Teen Take-Out’s Nemesis

I just got in from a working mini-retreat with leaders of our women’s Bible study.  Our driver happened to be one of our MOAT esteemed Ironing Board gals.  Poor thing, I had her captive in the car for 50 minutes, so I made the most of it!

We talked about responsibility – the ups, downs, ins & outs.  She had just come back from Africa where she had worked with orphaned kids and the mentors that care for them.  As a result of the long-reaching and unrelenting arm of the AIDS virus, countless families are crushed and little children are left caring for younger siblings.  It is not uncommon to see a 7 year-old responsible for their infant sibling, or a 4 year-old walking mile after mile to school (an enormous privilege) alone.  They walk to school and back, then find food, feed themselves and their younger relatives.

Slightly different than some of our broods who could use a little responsibility lesson from their African counterparts.  (At the same time, it’s fairly obvious that a few lessons could be shared on caring for these young children so they can be children).

Thoughts on apathy:

We have a tendency to label our kids (especially boys) as apathetic (by the way…I’m the worst on this.) But I just might be getting the message, after hearing it 50 times, that boys are wired differently. So it’s not so much a personality defect, or intentioned defiance, or total laziness regarding educational efforts. Often, it’s just how their wired.  They don’t intentionally care less – they just aren’t thinking.  Like Kathleen shared with us on Tuesday, they might “kick it in” a little later than we, as parents, might hope.

This is where I begin to realize my nagging need to control things might be creeping in and crowding out my directive to love and nurture my man-child.  I have to admit there have been many a lecture dished out, just recently, on the need to finish summer reading.  As vacation barrels toward completion, my insistence on finishing this task has gotten hotter and hotter.

“Where’s your book?!”

“Huh?” (standard 1st response)

“Don’t ‘Huh’ me… you know exactly what I’m talking about.”

“Oh.” (standard second response)

“What do you mean ‘oh’?!  Where’s your book? Are you finished? Have you started your second book? Do you realize your brother finished his reading in June?”  (Oh, yeah … I said that. Pathetic, I know.)


Awkward pause.

“Okay, I shouldn’t have said that.  I’m sorry. …. Seriously, have you done any reading today? You only have 10 more days to get it all done!”

It’s at this point that I have catapulted myself into the picture, projecting the way I would do things. I prefer to get things done so I can live peacefully instead of procrastinating – a sure fire downer as some assignment hangs over my head, making me sick to my stomach.  Apparently, that’s where my problem begins … the old making it about me. It’s also where my lecture needs to end.

Fact: He isn’t burdened in the same way I am. Eventually he will get it done.  In his timing.

Fact: My “lectures” don’t inspire him. If I keep hounding and go down the road of making him feel like an idiot for not doing things a certain way, I can count on causing damage. I’ll heap loads of confirmation that he’s as much of a loser as he thinks he is.

Fact: He will survive whether he reads or not. What’s the worst thing that can happen? He’ll get a nice lesson on getting his work done … not for me, but for himself.

Fact: I’m his biggest fan, even when he’s making me neurotic. Sharing that secret with him might do a lot more good than my lengthy lectures will inspire.

So, I come home … and how am I greeted?  TTO is upstairs READING!!!  Go-To-Girl, formerly (and still) Sister Save-A-Lot sweetly runs downstairs for tons of hugging.  Slow Walker completes the hug sandwich, little Jack is napping. Plus a completely clean and tidy house – all grace of a few kids who worked together to fix our living room rug, vacuum (!), put away all the knick-knacky toys and get along.

No need to mention that I have been asking a certain someone to fix our rug every other day for the last 2 months.  I won’t tell you that his name begins with “J”, ends with “N” and might have an “O” in the middle.  I’m dumfounded that these kids moved all the furniture, maneuvered the flimsy mat pieces and laid the rug to perfection!  Did I mention they vacuumed??!!  Oh, and who is the one that did the work? Teen Take-Out and his sidekick Go-To-Girl!

Wow.  I need to leave more often. :)

Thanks for walking the road with me.

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