Holidays are fun.

Holidays are fun.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Teens and 4 year olds...Moms don't sleep if either is in the house.

Good evening!

Remember, parents, when the kids were babies, getting you up in the middle of the night and you'd slog through your day exhausted, but eager in the knowledge that just as soon as the kids slept through the night, your life would be back to normal?

Weren't we idiots?

I haven't had a full, uninterrupted, 7-8 hour long night's sleep since early 1993.  I have a sleep debt that rivals the national debt...of any country.  My sleep debt is worse than my credit card balances.  And I know I'm not the only one.  How do I know?

I stop at either Starbucks or Kwik Trip every morning on my way to work for one thing and one thing only:  the life giving, energy creating black gold that is coffee.  And I've discovered another amazing "Mother's Helper" in the form of "Five hour Energy."  Tastes vile, but it gets me through the afternoons and to dinner time.

But I'm not here today to talk about coffee.  If I were, this would simply be a hymn of praise to the beverage I discovered so late in life  (33).  But it's not about that.

No, today I want to weigh in on the myth that once your child is able to get him/herself around to things, your stress and worrying days are over.  Sorry...they have just begun.  See, once the kid can drive, you stop knowing where they are every moment of the day.  You stop knowing who they are with, who all their friends are, what they are eating.  Once a kid goes mobile, it's all over but the gray hair and the sleepless nights.

The kids have no idea why we worry because 16, 17, 18 year olds are sure that since they are behaving and obeying the laws of the road, everyone else is.  Nothing bad can happen to them as long as they behave.  I guess I sort of blame modern day parenting, because haven't we spent a lot of time teaching our kids that if they behave they won't get into trouble?  So we give them that false sense of security, and release to the world. Meanwhile we parents sit at home, and conjure up about 900 different ways our kids are being injured, maimed, abducted, brainwashed, drugged, mugged, mauled, and sold into a cult.  By the time they roll in to the house, no matter what the time, we are in a full on parental stress lather, and furious at the kid.  Kid doesn't understand why we are furious...and thus begins yet another round of eye rolling, door slamming,  Face book status wailing that makes up much of teen/parent relationships.

Case in point:  last week Skippy wanted to drive to Chicago to see some friends.  For the record, I've never met these friends, but every friend of Skippy's I have met has been polite, well mannered, and well behaved.  He's gone to see these friends before, so it wasn't like this was a wild request.  So, with much parental admonition to "be careful"  and "be smart" and "don't drink, don't smoke, don't do drugs, and keep your clothes on"  (my four point plan for keeping my kids off Maury Povich), we waved him off to the Windy City.

Now, since Skippy is very close to his 18th birthday and since he's been a pretty responsible kid all along  (Following, as he had, the four point plan to avoiding the Maury Povich show) we don't really have so much a curfew for him in the summer as we do a suggestion that if he's going to be later than 12:30, he needs to text us.

As a side note, let me weigh in on texting.  I think the immediate link we have to everyone via cell phone and text is wonderful.  I loved having a cell phone because it ended my need to look up phone numbers of movie theaters on the rare nights Hubby and I actually went out and hired a babysitter.  However...since we have that immediate and direct connection, and moms I know you feel this way too, isn't it TOO ANNOYING when we text our kids and they don't get back to us IMMEDIATELY?  Seriously...what is wrong with them.

(Which is about the time I get the lecture from Skippy  "Mom, what do you want...you want me to text and drive and wind up dead?  Or on Maury Povich?")

So texting is almost as much of a curse as it is a blessing for us moms who panic when we don't hear from our precious darlings immediately.

But I'm telling you all that to tell you this:  The day we sent Skippy careening into the big city, we didn't give him a specific time to be home.  "You're not spending the night down there."  (After all...the friends he was going to see are females...a year older, you know  COLLEGE GIRLS...)

At 11:00, which is my bedtime, I texted him and asked when he'd be home.  His response?  "Later." 

I'd like to say he's a man of few words, but really he just likes aggravating me with one word answers.

So, as I do when my kids are out late at night, I watched TV on the couch until I fell into a fitful sleep.  At 3:30 AM, the cats all bounded to the door, because, since our cats are really more like dogs than cats, they run to the door every time someone pulls into the drive.   Skippy skipped  (hence the nickname) into the house, gleeful at his fun day in the big city.

Parents, which of us is ever in a mood to be amused at 3:30 in the morning?  Right.

I said, "I'm glad you're home safely. Did you have fun?"  Normally a question like this would illicit a one note grunt, but not at 3:30 AM.  No, at 3:30 AM he wants to TALK...better yet, he wants to SHOW ME HIS ART PROJECTS.

Adorable...but at 3:30 AM...really?
What? 

I sent you to Chicago, to hang out with college girls, and you come back with ART PROJECTS?

"Mom, I made a boat!  I made a boat and rocket ship!"

You know, parents, how we are always wishing our darling babies could just stay innocent and enthused about life?  Before they got iPods and girlfriends, and concert tickets to see bands made up of young folks who need a sandwich and a hug? 

Well, at 3:30 AM, I had that.

We talked for about fifteen minutes about his day, the artwork he did, what he and his friends had for lunch.  We talked about all the stuff we used to talk about but haven't lately.  We talked about nothing, and everything.  For fifteen minutes in the middle of the night, I was not the enemy.

Was I tired the next morning?  OH YEAH.  I hit the coffee and the 5 hour energy really hard.  But would I do it again?

This is Skippy's senior picture.
Those of you who are parents know the answer to that. 

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