I just saw on the news that Summer is officially here on June 20th. Oh my goodness. And we have no firm plans for our family vacation.For the last two years we rented a house on the Russian River and taken our dogs. But this year we didn’t plan enough ahead, so we won’t be going there. We’re researching homes to rent in the Lake Tahoe or Santa Barbara areas, but many of them have no openings at this point. We’re not leaving California since it’s just too much driving with our two big dogs in the back of the truck and they bark most of the time.
I’m partial to the ocean. My husband loves lakes and the mountains. He doesn’t want to drive that far. I think a six-hour drive to Santa Barbara is no big thing. Ay-yi-yi! How will the twain meet? The kids really don’t care, as long as it’s a “nice place”, they say. So, do you have any plans for the summer? Mountains or lakes or ocean?
I’m in need of some real advice here and wanted to share my story. Maybe some of you may have dealt with this issue in your family whether it was when you grew up or if you have children of your own.
Okay, enough prefacing already!
As I’ve written in Women Unplugged before, my son is 18-years-old, graduating high school in June, has sort-of plans to go to a junior college in September, doesn’t want to look for a job, doesn’t like to do chores, and expects us to still pick up the tab for everything he does with his friends just because we’re his mom and dad and that’s what moms and dads DO.
So, I read a book about what teens are like. It wasn’t an advice book, but rather a study in what to expect. The name of it is Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall: A Parent’s Guide to the New Teenager. The author doesn’t tell you how to handle your teen, but tells you what he might act like during the teen years. But the thing that struck me the most out of the entire book is when he says that instead of withholding things that you do for your kid when he’s acting creepy, you show him through your example that you’ll do things for him anyway because you love him unconditionally, without expecting anything in return. Therefore, you’re teaching him the value of kindness and giving and love with NO conditions of wanting something in return.
When I do a good deed for a stranger, I don’t expect that individual to do something for me in return, do I? No, I don’t, because I’ll never see them again in my whole life. I just DO it. So his suggestion is to do the same for your kids in order to teach them love and kindness no matter what, true unconditional love. Therefore, when Dylan turns into his creepy self, instead of taking things away from him and cutting him off at the knees with regard to money, I lecture him on his selfishness and attitude of entitlement, and then continue doing his wash, feeding him, driving him to school, and the like.
Now, my husband doesn’t work this way. He takes things away and cuts Dylan off financially because of Dylan’s crappy attitude. And this morning Dylan informed me that he’s no longer going to do chores because Dad has taught him that dangling the dollar in front of his face is the only reason Dylan is supposed to help out around here. He wants to “prove a point” to his father.
So what does one do in this situation? I lecture him about our family being like a basketball team, which he can totally relate to, and that we have to work together no matter whether we get paid for it or not. And now “I” have to do Dylan’s chores because he’s trying to prove a point to Dad? Dylan asks why should he do chores if he’s not getting paid for it because Dad says if you’re going to behave like a creep I’m not paying for anything any more?
AACK! What do I do?
My son turned 18 on March 15th. He’s not the most independent young person I’ve ever known. As a matter of fact, he’s not independent at all. Not to turn this into one of those rants about “back in MY day”, HOWEVER, when I was his age I had applied to numerous colleges, selected which college I’d be attending, had already decided to study in Europe for my junior year, picked a major, and was applying for scholarships and financial aid.
My son has no idea what he’s doing “today”. Tomorrow is a word he can barely say, and he certainly doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “future”. If a scholarship essay is due tomorrow, he’ll start on it the previous evening. Everything is “last minute”, rushed, and therefore never looked over twice or edited or thought about for more than a few minutes. Preparedness does not exist in his vocabulary.
Therefore, I find myself helping him get everything done on time. Is this enabling him or should I just let him fall on his face until he “gets it”? Of course when he was growing up I did everything for him. Duh. He was a kid. But he’s still a kid. He is no more prepared for life on his own now than he was when he was 3 years old. These past two years we’ve been trying to “prepare” him for life in the big people’s world and although he says we treat him like a baby, he doesn’t manifest any behavior indicating that he’s any older than a toddler.
This entire head discussion I’ve been having with myself was prompted by his telling me last night that I never make him any meals any more. THAT was prompted by the fact that his 13-year-old sister has been sick for the last 5 days with a high fever and a cough and I’ve had to do everything for her. He sees me being the maid for her and wanted the same. And I thought to myself, what the heck is he talking about? I’ve done everything for him for most of his life and he’s complaining that I don’t fix him dinners any longer? Could it be because he’s never around and doesn’t call to tell me whether he’s even coming home for dinner anyway? Or could it be that every time I set dinner down on the table he screws up his face and says he won’t eat it.
Hello? Do I feel under-appreciated or what?
Yeah, I know, weird title for a blog post. But March 3rd was my mother’s birthday. She would have been 87 years old.
And now I’ll reveal something that may cause you to really think I’m whacked. She died in January 2008 and every March 3rd I send her a Jacquie Lawson e-card for her birthday and I write everything I’d like to tell her if she were alive.
I tell her about my husband’s job, my son Dylan getting to be 6-feet 2-inches tall and going to college in September, about Allessandra’s great grades and her wonderful personality, about our two chocolate labs Annabella and Jack who she was so fond of, and of course I let her in on the news that I became an author – yippee- and wish she could have been around for the pub date.
So, everyone asks me, “Where do you send the e-card, Patti? Hello?” Well, I send it to my e-mail address and then archive it in the file labeled “mom”. That’s easy, eh? For some reason it makes me feel like I’ve communicated with her more than if I go to the cemetery and talk to her ashes, you know?
What do you do on the day of your loved ones’ birthdays?