So this week was one of those weeks when two great parenting stories landed straight in my lap. No Facebook trolling, no researching, just some real time interactions featuring two teens from two different families.
On meeting a girlfriend for coffee the other morning she arrived frustrated and exhausted having only just survived the first week back at school. When I asked what was wrong she explained that she had been up every morning preparing a cooked breakfast for her 15 year old son.
I was already raising an eyebrow at this point, and not in a condescending way. To be honest I was somewhere between being gobsmacked that she was cooking for a completely capable teenager and feeling mildly guilty that I had overslept that morning while my two children (who I never cook breakfast for) were left to fend for themselves.
Anyway, I digress. She went on to say that her son complained that it was ‘pancakes again’ and he was finding them on this occasion to be both ‘boring’ and ‘chewy’. It broke her. When anger and frustration boiled over she locked herself in the pantry and let loose on a couple of rounds of the f-bomb, some other choice expletives and his name thrown in for good measure. When the ‘teen exorcism’ was over she removed herself from the bowels of the kitchen cupboards and politely told him to have a nice day.
Having asked for some sage advice I suggested that maybe she wanted to provide him with a recipe or two and tell him to knock himself out. Either that or leave a box of cereal on the counter and advise that due to under-appreciation the chef had resigned.
It was one of those exchanges with a friend that left me pondering why we try to take it all on? We think we’re helping but we’re actually disabling our kids and feeling completely used and abused in the process. Where’s the fine line? Where’s the balance? What’s our tipping point?
Anyway, my spirits were lifted later the same day when my daughter’s fourteen year old friend arrived after school for a sleepover. She politely told me that her mom would be picking her up at 8pm that evening, taking her home to do the dishes that she had left in sink that morning, and dropping her back when her chores were completed. Again I was gobsmacked, but not in a bad way. I wanted to call her mom and officially declare her “mother of the year”.
True to her word she arrived at our door at 8pm sharp. She confessed that her daughter had only left a couple of breakfast bowls and a mug in the sink but a commitment was a commitment and she was proving a point. It took her more time to drive here and come back than it would have to do the dishes herself but she honestly didn’t care. Her point was that if she let her get away with it then then there would be a perception that chores were negotiable…and they’re not.
I was both amused and in awe of this woman. There have definitely been times where I have threatened to do the same thing and then run out of steam when I really needed to get in the car and drag my kid home.
So, the question really is…..where are we on the scale of ‘pancakes versus commitments’? Some food for thought….as long as its prepared by someone else!