Today is Valentine’s Day. My thirteen year old twin boys just went off to school, eighth grade, the last year of middle school. Time flies when you are having fun?…. Well, some of the time….when we are not, trying to get ready for school, trying to find something two minutes before we have to leave, making sure my sons study for their test, reminding them to eat breakfast, and, well, of course, getting myself ready for my workday.
But amidst all of the chaos of the morning routine, I try to remind myself that these crazy days will come to an end one day. I look at my boys and see them as the adolescent kids that they are rather than trying to check off the boxes in my head of the things we need to accomplish for the day.
My son says to me: Studied for Math….check. Brushed my teeth….check. Did my homework….check. Ate breakfast….check. Deodorant…check.
I say, “But you don’t have socks on.” “Oh,” he says. “I will go upstairs and do that now.”
I try very hard to control my frustration as I think of the million times I have told my kids to get all of their clothing on BEFORE they come down the stairs for breakfast. I think of all of the good habits I am trying to teach them so they will be ready for high school so they will grow up to be successful. And when I look at them now, sitting at the breakfast table with their phones in front of their faces…
“Hey guys, remember our rule of no phones while you are at the table. Think about what you are eating. Let’s try to let your brain relax a bit and just be….only while you are at the table…please?”
They look at me like I am a crazy person. I wonder, does any of this actually penetrate their brain? What is really getting through to them? Then, they finish eating, leaving their plates on the table and slowly walk to the couch.
I give them a look and they carefully move back to the table and throw away their plates.
I again think of how many times I have taught them to clear their place after their meal. My mind runs away with me. Why do they not know this already? Do they think I am going to clean up for them? But I do not say this as they reluctantly clear their place and go sit on the couch, waiting for the time they are ready to go to school.
Then, they leave for school. I remind them to think of everything they need and ask them if they brought everything. They say yes. I give them a hug and wish them a great day.
They start walking as we live across the street from the school. One minute later I get a text from my son saying that he forgot his school ID and can I go bring it to him. “Of course”, I say, as I think- Didn’t I say, “Are you forgetting anything 45 times?”
When they are gone, I feel a mixture of frustration and disappointment in myself as I think of how I am raising disorganized children who are using too much screen time.
Then, I get a text from my son: “Happy Valentine’s Day mom. Ur my Valentine.” And, that was it. All was forgiven. Until tomorrow morning, when we get up and do the same routine again.
Parenting teens is not for the faint of heart. Figuring out what works for your family takes time, trial and error, and expertise.
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