Single Mom Slice of Life:
When Your Kid Teaches You About Yourself…
And You Don’t Like It!
Imagine if you will, a tired mom… we’ll call her… me. Okay so, up at 5 a.m., drop kid off to school at 6:30, work from 7 until 5, drive 30 minutes home, pull up in the driveway… only to find Justin waiting for me in the driveway. Ignore the fact that this takes place on a Monday… you know… one whole day AFTER the weekend. He forgot (while playing video games, sleeping over at friends’ houses, etc.) that he needed new shoes.
Fine – no problem – let’s go shoe shopping. Who doesn’t love shoe shopping? Could it wait? Sure, but he wanted them right then, so right then we went.
Three shoe stores later he tells me about his new school schedule. Not all of it is new, just the last three classes, but it’s enough to switch his lunches, take him away from his friends, and so on, and so forth, and other such high school freshman drama. Basic, boring, run of the mill mom and son time.
Three guesses as to why, mere moments later, I completely lost my stuffing. We’re talking pulling the car over, turning in my seat, and raising my voice. It wasn’t over grades, chores, or friend choices. Ok, stop guessing. It was over orange chicken.
Wait – don’t judge me! You don’t know the full story yet.
See, this is what happened. When his schedule got changed, Justin had to move from first lunch to second lunch. There are more people in second lunch than first lunch. So when he went to get his lunch, the lines were all long. But he really wanted orange chicken, so he braved the long line. When he finally reached the front, the lunch lady handed him a plate of chicken nuggets and mashed potatoes… WHICH HE TOOK!
Ugh. Maybe you don’t understand. Justin has this issue… it’s not a bad thing, but he tends to be a bit of a… well… people pleaser. So, when asked a question, his guaranteed response is always either, “I don’t care”, “it doesn’t matter”, or “whatever works.” For years I have been trying to get this kid to have an opinion, to make sure he voices his preferences so that he is not overlooked, or taken for granted. My biggest fear (okay, one of them) is that he will get a reputation for not having an opinion, and will grow into a life where his wants/preferences/likes are discounted because, “Eh, he doesn’t care.”
I asked him why he didn’t ask for the orange chicken? Why did he just willingly accept something that was NOT what he had waited in line for? Geez, why can’t he just stand up for himself and admit that he wants something and then get it? Where did he learn that it’s not ok to look out for himself?
What he said next stunned me.
1. “Mom, aren’t you always telling people to not worry about you, and to do whatever is easiest for them?”
2. “Some other kid found a hair in his orange chicken so – gross, and the mashed potatoes were actually pretty good. I think it might be my new favorite.”
Um. Holy crap. In the world of parenting, that’s the end-all be-all double burn of do as I say not as I do type lessons… teenager style. Well, the good news is that apparently, my kids DO listen to me. The bad news is, my kids DO listen to me.
With my tail tucked firmly between my legs, and my ears steaming from the frustration of not having a suitable comeback, we got the shoes, picked up dinner to go, and headed home. What can I say? Apparently, not every parenting experience is one where the parent comes out ahead.
What about you? Have there been experiences where your kids have proven (splendidly) that you set the example that they follow? Did it make you more aware of your actions? Have they changed because of it?