I am learning that one of the most valuable skills a person can have is the ability to take criticism. And how do we teach that to our children in a world saturated with lazy children and instant gratification? That criticism or even to be corrected (or heaven forbid, actually disciplined) isn’t the end of the world and is an attempt to improve, or adjust one’s behavior. If only I could be perfect like my teenager…….if only I could always be right and never doubt my resolve. If only I could be singularly selfish and only care about the ridiculous drama that only occurs in your teenage years. And it’s not like I am not painfully embarrassed by my own memories of severe injustice inflicted upon me by my own parents. The shame…..unfortunately, if we are lucky, it will be years before or oldest begins to taste the shame of the arrogant disrespect he has shown us.
Case in point: Our neighbor lady for whom I work asked for help weeding her flower beds last night. She said all the kids could come, it was a beautiful day. So when my oldest got home from school, I told him he had a choice-he could come with me or he could go to town with his dad, but he was NOT going to sit home by himself playing on the computer or watching tv. Of course, he adamantly denied that he would do either and said he had planned on doing his math homework (yeah, right–if only I thought all people beside myself were idiots, I too, could be as wise as my teenager). So the sullen attitude kicks in as he contemplates throwing himself from the vehicle as we drive to the neighbor’s. Once there I was surprised to see him get out of the vehicle. Oh, crap. I had assumed he would go to town so now I am stuck with for children AND a crabby teenager. If I had been smart (like my teenager) I would have video taped his lazy, rude behavior to show him exactly how he appears to other people. Our neighbor lives on a dairy farm so by comparison, her 16 year old son truly does know what work is–he awakens early every morning for chores and does chores every night, often many many chores in between. Things that must be done and cannot be neglected. That teenager is a man. By all accounts, mine is a ‘good kid’. But does he know what real resonsibility is? Accountability? No. While I weeded and the little kids ran around and tried to help, he begrudgingly did a few pitiful jobs and would plop back down in the patio chair, snap at the children, argue with my oldest daughter and make them fuss and cry. The confusion of what authority he thinks he has over them is infuriating. When he thinks he can supercede me, I want to put him over my knee and spank him like the bratty little child he is. But he is 6 foot and I am not sure I could pull that off anymore. It is embarassing, as he gets after the kids about something I said they could do and then chews me out in front of one of my peers. There is no self awareness, only injustice as his stupid mother doesn’t listen to him. What does she know about raising children, anyway? And to further add insult to injury, I took away his cell phone (text was taken away months ago for good reason) and told him he was not allowed to go to the movies as planned tonight because he continued to show disrespect this morning. If only I could feel as self rightous in my actions. Truly, I must be gifted with a child prodigy of infinite wisdom and rightousness. Oh, and if only I could be the perfect martyr, as he is. How unfair he has it. Lucky me, I get to see which son will come home from school this afternoon–will it be Dr. Jekyll, who will kiss my ass, tell me what a wonderful mommy I am and how much he loves me in hopes that I will change my mind and let him go to the movies? Or will it be the crabby, grouching, insufferable Mr. Hyde who will make it clear his life is but one miserable day after another and that he has been cursed with the drudgery of having to endure this ignorant, oblivious family to the gift that is him? Ah, if only I could be more like him, everything would be perfect.