Monday, June 9, 2008

Payback time! Teenagers

I got a minute to talk with a friend today and the comment was floated, "Oh, the teenage years are going to be so tough..."

I pushed back, "Nuh uh! The teenage years are the best... payback time."

Here's the rest of what I said. Imagine me getting really passionate and preachy.

Teenage years are the best part of raising kids -- it is when you see all your hard work pay off. They know how to cook, clean, and (gasp!) take care of themselves and (double gasp!) even take care of others.

My friend looked a bit quizzical at this, so I gave a bit of anecdotal evidence:

* My oldest says several times a day, every day, "Can I help?" The three coolest words I have ever heard besides "I love you".

* My 2nd oldest makes Belgian waffles on Sat & Sun mornings. I wake up to the smell of fresh baked, ultra high-quality waffles with fresh fruit and homemade whip cream... Get this: he even grinds fresh powdered sugar to go in the homemade whip cream. No pre-ground powdered sugar for us. Nuh uh. Only the best.

* My oldest will do the worst chores, simply because he knows that it would help others and that's more important than his disgust over ___ (fill in the blank with the nastiest chore you can think of).

* My 2nd oldest keeps us all on time & on schedule. He has this way of nudging us gently and kindly towards the door when we're having time getting to ___ (fill in the activity du jour) in time.

At this point I could see she was satisfied that what I qualified as "payback" was really, truly payback for all the diapers, laundry, and 1,003 other chores that make up childhood / parenthood.

She is a good mother, loves her children deeply, adores them really and is a fantastic role model for her girls. Trying to work through this "payback" concept she asked, "But all my friends with teenagers say it's so tough, that teenagers really difficult and that they can't wait until the kids are grown and gone."

My blood boiled at that.

Boiled, I tell you.

And I had the perfect comment. You know how sometimes you have the perfect comment? The world feels balanced in those moments, like the final puzzle piece has just been handed to you.

In this situation, the mother is a fantastic, attentive, compassionate mother focused on what was best for her kids, but she had heard the standard horror stories about teenagers. When she said, "...they're really difficult..." I could see a sadness in her eyes at the impending trauma.

So, the perfect comment was (drumroll please):

"Well, you get what you expect."

It was so awesome! Her eyes lit up and she bent down to her eldest and said, "Hey, so when you're a teenager, you're going to be good and kind and help out around the house and make Belgian waffles for us all on Saturday mornings?"

It was so awesome! Her little daughter looked up at her with a little, "Of course!"

So, I went home and told Vee and Kee, "Hey, you shifted the future path of an entire family today! How about that!"