Being Promoted from Parent To Bank By Teenagers

Parent Bank
That time when you transition from parent to bank with your teenagers.

The thing about teenagers is that their brains are still not fully developed and they can act impulsively.

So the minute you diss them or flip your lid at them or do something parentally-incorrect (like tell all three of your readers about their shocking eating habits here), be prepared for them to be vengeful like NC was, by calmly informing me via Viber this week that her life was in serious danger.

Oh yes, NC certainly got her monies worth of mother’s guilt this week.

She obviously read my post about her fussy eating and came up with ways to exact her revenge in the most mentally disfiguring way she could find. She knows my Achilles Heel which is anxiety, of course, and in particular the irrational fear I have in relation to the safety of my children; a fear she has compounded recently by eating and drinking her way through a country that was devastated by a Tsunami only a few years ago and is currently in the middle of political turmoil.

I’ve got to give it to her, though – she’s good.

Her revenge was no doubt sweet. For after originally pooh poohing my concerns about the political instability in Thailand, she decided during her third week away that I might actually be right and that her flight from Bangkok to Australia on that country’s election day (with associated threats of coups, closed air space and no doubt tourists being raped, hung, drawn and quartered as examples) may be ill-timed.

You think?

Her bad timing persisted when she then narrowly missed dying (or serious dehydration) from a nasty bout of food poisoning within the same 72 hours.

Which meant that this week the old man and I were promoted from simple ‘parents’ to ‘the bank’ in our teenager’s eyes. Actually, that’s not strictly true as Kurt had already approved our promotion via his request for a new laptop, (the new one he received for Christmas having already been so mutilated by an errant glass of water that even the genii at Apple could not bring it back to life).

So once the Parent Bank had rescued NC from her first predicament by funding a new flight that leaves Thailand a few days earlier than the election, so that she can a) remain horizontal on untouched tropical island beaches and fly safely from Phuket in complete luxury and at our expense and b) see NB three days sooner than originally planned, she then decided that I still hadn’t suffered enough, went out and celebrated on some dodgy fish dish and promptly contracted a nasty case of food poisoning.

There is no doubt in my mind that Thai food is now permanently off our already limited menu.

I, in the meantime, was left feeling helpless on the North Shore, putting two and two together and making eight, and unable to shake off the horrific story of the mother and daughter in Bali from my mind. In truth, I was freaking my fucking shit – especially as the old man is not here for me to shout at or blame.

(And NC knows I’m on a diet and therefore not feeling my most fabulous self).

But we all know that everything’s fine on holiday until someone gets diarrhoea.

So this child of the old man’s ours, who remember is theoretically an adult, (when she wants to be independent), is throwing up and pooing all over some ghastly hostel on Koh Tao and about to lose her bed to some other Full Moon Party Animal who will need somewhere to crash and vom too.

So what do you do as a parent? Teach them a lesson and let them find their own solution, or do you reach for the credit card?

Obviously, I know my daughter and she is not a good patient. She tends to get REALLY sick when other people are just sick and she gets the flu when she has a cold – in other words, she suffers from Man Flu a lot, or as the old man likes to describe it, she attracts a more virulent strain of illness than anyone else.

So I suspected that even if this was just a mild case of food poisoning, the poor kid was over there feeling alone and like shit and she probably hadn’t even had the energy to put her makeup on, (and was most likely thinking that she was about to die and cursing herself for not writing a will that left her rock collection to someone who will enjoy it like NB; rather than Kurt who will probably find some way of burning and smoking it).

Because that’s what parents become when kids reach their late teens and are taking their first cautious flights out of the nest – BANKS AND THERAPISTS.

We become the John McClanes and Sean Maguires of our teenager’s universe. And we are happy to do it for a while if it will prolong the relationship of them still needing us.

‘Is she staying at The Hilton?’ was the old man’s only comment when he called me to ask what the latest transaction to Thailand was for.

The Parent Bank has offered an exemplary service this week and I must surely have earned some belated parenting reward points. Imagine this, at one point I even caught myself trying to sympathize with NC on Facebook, but she and I both know that I’m not good at tea and sympathy and my words didn’t sound even vaguely authentic so I stopped before it got really awkward.

She’ll hate me for saying this, (I love you, babe) but in my day we didn’t have mobile phones or social media when we went travelling to fall back on when things got a little seedy. We slept in our vom-soiled sheets, we weed in bottles and the hair-of-the-dog was our cure for everything, because we had no choice.

But to be honest, it’s been a while since I’ve felt needed by NC. So if a bank transfer is what she needs to know I care, so be it.

And I’m not suggesting it’s a competition, but I wonder how NB proved his love.

Parenting Tips: Dogs versus Teenagers

 

If you had your choice again, what would you have?
If you had your choice again, what would you have?

The only ally I seem to have in the house these days is the dog.

I don’t want to sound like some pathetic male looking for an excuse, but she is the only one that understands me; or shows an ounce of appreciation for what I do for her.

There is a bit of tension in our house at the moment. There have been heated discussions about the long-term effects of the ADHDer’s teenage angst on the family.

Nerd Child wants to have him put down, the old man has reinstated his invisibility cloak and only the dog remains by my side, my best friend and loyal ally.

Fundamentally, because I keep her alive.

If I do leave this house, (as I’ve threatened the ADHDer on several recent occasions just in case he has some ridiculous notion about pipping me to the post), the dog will sadly die from starvation or neglect.

If the ADHDer were a dog, I’d have been able to return him to the dog home by now.  There should be a special home for delinquent teenagers who have been excessively annoying to their parents.

If only he were a dog, then I could condition him to do what I wanted and he would show gratitude for even the tiniest morsels of love and lick me lovingly, (instead of sneering at me with those eyes of pure hatred).

When I am reincarnated into that young rich bitch with inherited wealth and living in my waterfront mansion at Potts Point, I will choose to have a houseful of Spoodles to share my home, and there will be a sign on the door saying ‘No Kids’.

Here are a few reasons why dogs make better offspring than teenagers:

  • A dog’s love is unconditional. The relationship I have with our dog is uncomplicated (unless she poos when I walk her) unlike the one I have with my teenagers – there are no lies, hidden meanings or mood swings to worry about. I am the mistress and she is the dog, and she respects me for it.
  • My teenagers’ love, on the other hand, is dependent upon conditions: how much money I give them; how much I ask them to help out in the house; how strict I am about curfews; how much music practice I force them to do; whether I remember to buy Coco Pops.
  • The dog is always in my vicinity but never in my face. The teenagers are always in my vicinity and usually trashing it. They are always in my face when they want something and stay there until they get it.
  • The dog eats everything I put in front of her without complaint.  The dog doesn’t pretend to wretch when I cook something new or refuse to eat the meal because it wasn’t what they expected.
  • The dog sleeps when I sleep, plus an additional ten hours so I only have at least six hours of the day with her. The teenagers sleep when they want to, usually at odd times of the day and night and without consideration for anyone else’s sleep patterns.
  • The dog buries her poo, the teenagers leave it in the toilet for me to flush.
  • The dog stops barking when I ask her to. The teenagers do not respond to simple requests to turn down their noise (usually because they can’t hear me) making it therefore necessary to shout or nag.
  • The dog does not have selective hearing. She comes when I call her.
  • The dog does not drink my wine, nor does she get loud or silly.
  • The dog does not demand clean clothes with a few minutes notice and then tut at me for not mind-reading her plans.
  • If the dog pukes from over-indulgence, she cleans her own mess up.
  • The dog always looks at me with love. The teenagers haven’t looked at me with love since I bought each of them their first mobiles.
  • When I leave the dog in the house while I am out, she does not leave every cupboard door or drawer open or eat all of my special Muesli. She has a self-drying coat so I don’t have to worry about picking up her discarded towels.
  • When the dog goes out, she does not bring home three or four friends to stay the night without informing me.
  • I can prevent the dog from getting pregnant.
  • The dog’s grunts are a more intelligent form of communication than those of the teenagers.
  • The dog doesn’t borrow my clothes without asking and then lend them to her friends.
  • The dog doesn’t make me feel like a raided cash machine. She gives back.

In essence, I can control the dog and the dog respects those boundaries. The ADHDer thinks that those boundaries suck and retaliates against them daily, grinding us all into the ground.

I have offered Pet Rescue a vast sum of money to take the ADHDer and am patiently awaiting their response.

Those Scabby Perfect Parents Next Door

In principal I consider myself to be a decent person. Very occasionally my control slips and the filter crashes and those inner badass thoughts work their way out, but in my defense I do have a sponsored African child, so I must be fundamentally good, right?

Camping in the Seventies by Scuola di Atene

I admit that parenting is not my greatest achievement, and the way I deal with those people that rub my nose in my failing, is to ignore them. I can appreciate goodness in other people, (even if secretly I do consider them to be sanctimoniously nauseating and obviously dull), but aspiring to be AS good as them is probably that bridge too far for me personally.

Today’s piece could either be categorised as a ‘mother guilt’ post (words my counsellor says no mother should never utter) or simply a rant at perfect parents.

You decide.

Our new neighbours decided to humiliate all the other parents in the street at the weekend; by camping OVERNIGHT with their children in the garden.

Last weekend WASN’T A BIRTHDAY, CHRISTMAS OR A REPLACEMENT HOLIDAY, and I can’t yet decide if they were just trying to show off, or if there was a more sinister message at large. Marking territory is one thing; subverting the laws of parenting is another.

I mean, who does that? It’s one of those parental uber NOs that at some stage during birthing classes we all silently agreed upon, right? Thou shalt neither mock nor show up the lack of parental skills in others.

The ADHDer gave me the news. He bounded excitedly to greet me from work, (a behaviour that instantly alerted me to something being amiss), having spent the afternoon spying through our spy hole the fence, tongue no doubt hanging on the lawn in envy. Knackered and in urgent need of a soothing bottle, my street antennae had already picked up on the irritating sound of Perfect Father next door, hammering in the final pegs of his parenting win.

‘What the f*ck is that banging noise?’ I might have asked the kids.

(You see, the old man and I, (on the other hand), were having an ‘alternative parenting’ weekend, letting the Xbox and Pizza Hut parent the teens whilst I worked my ass off and he walked the Great Wall of China. We like to reserve rash parent/child bonding experiences that involve fresh air, healthy eating and patience for special occasions like birthdays and Christmas).

‘The Jones are camping in the garden!’ he panted like a puppy, obviously praying that I might suddenly come over all momsy-ish and radically suggest doing the same.

‘Well, we hate camping,’ I began to argue, watching the excitement ebb from his face; too slowly for even my cold bitch comfort levels, ‘and anyway, we’re going to have an even funner night ahead of us, swimming in OUR POOL (said in loud, shrill voice so that the neighbours can definitely hear), watching some really violent movies and stuffing our faces with crap.’ I countered.

‘Why don’t we ever do anything fun?’ he whined dejectedly in response, pushing the knife just that little bit further into my heart.

Why do kids only remember the sh*t stuff?

Mia Freedman wrote about the exact same issue last weekend on Mamamia, (Somone Will Cry and If It’s Not Me It’s A Win). Why do we consciously try to create ‘moments’ with our kids, ‘manufactured’ memories that we hope they will remember when someone haphazardly happens to ask them in their future, ‘so, how was your childhood? Screwed up by your parents?’

Like Mia’s admission, our ‘moments’ of family togetherness haven’t always gone to plan either.

There was the Bali Belly-induced projectile vomiting at Sydney airport which was fun; the 16th family birthday lunch, where the birthday girl was so hung-over that she sat slumped in her lasagne for all three courses while the grandparents dissected our parenting abilities; and the infamous camping trip where the old man dismantled the tent around us before dawn, because he simply couldn’t take any more.

The best memories are rarely manufactured; they just happen. Kerri Sackville (In Hot Pursuit Of Joy) discovered that last week, when she ended up chasing an ice cream van down the street. They often happen when you least expect them to, but you do recognise them for what they are, anyway. My unco fall off that bike in the paddy fields of Bali, the old man doing his Gangnam thing in the kitchen and my daughter’s boob tube slipping down at her first public dance performance, are all lasting family memories.

So why do I constantly feel the need to keep up with the Jones when it comes to parenting?

As we listened to our neighbours frolick around their tent late last night, the guilt was finally assuaged by the wine and I realised that we all love our kids, we just have different ways of showing them it.

Camping in the Seventies courtesy of Scuola di Athene at www.flickr.com