I had four kids in seven years and right about now’s the time when that little stroke of brilliant timing (or lack thereof) is kicking me in the ass. My youngest is 13 (I just watched him eat twice since dinner ended. No. Wait. He here comes again…) and my oldest will be 21 in a few weeks (he believes that anything in the ballpark of that number gives him the green light to crack open beers in his room. Then throw the empties under his bed. Yeah. I may be down to three kids soon. I digress…). Throw in a 15-year-old (who spends more time grooming himself than his five family members combined) and a free-your-mind, what’s-the-big-deal, 19-year-old college sophomore (who has yet to meet a house rule that “makes sense” to her) and you can see why I’ve gotten a bit testy this summer.
In a nutshell, I’ve got a crew of kids coming and going at all hours, eating incessantly and displaying less-than-favorable teenage behavior, all while leaving a trail of clothes-dishes-wrappers-towels-slop in their wake. It’s making me see a shade of red which far surpasses the sunburn on my side boob (because really, isn’t there always that one spot you miss?).
Eventually though, somewhere in the dog days of summer (like now), when I have tripped over my final straw of strewn sneakers, my testiness turns into rage.
When my good nature is taken advantage of – I won’t sugarcoat – I get pissed. I start to reflect on the good life I provide for them. Then I think about all the cooking and cleaning I do, as if I’m running on some sort of masochistic hamster wheel. Then I begin to fixate on all the things they don’t do (if only that damn dog didn’t don his invisibility fur all summer maybe, just maybe they would know he’s here!). Then, finally, when I realize my simple house rules are broken to the point of parental ridicule, well then I become incensed.
Psycho Mom used to make an appearance during times like these. She’d rant and rave and carry on like a crazy woman and take away electronics and ground any kid in her peripheral and maybe in time she’d regain control for a little while longer. These tactics still work for the teens; I’ve duly hidden my boys’ X-box until their summer reading is finished and one kid’s already lost his phone for the entire summer for being a dum-dum. But as kids become older sometimes the game rules have to change. If you’re raising your young adults like I am (see my 5 tips from an earlier post), your kids are already making financial contributions to your household. It’s hard to ground a kid who’s driving around in his own car that’s insured by his own dollars. Tricky indeed.
So now Ball-Buster Mom pops by instead to take over the disciplinary reins. Example:
My husband and I recently took our two youngest away for the weekend, leaving the two young adults at home to proceed with their employment obligations, take care of the invisible dog and well, act like responsible young adults. Left behind with them was a litany of clear (VERY clear) instructions and expectations.
I won’t bore with the details (hell, I’ve already been to this rodeo and have written about it here) but let’s just say that within six seconds of entering my home upon our return, the young adults were busted.
Friends staying over without our knowledge, approval or consent? Check. Partying like it was 1999? (Despite your insistence to the contrary, that one little bottle cap under the toaster oven screams otherwise, so…again) Check.
So the guilty were charged accordingly. Since they both used my home like a hotel room, they were each made to ante up the cost of one: $125 a piece.
As a receipt for their weekend play, they were given full disclosure and sage advice: Should it ever happen again they’d likely be charged quadruple that amount and would find themselves on the needy side of some pretty hefty finances. Last I checked, those student loans had co-signers on them. Just sayin’.
So Ball-Buster Mom made $250.
She’s probably going to put it aside and use it to get to Long Island in September when her high school reunion takes place. Then she’ll tell everyone this story and yuk it up with all her old friends who did the exact same thing back in the day.
Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was just featured in the Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular, 1984” first on her list of achievements. She takes on cyberspace @Eyerollingmom and Eyerollingmom.