April’s list is simple — just three of the things I don’t want to be to my teenage children, at least not for awhile.
1. A friend; 2. An Enabler; 3. Cute. Read on to find out why.
1. A Friend. Sure, I hang out with my teenagers and we have a friendship-type relationship now that they are no longer little kids. However, I don’t want them to ever forget I am their mother and not just a friend. I don’t care if I’m not cool to them, and I don’t fear embarrassing them in front of their peers. Don’t get me wrong, I would never intentionally embarrass them. This is the type of embarrassment I am talking about:
At a recent high school sporting event I overheard a teenage girl ask her mother for money. Her mother replied with “No, I’ve given you enough already.” The girl then said, in front of several other teens, “MOM, quit being such a b—- and give me $5.” (Yes, she called her mom the B-word.)
At that point, if it were my child, it may have gotten embarrassing for them as I escorted them to the car where I would proceed to confiscate their cell phone and inform them of their inability to attend another sporting event for the rest of the month.
Not that mom — she opened her purse and gave her daughter some cash. She must be a great friend… Count me out on that type of mother-teenager friendship!
2. An Enabler. I have a few friends who love their children so much they don’t ever want them to suffer or not get what they want. They make things easy for their kids, and they provide them everything they could ever want, no matter the cost. I personally know of a couple who have been doing their son’s homework for him since about 3rd grade so he will get good grades!
I completely understand the horrible feeling of watching your child struggle through something, but isn’t it part of growing up? I would never make things difficult for my children (yes, I did know of a man who would make things extremely difficult for his son just to make him stronger), but I won’t carry them through all of life’s struggles. I might offer some assistance but no, I won’t – no matter how difficult it is for me – carry them.
3. Cute. Okay, this one might not make sense to you, but I recently heard my teenagers refer to me as “cute” — and not in the way I wanted to hear it. I went to the post office and left them in the car while I quickly ran in to get my mail. I parked the car and jogged across the street avoiding puddles from the recent rain. As I got back in the car, my loving children made some comments about how they said “aw, isn’t she cute jumping over the puddles.”
Instantly I remembered when I first went from viewing my parents as the ones who kept me safe to the ones I needed to look after. I remember my dad was 35, and as he jogged ½ mile down the street to our house I was horrified that he might have a heart attack. Why on earth would a man that old think he could RUN! My sister and I discussed how we should talk to him about it.
I guess we are now at the ages where they are shifting from looking to me to keep them safe and protect them to looking at me as someone they need to protect as well.
As time goes on and as my kids get older, I am sure our friendship will grow to different levels, and there are things I will always help them through. For now, I just want to be that mom they can depend on to protect them.
As for the shifting of roles and them thinking I am “cute,” I will fight that one for a long time. I do not look forward to the day they have to take care of me. Maybe I should have put “cute” on the TOP of the list.