that doesn’t have his dog or self in it
  10. Invites me to load Trivia Crack so we can play against each other
  11. Opens a door for me (any door, anytime, any place – even if accidentally)
  12. Clears his place at dinner table without being asked (actually this is one thing they do well)
  13. Watches a TV show or movie with me (even if it’s about zombies, it’s still time together)
  14. Asks for help with anything

Wow.  It feels good just to type this. If you’re tempted to feel sorry for me or find me pathetic — don’t!!  Remember about 18 months ago I outsourced my emotional fulfillment and need to nurture by getting two puppies.  So if I’m having an off day, waiting for a response to my texts while scrubbing out the microwave next to an overflowing trashcan, chances are I’ve got two baby puppies at my feet waiting for me to make them feel loved too.

Leviticus 26:11-12 — I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you.  I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.

Parenting Tip:  It may not be a picture-perfect relationship. We just have to be present and available when they’re looking for us.

La La Land

18 Aug

You Are Here

You Are Here

In case you’re not familiar, the urban dictionary describes La La Land this way:

You know when you see someone and think, “wow, they’re in their own world.” Well that world is la la land.

Well, I’ve seen first-hand that La La Land does exist.  Here are a few signs that confirmed my 13-year-old beast is currently living there:

  • Finding dairy products in the pantry.
  • Finding used hair product in the pantry.
  • Finding empty used sports bottle in fridge after asking him to put it in dishwasher.
  • After informing him it was in fridge, watching him put said sports bottle in cabinet and then realize it’s not the dishwasher after I inform him it’s not the dishwasher.
  • Instead of taking kitchen trash to outdoor trashcan, he carries it to mailbox then realizes where he is and turns around to take it to backyard where we store the trashcans.
  • Watching him bring the vacuum out the front door and up the driveway before realizing it’s not the closet.

These are just a few, very recent examples.  As hormone levels and surges begin to elevate, I think La La Land will continue to have one very loyal resident.

Parenting Tip:  Use that old chalk board or white board to write out a to-do list instead of ‘nagging’ them verbally.  They get a sense of control by picking which things they do first and marking them off as they do them, and parents can see what’s been done without having to ask.

[Proverbs 17:24 A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.]

Virtual Communication

6 Aug

A real conversation earlier this week with my younger beast.

Baby Beast:  “Oh Mom, by the way, I’m almost out of minutes on my phone.”

Me:  “Okay, remind me later this week if I don’t look into it tomorrow.”

Baby Beast:  “But, I need to figure out with Andrew and Jack what time to meet tomorrow.”

Me:  “What does that have to do with your phone? You’re going to see them tonight.”

Baby Beast:  “I was going to text them and see what time they could meet, but I’m almost out of minutes.”

Me:  “Can’t you just ask them in a few minutes when you see them at practice?”

Baby Beast:  “I’ll try to – it’s just easier to text them.”

I’ve seen it grow and fester more and more as my beasts have entered adolescence, and specifically as they’ve expanded their existence into the electronic realm.  The need for face-to-face communication is no longer a need for today’s generation — it’s actually seen as a nuisance.

When my eldest was putting off his driver’s ed classes, I was perplexed at how a teenage boy wouldn’t rush to get his license.  Then I realized, he communicates with his friends easily enough without having to leave home.  Virtual communication is their every day.  What’s the rush to watch a bunch of boring videos about how to drive, when he can FaceTime, tweet, text, converse on Reddit or talk to friends real-time while playing a Steam video game with them?

No reason to change out of your PJs or abandon a refrigerator full of free food just to get out of the house when you friends are with you virtually all the time.  Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, Ask.fm and who knows what else is new that I haven’t yet heard of.  With all these tools at their disposal, they know what their friends are up to virtually all the time!

I find myself asking my beasts every so often to make a point to be present when they’re at home.   It’s simply a request to engage verbally with each other, acknowledge the other people who are present when they walk through a room, and make sure to come up for air (a.k.a. get your face out of the screen.)

Signature

Signature 2Perhaps this is one reason why our school district has Speech as a required course for graduation.  Now, if they could maybe do just a little more to reinforce the need to know cursive.  I know a lot of signatures have become electronic, but for now these still require the real thing: endorsing checks, signing contracts, applications, driver’s license.   I mean seriously, is this how their signatures will look forever?

Parenting Tip:  Give kids every opportunity to practice real-life communication: order their own meals, check in for appointments, reorder prescriptions, etc.  It prepares both of you to believe your beast really can survive without you.

[Deut. 32:10b-11  He threw his arms around him, lavished attention on him,
        guarding him as the apple of his eye.
    He was like an eagle hovering over its nest,
        overshadowing its young,
    Then spreading its wings, lifting them into the air,
        teaching them to fly.]

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.]

 

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