I love kids – all kids. I’ve been know to post the bizarre daily antics of my children on Facebook, but I have to say that we all have funny kids if we’d just take a step back from their sometimes irritating behavior and realize that some of what they’re doing is actually pretty danged funny!
Even teenagers can be rather funny, when you can get past some of their smart mouths and the arrogant attitudes they frequently sport around their parents and sometimes society in general. Take, for example, my daughter. She’s almost 16 now and she thinks she knows everything. She has the whole world in front of her and plenty of time to go out and explore it entirely without “parental guidance” (as she likes to call it). She just can’t wait to be set free. Unfortunately for her, I’ve got about two more years of hands-on parenting and I’m going to take advantage of every minute of those remaining years.
A couple of years ago, Amber and her friends wanted to go to this city-wide dance sponsored by some out-of-town traveling entertainment company. This company rents out a venue, sells tickets at some exorbitant price and invites kids from the ages of 14-19 to attend. Hundreds of kids from our town and the surrounding communities attend these dances and, for the most part, I think they’re probably okay. But I have one problem with them: there’s no real adult presence. With the exception of the local police department, who has been contracted to patrol the perimeters of the event and “bounce” those who either don’t belong or who are participating in illegal or harmful behavior, there is really no one there watching out for the kids. The entire thing – in my opinion – is for profit only and there’s no consideration for the age difference between the 14 and 19 year olds. For the parent of a 14-year old girl just entering her first year of high school, the whole situation feels like a nightmare waiting to happen. After all, there really is a huge difference between a 14 year old girl and a 19 year old boy, both in terms of life experiences and in expectations. To mix the two with no “parents on patrol” seems to me to be a bad situation in the making. Maybe I’m wrong – and that’s perfectly fine if you disagree with me – but I’m the parent and I get to decide on this one.
To make a long story short, Amber wanted badly to attend one of these functions and she tried every possible tactic to convince me to allow her to attend. She started off with the “Please, Mommy?” and the “I love you, Mommy” tactic. When that didn’t work, she tried the tactic of shaming me. “But (insert name of pretty much every friend she has) is going. Their moms are so much cooler than you are! It’s not fair that they get to go and I can’t!” Actually, while there were a several kids her age going, there were an equal number of her friends not going, and several parents of other friends just waiting for someone else to put a foot down and say “No” so that they could do the same without feeling like the only bad guy.
When all other tactics had failed her and she could see that her campaign was coming to an end, she quickly moved to the tactic of pleading, alternated with bouts of nastiness. “But why not?” she’d cry. “Please, Mom?? I’ll do anything you want!” And then, “If you won’t let me go, then I shouldn’t have to do anything for you!” Ish! I keep wondering if raising a child will ever get any easier?!
Finally it all came to a head one night at dinner. I had said “no” so many times that I was sick of hearing myself say it. I was feeling like the bad guy and was actually beginning to second-guess myself, when the following conversation took place.
“But whhhhyyyy?” Amber cried. “Why can’t I go? I’m 14! It’s open to kids 14-19! That means I should be able to go!”
“No, Amber” I said.
“But why not?? You’re being so unfair!”
“Amber,” I said, “I’m your mother. I know you think I’m stupid and that I’m really old and that I don’t know anything at all, but I was a kid once, too. As your mother, and being 25 years older than you are, I’ve had a lot of life experiences that you haven’t had the opportunity to have yet. Those life experiences tell me that this really isn’t a good idea and that you would benefit from waiting a couple or three years before attending.”
Her response sealed her doom. With an attitude that only a teenager who feels wronged could pull off, she replied, “Yeah. Right. Whatever. Thanks Mom! Remind me: which dinosaur was it you wrestled for food?”
Ahhh..and so it goes! A lesser woman would’ve been upset at the age gibe. Nah, I didn’t get upset. Actually, I think I had to work hard to stifle the giggle that was pressing hard to be released from inside of me. Nah…no point in getting angry on that one. But she also didn’t get to go to the dance. Mom 1, Teenager 0.