Friday, June 29, 2012

Unamused Owl

Filling in the blanks with stories from my summer job is a risk simply because some of the lessons and stories are so good that I have to save them to go in the book I'm planning on writing one day. 

The facts. Twelve year old boy, six year old girl. One mom. One dad. One loathsome, indoor dog. Three days a week 9-6. 

Problem #1. My disposition. As you may know, babies require a lot of energy. What you may NOT realize, this is usually just physical energy. You must get up, you must feed, you must change. You don't have to think, it's not usually stressful, just physically demanding. You're tired, you want sleep, and your muscles might hurt. This kind of strength must be easier to come by for me...

But bigger kids require a different KIND of strength. They talk. (I'm serious). They argue, they tease, they whine, they badger and backtalk and complain. It taxes your patience, the questions, the NOISE. 

"Stop kicking my seat."
"6, please don't put your feet on my seats."
[feet go down, probably not "kicking" in the first place, 30 seconds later 12 rams his seat back to 6's knees]
"Um, is THAT helping anything?"
"She is being so annoying."
"I'm telling!"
"You are so annoying"
"He called me annoying!"
"No I didn't!" 
"Yes you did!" [x47]

"Can we go to the pool?"
"I don't want to go to the pool!"
"Can we have a snack?"
"Is it time for lunch?"

"Is it time to leave?"
"Can we leave now?"
"When are we going to leave?"
"Are we leaving yet?"
"What are we doing for lunch?"
"I don't want to"
"You do it"
"Do I have to?"

"I don't have to"
"I already did it"

Solution #1. Stick to babies.

Problem #2 They're missing two big R's: Responsibility and Respect.

"Your friend has gone home, it's time to do your chores."
"I already did them."

[Really?] Because a.) I've been here all day long and know you have not. b.) I have these two things on my face called EYES and SEE you have not. BUT in the case that I was blind, do you really think I would believe you did your chores when you had a friend over? Not a chance. 

"Are you kidding? You practiced piano? You vacuumed? This bed is...made?"
"I don't have to do my chores today."
"Really. Well, you're 12 years old and I can't MAKE you do anything, but I'm going to give you something to think about. Your mom and dad come home and see you haven't done your chores today. They think or ask, 'Wonder why?!' and learn you had a friend over alllll day and you couldn't get your chores you think you're going to be having any more friends over this summer? I didn't think so. Get on it."

"12, you need to get your bathing suit and sunscreen on while 6 is having her piano lesson because as soon as your lesson is over we have to leave for your swim meet."
"We don't have any sunscreen."
"Yes, you do, it's on the table."
[12 continues to sit at the computer, 6 finishes her lesson, 12 takes his place at the piano, lesson ends]
"Alright, let's go."
"I need to get changed."
"No, you missed that opportunity, you can change at the pool now. I've packed your stuff for you and it's already in the car."
"Which bathing suit did you pack?!"
"Your swim team bathing suit, the one your mom laid out."
"That's not the right one."
"Well, you should have gotten your own suit in the first place, today you'll have to swim in whatever I packed you."
"You only told me ONCE!!!!!"
"You are TWELVE YEARS OLD, I should only HAVE to tell you once."

"Can I have a snack?"
"Sure, we have apples and goldfish."
"I can't eat an apple, I just got my braces tightened."
"Alright, I'm sorry I didn't think of that, have the goldfish."
"Goldfish are crunchy and too hard too. I can't eat those."
"Alright, well that is what we have, you can choose to eat it or be hungry, that's your perogative."
"Babies with NO teeth can eat goldfish!!! This is what we have, I don't care if you eat it, you can stay hungry, but those are your choices and I do NOT want to hear about it again."

"You can get in your carseat now and we can go get icecream or we can just stay here. Your choice." Even two year olds know the better choice. Goldfish or be hungry? Duh. I mean what does he want? We have nothing else...I'm not going to drive us home, I'm not running to the store or a drive thru when there is a perfectly good option...It baffles me.

[The snack thing gets me everyday.] They eat breakfast before I arrive, we have a snack after 10, lunch around 12:30 and another snack after 3. every 2.5 hours. Again, newborns don't eat every 2.5 hours! They don't eat every 2.5 hours at school! Those eating times are perfectly acceptable. 
[9 AM]
"Can I have a snack?"
"Is it after 10 AM?" 
"But I didn't get any breakfast."
[No idea if this is true or not, but regardless]
"Why didn't you get breakfast? You knew you were coming to swim team, like every other day, and that you'd be starving afterwards."
"My mom had to flush out her sinuses [PAUSE to CHUCKLE and think of that Chewy Granola bar commercial "Are your kids talking too much...?"] and didn't wake me up in time to get anything but some bran flakes." [Holds up a ziplock bag of bran flakes.]
***FIRST, if it's true about his mom not waking him up in time to eat, that is sad and unfortunate. BUT, YOU'RE HOLDING A BAG OF CEREAL, EAT THAT!]
"Oh, well, just eat that."
"Well, I can't even eat the flakes part of it because it get stuck in my braces."
[The braces card again...seriously, the kid must not realize that I had braces for SIX AND A HALF YEARS and KNOW all about what you can, can't and just SHOULDN'T eat...]
"Um, who packed that for you?"
"I did."
"Well WHY would you pack a snack that you can't even eat?!?"

Solution #2 Consequences. 

You must allow a child to reap what he sows. If you do not eat breakfast now, you will be hungry later. If you want a snack for the pool, you must pack a snack yourself. If you want to have friends over, you must do your chores beforehand. If you step in with a scrumptious snack when they come crying that their hungry, why should they ever eat breakfast? Mom will have a great snack for me in an hour. You don't get your dirty clothes in when asked? You might not have a clean soccer jersey. But I HAVE TO HAVE IT FOR MY GAME!!! You MIGHT should have thought about that yesterday when I told you to bring me your dirty clothes. Please note that I'm not talking about if your kid legitimately forgets his lunchbox one day. I'm talking about blatantly refusing to do things or making bad choices when they've already been warned.

I have never claimed to be a genius, but I am not stupid, and especially compared to a 12 year old, I think I know a little bit about the world...I hate it when KIDS think, talk, act like, an ADULT is stupid. Sometimes the problem is the subject matter, talking about things he really has no clue when he tries to tell me how to drive a Ferrari, or even how much money his dad makes...Um, do you have a driver's license? Has your dad ever told you his salary? No? Then shut up now. That is like someone who has never picked up a guitar telling James Taylor how to play a guitar. They'd just make a fool of themselves. It's one thing to say something you have no idea if it is right or not, its another to argue that you totally are right even if you have no idea. It's worst of ALL when you don't know if they know what they're talking about because it doesn't matter at all...and you can't say, "That's not true. Stop making things up and making people miserable" because the Lego Death Star really might be 4907 pieces. NO ONE CARES...but if you really needed that useless bit of information, if you weren't 12 years old, you'd just google it on your iPhone. Don't waste time or brain space. Maybe your aunt WAS in a high speed chase with police officers, maybe they DID truly catch up with her in the next county, maybe she DIDN't even get arrested for that high-speed chase [NOT], but I have no way of knowing for real and it is not worth my time or energy to argue with you or care. Stop talking. How one can possibly want the TV on after a day with children is beyond me. The humming of the refrigerator is about to kill me! 

I think I just don't have the emotional or mental strength to handle it. My tolerance is low, my nerves are made of the opposite of steel, and my expectations must be too high. Because (call me crazy) all of these issues from dishonesty to responsibility to respecting authority and one another should have been established by 2 years old, when the battles are usually goldfish- or toys-centered as opposed to back-talking and disrespect, honesty, and irresponsibility (and sex, drugs, and rock and roll further down the road.) At that point, you can still pick them up and carry them. 

Which leads us to Problem #3. Their parents. So after I say all of the awful things about the all reality, none of them terribly even their faults. I'm going to play a little game of if/then AGAIN...

If you want me to get your kid dressed, sunscreened, nebulized and to swim team on time then you need to have me arrive earlier.

If you want your kids to have a snack, towels, toys and etc. at the pool, then you need to pack those things up the night before OR as stated above, have me come EVEN EARLIER.

If you do not want your kids to eat unhealthy, sugary snacks, then you do not need to buy them. 

If you do not want your kid to also have pizza for a snack or a hotdog for lunch then you need to tell me specifically what they CAN have for snack/lunch every day.

If you don't want your kids to snack all day you need to enforce set snack times and also have substantial food in the house.

If you want me to enforce set snack times then you need to make sure your kid gets breakfast.

If you don't want your 12 year old to get sunburned, then you need to have him put sunscreen on BEFORE YOU drop him off at the pool, because I don't arrive until 9 AM.

If you don't want your 12 year old on the computer for more than one hour then you need to make use of the parental controls.  

If you want your kids to do chores while I am there then you need to make your kids do chores while you are there. Of course they hate me... "My mom doesn't make me! My mom would let me!" Right, well, she told me no. What am I supposed to do?

If you want your kid to do something other than TV/computer games all day then your need to give him some suggestions or me some MONEY. 

If you don't want me to do certain things, then you might want to tell me that before I do them.

I know that this venting post is probably offensive, I'm very opinionated about kids and parenting for someone who has never been a parent (which is quite hypocritical, like some jerk trying to tell James Taylor how to play the guitar or something...) but just know that this experience has been VERY emotionally/mentally challenging, I have had many nuclear meltdowns about it, unable to figure out WHY a 12 year old is getting to me so badly, and I was DREADING going and panicking every single night before I had to go. Fast forward to Thursday, the day I arrived and 6 didn't have her swimsuit on. Dad began giving me information contrary to information mom had, regarding important medical info, I didn't know who I was supposed to go by...we didn't have time to even grab a snack seeing as how we were hunting down a dry swimsuit, AND doing the customary frantic search for towels, flip flops, and sunscreen. 6 was late to swim practice regardless, and I met 12 at the gate already hungry at 9 AM. The day he hadn't have breakfast and but had packed bran flakes that he couldn't eat... I was barely holding on by a thread already at 9:15 AM...which is never good.

I decided to ask another mom to watch my kids, walked to the playground, called a very awesome friend and cried my head off for 20 minutes straight. I'm pretty sure I just kept saying over and over, "I can't take it anymore. I can't do this more another day."  Sooooo, long day short; we made it through the day, and the kids' mom got home and said, "Um, I can't remember if I told you or not but I don't have my internship for the next two weeks." 

Really? God, you just think you are SOOOOO funny, don't you?! It is not amusing to me at all that I LITERALLY get to my wits end, crying on a playground, feeling absolutely unable to stand one more day... and He says, "Psych! You don't have to!!!" 

I was not amused. 

Unamused owl. 
[I'm going to coin that phrase. Get it trending... #Unamusedowl]

Not amused, but I was SO thankful. Not just relieved that I didn't have to work, that I didn't have to deal with the stress...but that the Lord is for me, looking out for me. He knows exactly how much I can handle and He threw me a rope when [and I can't help but to feel a little justified here] I am obviously at the end of mine. 


  1. Thanks for reminding me why I expect first time obedience from my 2-year-old. And why he rarely eats snacks of any kind. Glad you're getting a much-needed break!

  2. OMG. I think my blood pressure went up just reading this. Yikes, Catherine!

    I hope you have a sweet and QUIET break!!