I have found communicating with one’s offspring to be daunting at times.
When they’re small children, conversation can be simple: “Gotta go pee-pee?” or “Time for nap” or “No, don’t put the fork in the socket, honey.” Simple supervisory skills.
As they get older, and if they’re still not as smart as you, you can figure out how things are. But it does require knowing your children and what their proclivities are. But then they hit pre-teen, and with technology the way it is, you’re gonna fall behind. I did Twitter, but just got depressed; I am on Instagram, but the kids aren’t really there anymore. It’s all about Snapchat, and I’m not going there. So, they have this Snapchat world that you kinda have to watch from a distance.
Then there are the full-blown teenagers, the attitude has come, the manners have gone, and any motivation or inclination to do minor work has vanished. Communication becomes very difficult. I have one teen with whom I can have normal conversations. Hopefully that will not change. I have one who must have mentally muted my voice, and I have one with whom I can start WWIII with that hate-filled word, “Hello.” Texting is the go-to form of communication for my teens. However, how my texts are perceived by them is a mystery to me, even after 30 years of child rearing. For example:
Sample Mom Text: What time will you be home?
In the English language, this kind of sentence is called an interrogative sentence, a question, if you will. Typically, these kinds of sentences elicit a response, and furthermore, in our sample text, a response dealing with time. This text, in its basic and unfettered form, would seem innocuous; however, in the mind of a teen, our sample text can range from annoying to downright hostile. Also, this sample text has elicited declarations of independence from said teens who are over 18. You know where I’m going.
Lately, I’ve been spending two nights a week at my mom’s “mom-sitting” while my dad’s been in rehab…no, not that kind of rehab. One of those nights is a Sunday night, and consequently, my two school-aged daughters must get up, get ready and be prepared for pick up around 7:30 without my gentle nudging.
This particular Monday morning, I sent out some preemptive texts at 6:55. I sent this harmless text: “Awake?” Interrogative, yes, so I get one response, not good, both should be awake by now. Ten minutes later, I send this declarative text: “Be ready in 20 minutes.” Same respondee, text one, “Whooooa?” Text two, “We’re not ready.”
As I wait for mom’s caregiver, I send another text, testing the waters of readiness, 7:27 a.m. — “Ready?” Faithful respondee, “No, E in shower” My calm response: “Whaaaaat!!!” E must think that “Be ready in 20 minutes” means “I have ten more minutes before my shower.” I have to drop off two teens at two different locations in two separate cities, and get to work by 8. The Plight of the Hare. Ain’t gonna happen this morning. Que sera, sera! We’ll all be late today.
I finally get over to pick them up. I futilely text, “here” and wait. We get on our way at 7:49. Faithful respondee needs to be at school by 8:05 and her silent (mentally mute) sister needs to be there by 8:12. I’ve been using my son’s manual transmission Toyota, so today necessitated me to fall into Mario Andretti mode. I bobbed and weaved, shifted and downshifted through residential streets to deposit Thing 2 by 8:00 and managed to fly up Sharp Park, make the lights on Westborough and get Thing 1 dropped off a little late. Meanwhile, I get to work late. There goes my break.
Since I have an advanced degree in teen times, I didn’t stress out. I chock it up to experience, and determine the next Monday morning to send out preemptive texts earlier. I tell my older daughters who have young children to enjoy the baby years since time flies by so fast. Folks, these teen times, too, will pass, so my advice is to fasten your seat belt and enjoy the bumpy ride.
— Donna Fentanes
Blogger Donna Fentanes is a mother of 10 kids living in Pacifica. She mixes humor and philosophical musings with everyday life.