The Simple Life -
"Home Sweet Home" - a phrase we are all familiar with. Home is
where a soldier longs to be, where all travels eventually end.
Why? Because 'home' is spelled f-a-m-i-l-y. No matter how old you
are, or where you are, if you are sick, you want Mom. If you need
something fixed, you think of Dad - and mention home, you think of
family. I've lived in lots of houses, and it could have been a
cardboard box, but home was wherever my family was. I've never met
a person that didn't need a family, of sorts, be it conventional, or
I guess that's why homes can be mansions or cabins, apartments
or huts, condos or a motel room. Home is where you can always be
yourself and everyone loves you anyway.
A friend and I were discussing - what else - our kids one
day. We had to laugh. We deserved every minute of it! I've always
thought I'd rather have 10 toddlers any day than one teenager.
Toddlers are easy. You change their diapers, feed them, play with
them - not many tough decisions here. They chatter away the day in
somewhat blissful peace and only cry at bedtime - because you are
leaving them! But teenagers - now that is a challenge. They have
learned to speak coherently. They reason. For the most part, they
make their own decisions. You aren't with them every minute. (Of
course, you don't want to be, either.) Yikes - they get to drive,
and we're not talking bicycles! Life, it seems at times, is out to
get them. Difficult decisions face them at every turn. The only
thing that stays the same is that they are still happy when you put
a plate of food in front of them! At least, by this time most of the
food gets inside them.
When my mother told me she hoped I'd have a child just like
me, I didn't know what she meant, until I became the parent of a
teen. With all my great wisdom of experience,(Ha) nothing - nothing
ever prepared me for parenting a teen. We look at their tall lanky
bodies, we still see chubby, smiling toddlers. We long to pull them
on our laps and rock them and all their teen-age problems to sleep
and tuck them into their beds with a story. Those days are over.
You'd call your friend to talk it over with her, but your
phone is always busy - the kids, of course! We just can't
understand why our kids won't listen to reason. Actually, being a
parent of a teen is just as much a learning time. I just don't know
who learns more, the parent or teen. That's like asking 'what came
first, the chicken or the egg?". You learn to pick battles, gently.
Teens really love to keep you on your toes, too. One day, they
stomp to their room in disgust - the next they do the dishes without
being asked! You ask yourself, who is this person and what have
they done with my child? Then you begin to think, "Ok, what does
she want now?" You wait. You know the question is coming, but then
it never does. You chastise yourself for questioning her motives.
A friend of mine told me, still in shock, that her son had
come in with a friend and walked into the kitchen and given her a
hug - right in front of his friend. He wasn't even embarrassed. "I
can live on that one hug alone for a year at least!," she
exclaimed. I had a feeling she thought maybe there was hope they
would live through the "tumultuous teens" after all. She also told
me she suspected that even though she usually got a cold shoulder,
instead of a return hug, that the kids secretly didn't mind. "I
think they are as confused as I am! So if we are all confused, I
guess I have to be the parent, I'm the oldest!" She exclaimed. I
suspect she is right.
One frustrated mother said she thought she was mean to her
kids when she yelled at them. A wise friend told her, "You're not
being mean enough!" Really mean parents (remember the Ann Landers
poem?) don't have to yell, they are calm, consistent and intolerant
to misbehavior. When we uphold standards, remain assertive, and
keep our promises we are the kind of parent our kids need. That
includes the promise to mean what we say and say what we mean. No
second, third, and fourth chances that only confuse a teen. When we
make rules and enforce them, we give our kids, well - a home! We
are saying loud and clear - "I LOVE YOU" - no matter what you do,
say, or think. That's tough love. That's consistent love. That's
almost as good as a hug, and sometimes more important. The best part
is, the sooner we set the standard they learn what it is and we
rarely have to make a decision. Having an easier time with your
teens starts when they are born. Setting limits at young ages and
being firm sets the pattern. If kids learn that mom is a pushover,
it's all downhill from there. Everyday isn't a battle because we
all know what to expect. The teens aren't always bouncing around
trying to find the boundary because it's always moving. It's
"To a truly mean parent, being called 'mean' is the highest of
compliments", says John Rosemond, in his book "Living with
Then the big day comes. The day you set a firm limit. The
child is quiet. He acts as if nothing happened. You wait for the
explosion. The next morning it still doesn't come. "Get it over
with," you want to yell. After several days it sinks in. A new
realization dawns on you. He wanted you to set that limit. Your
friends tell you to wipe that goofy grin off your face. You can't
help it - you've found the answer to being the parent of a
teenager. "How could it possibly be so easy?" you ask yourself.
You set clean boundaries for them, they find out you mean it, they
stay inside the rules. Wow! Why didn't I think of that sooner?
Of course, some battles are not easy, not matter what you
do. The quietest of kids can turn on us like an angry mountain
lion, at times. But then, parents sometimes do the same thing to
their kids under the pressures we all face.
Take a deep breath and give lots of hugs that's my theory!
This keeps us all doing what we like to do best - enjoying our
family. Monopoly, anyone?
* * *
Betty Bobon, a friend, had the most beautiful and fragrant
lily garden last year. Her secret? She told me that they come in
bags of bulbs in the spring. I'll be looking for some and finding a
good place to put them. (I had a few, but a deer bit all the buds
off last year.) As good as Betty's turned out, a few more wouldn't
hurt. It's always fun to visit friends' gardens and see a plant in
a new way. Don't worry about being a "copy cat", every plant looks
somewhat different in every yard. I share lots of good ideas back
and forth with all my friends that's what they're there for! The
lilies bloom mid summer. That's another good thing to keep in mind
when planting. You can plant clashing colors, as long as they bloom
at different times. Orange day lilies might clash with pink tulips,
but the tulips are usually gone by the time the daylilies bloom.
Simple CHOCO NUT REFRIG BARS - Teens love 'em!
melt over medium stir til bubbly and thick - CHILL!
3/4 c oleo
1 c sugar
2 beaten eggs
when above is cool, stir in:
2 1/2 c graham crackers
2 c mini marshmallows
1 t vanilla
Melt over low heat and spread on above:
6 oz choc chips
1/4 c peanu6t butter
Sprinkle 1/2 c peanuts on top. Enjoy!
Keeping Parenting Simple,