Could We Have Possibly Done Something Right? (Part 6 and Done :)

The Australian Open Tennis Championships are underway! The first Grand Slam of 2014 is here! Tennis in the morning. Tennis after work. Tennis in the evening. Tennis at night.

And everyone wonders why I don’t get any real writing done. (“Yeh,” say the Aussies).

Yes, I’m moving on. Maybe a calming chamomile tea is in order. (Nah. Hate tea. Coffee’s my brew.) Hope everyone is well, this second full week of the New Year.

Can I possibly wrap up this series? I suppose I should have be done, but one incident with Older Son (OS) stands out too much to not share. And it’s so interesting how several seemingly unrelated events came together to help Hubby and me with our responses to the situation.

OS turned 17 this past November. In my state, that means a driver’s license, which he got December 11, 2013.

That means OS has had a driver’s permit since April. Sometime before June he came across a used car for sale, pretty much what he wanted, and a great deal for him. Hubby and I had our misgivings, but we allowed him to use a portion of his savings to buy it.

It got parked at a friend’s house, pronto, not to be registered or insured until he got the DL.

On a mid-June weekend this past summer, Hubby and I were supposed to go to our PA cottage. A dear friend had passed away and we’d hoped to attend the funeral, which was in the vicinity. OS was scheduled to work and Younger Son (YS) is in the ‘bored’ stage in PA (no internet connection for the X-box in the woods).

Because putting together arrangements for a responsible adult to be available to a 14- and 16- year-old was turning out to be more tedious than we figured it should have been, Hubby and I made a last-minute decision to stay home. Neither of us felt all that comfortable leaving the kids home while we were three hours away. And we’d visited my friend twice during her bout with cancer, so I felt better knowing I’d connected with her before she exited this life.

So, there we were Saturday afternoon, June 15th. Kids are both out and Hubby decides to step out—maybe run to the deli or something along those lines.

He came home livid.

He’s spotted OS driving his should-have-been-parked-car, with his girlfriend (GF) in the passenger seat.

OS came in a few minutes later, pleading his case for the necessity of the run.

Hubby grounded him on the spot, including not allowing him to attend a rather formal birthday party he and GF were due at in less than two hours.

Not sure I agreed with Hubby’s choice of handling the situation—he was pretty mad—and the party, as far as I could see, had nothing to do with the transgression. I spoke to Hubby privately (so that OS wasn’t aware of the conflict of opinions Hubby and I had), but supported his decision since it had already been made, and he felt very strongly about not changing it. He believed strong action that showed OS the severity of his transgression was necessary. I did agree with the rationale, but might have chosen a more related form of discipline (i.e., revoked even permit-driving privileges for x-amount of time, or something along those lines).

Aside: GF was kind enough not to attend the party w/o OS.

So, that’s how Saturday, June 15th went. OS probably said something to me here and there, but I reminded him (nicely) that he’d made a choice, got caught and now had to deal with the consequences of his action.

The next morning we realized there was some emergency vehicle activity going on a few blocks from our house. Being the mind-our-own-business folks we usually are, Hubby walked down to scope out the action then texted OS and GF to come down. They took off on their skateboards.

A FIFTEEN-year-old boy had taken his mother’s SUV—she had gone to church—piled in at least three friends and lost control making a turn. He ploughed headlights first into an electrical pole. (Don’t ask how the force at the bottom toppled the top third of the pole, knocking it onto a power line and taking out the electricity to one or more houses on that street.)

OS hung out, and chatted for a while with the tow truck guy, who talked about the law-end of what this kid and his family would be dealing with in the not-so-far-future. And that kid won’t be seeing a driver’s license anytime near his 17th birthday. (He kind of seriously messed up that privilege.)

So what’s my point? Hubby and I could have ranted and raved at OS for making the impulsive choice he did. We didn’t. In agreement or not, we stood united in doling out consequences. (We are lucky. OS takes his lumps like a man (?). YS shows a much more dramatic side, but eventually does his time—often the next day, once he’s calmed down.)

I’m getting at this: LIFE stepped in and demonstrated a real-life example of what could happen when a kid takes a vehicle, especially if said kid is not terribly skilled/experienced at handling it. Sans getting preachy, we used that illustration to point out how flippin’ lucky OS was that his actions the day before cost him a party and little else.

And how crazy was it that Hubby and I stayed home and Hubby just happened to be on the same road at the same time OS had taken out his car? Coincidence? I’m not so sure…

Anyone out there with similar experiences to share? Please do! How did you handle it? Would you have grounded OS from the party? If not, what consequences might you have imposed? Did life show up with a lesson better than anyone you could have given?

Have a great day, folks,

Joanna

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Could We Possibly Have Done Something Right? (Part 3)

Happy Week after Thanksgiving, friends! I am truly grateful for every one of you, among the multiple blessings in my life. We had a wonderful day (somehow, without turkey to go with the leftover stuffing). And Younger Son turned 15 on Saturday. I had a houseful of loony boys, made five pizzas and a brownie version of a cake. Cleaned on Sunday. I definitely missed out on any ‘relax’ gene that might have been handed out in my family.

Thanksgiving 2013 Before all the sides dishes made it to the table. Too lazy to pull out the fine china and crystal this year. We got through. 😉

Okay, so we took a week off and now we’re back to talking the parenting thing. In case you missed them, here are links to preceding posts one and twoBTW, this series is not meant to be a tutorial on how to get kids to do chores.  I wanted to share  my own amazement at positive–unsolicited–behaviors from my guys of late, and how blessed I feel because of it. The rest, as the saying goes, seems to have taken on a life of its own.  

Here is where we left off: EXPECTING my children to BE responsible is probably the crux of what I hope to have taught them to date.

My end as a parent includes teaching–but more importantly–modeling responsibility. And, if possible, with a minimum of grumping. (An area in which I hope to have improved as they’ve gotten older. Not sure I always modeled graciousness, folks, especially when they were younger.)

Far as I can tell I started when they were very young. (At least I think I did!)

Cant’ say it was all that complicated either. (It shouldn’t be, especially if you want to insure success.)

One of the first things I did was have the kids make their beds daily. (BTW, I do too, or Hubby does.) I always kept the job simple: all they had to do was straighten/fluff their pillows and pull up a comforter. (Note: Their beds only had a fitted sheet. I’ve never used a flat top sheet b/c it’s a bit much for kids to handle getting the bed done the way this mamma likes, so I skip it to this day.)

They also dressed themselves. Can’t remember who picked out their clothes—knowing my controlling self I’m sure I ‘guided’ them to outfits I liked, especially since I most likely picked out most of them at the store. ;).

My other biggie: I handed each kid his backpack to carry from Day One. Every now and again one or both would ask me to hold them while they ran a race with other kids walking home. No problem! I did, but gave them back immediately upon completing the race.

(That’s subtext again. What I didn’t say but showed through my actions. Speaks way louder than words, folks.)

One after-school episode stands clear in my mind pictures: that of a mom—I’m sure a very kind-hearted and compassionate one—leaving the playground after school ended for the day. THREE backpacks hung off her shoulders while she simultaneously balanced a very wide box of cupcakes with both hands. Her daughters walked in front of her twirling umbrellas. ‘Nough said.

And just the other day, my neighbor stopped to chat. She’d just picked up her kindergarten-aged twin boys. She was carrying two backpacks.

I bit my tongue and chatted about how big the boys are getting.

Next time: Not being afraid to do what you have to do.

Did The Kids Figure This One Out on Their Own?

Or do they just “get” something the rest of us don’t?

Happy Thursday after Easter, friends!

I apologize for not getting this up last week. Impending Spring Break messes with timelines for school-related paperwork, which has to take priority. (I always wonder though: God-forbid something serious happened to the person doing the write-up a few days prior–i.e., an injury–doesn’t the paperwork NOT get in on time? Does life stop because of that? Just sayin’… :))

Anyway, these thoughts were inspired by a conversation between me and my older guy a few weeks ago.

Most Friday mornings I drop my sixteen year-old son off at school. Our other regular passenger is his ‘girlfriend.’ I keep asking myself why I still put quotes around that word; they haven’t broken up once, and she’s been around three years (plus).

Yep. 1/26/10: that used to be part of my older guy’s text signature. This year, that date fell on a Saturday. It wasn’t until AFTER I picked them up at The Olive Garden that I realized why they’d made dinner plans and just assumed someone would drop them off and pick them up. (Yeah, the mommy in me got a little cranky with them doing that, but I’d missed the bigger picture up front. I got over it soon enough. And I got on my kid’s case about getting her flowers. Won’t tell you he’s lazy, but he can be a bit lackadaisical when it comes to doing things.)

Back to Friday mornings. He was doing his hair for school—I swear he’s the daughter I never had when it comes to his appearance—and I happened to ask about a woman who is best friends with the girlfriend’s mother. (Names are made up.)

“How’s Melanie?”

“She’s good.”

“Did she and Henry get back together?”

“Yeah. They’re back and forth all the time. They fight over stupid stuff. They’re like teenagers.”

“Have you and Fiona ever have a fight?”

“Not really. Her mom and Melanie are envious of us. They want to know what our secret is.”

I laughed. “I’ll tell you the secret: control. You and Fiona don’t try to do that to each other. You let each other be.”

“Yeah. I guess.”

Funny. I’ve got a pair of teen sweethearts who inherently get that. (Hubby and I do okay in that department, but every now and again it creeps up. Then we deal and hopefully have learned something new about each other, eighteen years down the married line.)

I’ve watched these kids in action over the past three years. Like her mom who grew up the youngest of five and the only girl, Fiona’s friends are mostly boys, the same ones who are my son’s core group. (Doesn’t seem to phase him none, to his credit.) Her appearance matters but she’s no diva, which is nice.

She and my son spend a ton of time together, but neither cares if one does something without the other. And—thank God!—there’s NONE of the ridiculous, “You can’t talk to that girl” or vice versa. (I’d probably bean either or both if they did. Can’t stand that nonsense.)

We’ve spent vacation time with her family and she’s come away with us. Spend that much time with someone, s/he’s bound to get on one’s nerves. Not so with this girl. They’re a lot alike—even resemble each other a bit—in how overall easygoing each one is.

Got me thinking about how much control gets in the way of having ANY relationship, and not necessarily a romantic one.

When one lives and lets live, life is so much easier on both sides. I can be me without worrying about feeling judged. Disagreements are seen as differences of opinion and not as a personal affront (most of the time anyway). I can do what I need to do without worrying someone else is going to get bent out of shape. When that goes both ways with a spouse, parent, child or friend, I’m can pretty much guarantee a respectful, peaceful and mutually satisfying relationship where two-way interaction just flows naturally.

What are your thoughts on this? Any experiences come to mind that you’d care to share? If positive, what made them so? And if not, how did you deal?

My little home in the woods. Water to go on in about a week–that means we can actually start going again! I’m psyched! 😀

My little home in the woods. Water to go on in about a week--that means we can actually start going again! I'm psyched! :D

Have a great day, all!

Joanna