by Melissa Moore France
All parents have dreams of success for their children. We want our children to grow up to be honest, responsible adults who have the best in every area of life–relationships, careers, finances, etc. At a child’s birth, moms and dads are gripped with this desire for their children. We emotionally swear to do everything it takes to get the child there. The warm, touched-to-the-core feeling of I’m in control of every aspect of this tiny, defenseless human being is awe-inspiring. Parents pledge to devote their lives to meeting the child’s needs, assured that the child will always reciprocate this same awesome love and devotion to our needs, wants, and desires. Yes, new parents are delusional!
Flash forward to the teenage years. The warm fuzzies concerning the children are few and far between now. I recommend keeping access to photos of the early years close at hand so you can remind yourself of the feeling described above. This practice has stopped my husband and me from killing a teenager numerous times.
Picture this. You are riding shotgun to a 15-year-old armed with a learner’s permit, who is driving you to within an angstrom of a concrete bridge railing.”Get over!” you yell.
She rolls her eyes at you. “I want Daddy to teach me to drive because you yell at me all the time for no reason!”
If you’ve looked at her little girl pictures recently, you’ll be able to recall the day you helped her learn to ride a bike. For an entire day, you chased her, with your hand on the back of the bike seat. Even when she had her balance, you kept running behind her with your hand on the bike seat because she was still scared to ride alone. Then you’ll remember the look of pride, excitement, and adoration when she said, “Mama, I’m riding all by myself, without training wheels.” You have relived a warm, fuzzy childhood moment.
Now you realize that you’re in a win-win situation. You got to be great for teaching her to ride a bike, and at her request, your father has to teach her to drive a car. Now you can sweetly respond to the eye-rolling teen. “You are absolutely right, Honey. Daddy will be much better at this than me. Let’s go home so he can take my place.” Just make sure his life insurance policy is paid up.
My husband and I have begun to employ a new technique of coping with our teenagers without exploding. It’s really quite ugly. We have dreams of exacting revenge against our children, our own flesh and blood. We still have that same strong love and desire for our children to grow up and have all the best things in life. But our motivation is different now.
There may have been a moment when I looked up at my six-foot tall, teenage son, shook my finger in his face and said, “I hope you have a child one day who gives you the same look you’re giving me right now and talks to you the same way you have just talked to me! And I hope I’m alive to see it!” Some mornings this dream of revenge is the only reason parents of teenagers get out of the bed.
Recently my husband and I had the following conservation while we were doing housework.
“I can’t wait until they (the teenagers) have a house of their own. I’m going to go visit them and trash it!” he said. “I’m going to wallow on their furniture and sit on the arms of their chairs until they wobble. Every time I sit on their sofa, I am going to jump straight into the air and do a cannonball.”
“I’m going to walk into their house and go straight to the refrigerator, open the door, and then just stand there in a trance,” I said. “And after about an hour, I’m going to go into their bathroom and take the top off the toothpaste and put it in my purse.”
“If they live several hours away from us, we can spend the night with them…during the week.” I was giddy with the new avenues of revenge this would open up. “We’ll set an alarm clock so we can get up at 1 a.m. and turn the TV on, volume loud. Then we’ll listen to music, volume loud. Let them have a taste of being woken up in the middle of the night and then having to get up early because they have jobs to go to – Great jobs, of course.”
“In the morning, we’ll take showers,” he said provocatively. “We’ll use all of the hot water and then leave wet towels and puddles in the floor. Next, we’ll tousle their linen closet so badly that the door won’t even shut.”
“Yeah, and we won’t leave until after they go to work,” I expanded. “They will have asked us to turn off the lights and lock the door, and we’ll roll our eyes and say ‘okay,’ but we won’t. We’ll tell them we forgot.”
“Let’s not leave too early,” he said slyly. “Let’s spend most of the day there…doing their laundry. We’ll wash 25 pairs of jeans, all in one load. We’ll leave them a note explaining that their washing machine is broken, and we don’t know what happened. We’ll put two small articles of wet clothing in their dryer and run it for four hours. We’ll take turns watching their electric meter spin like an airplane propeller. Then, we’ll take their clothes out of the dryer, wad them up and call it folding.”
“And on the way out the door, I’ll put their big screen TV remote in my purse,” I said.
“Oh, yeah, and when we leave, I’m going to drive off the driveway and rut up their yard,” he said. “But I’ll tell them I didn’t do it.”
This venting banter made the housework go by quickly. When the kids came home, we felt like hugging them again and giving them money.