Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Mother of a Man-Child: Suspicious Minds? April 29, 2011

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beersOkay, so here’s the thing.  I seem to have an in-built bullshit radar that is on high alert these days.  Which means my poor men-children get away with very little.  I have taken the suspicious parent to new levels, with good reason it would seem, as the history of this blog shows.  But assuming my radar isn’t fool proof, they must be getting away with something, sometimes (just like their mother did in her day).

My learned and wise uncle once commented that sometimes it pays to turn a blind eye – and just not notice everything.  In other words, cut them some slack and just let stuff slide.  I have to admit I find that incredibly difficult to do.

Case in point over the Easter break.  We seemed to spend the entire school holidays cajoling and encouraging the boys to get out of the house.  Go to the movies, have a Pizza & Poker night, go bike-riding etc.  Any alternative is better than sitting on the computer or play station all day every day, indoors, not expending any energy.  Sure, I’m all for them having a rest, but teenage boys can take “resting” to a new level if you let them.

As the holidays drew to a close, even I was surprised to find Man-Child I sitting around at home on the second last day of the holidays, especially being one of the most glorious autumnal days Melbourne can muster.  I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t making the most of his last days of freedom but he constantly evaded all my questions.  Hmmm.  Until of course he sat down at dinner and casually mentioned a small gathering at his best mates house that he’d like to attend that evening!  Instantly explaining staying home all day in order to increase the chance of being allowed out at night.

So we asked for some information (the Spanish inquisition has nothing on me)!  When was this arranged? It’s very last-minute.  Are his parents home?  Do they know about it?  They just got back from holidays.  What time will you be home?  DON’T text us at 10.30 to ask to stay the night as you always do!  How are you getting there and who with?  My gut said whilst it’s all designed to feel like a casual, last-minute get together (nothing to worry about right), that wasn’t the case at all.  And you know what – my gut was right.

So I casually offered to drive my son to his mates!  Ah, really, but I was going to meet so and so….No probs.  Happy to give him a lift too!  (Gotcha).  And he assured me he’d get a lift home with a friend.  Really?  Last time you said that I didn’t hear a car pull up.  No parent would drop you up the road at midnight, they’d bring you to the door, which means you’re catching the tram home late at night, when I’d rather you didn’t (yes I know I sound like a paranoid mother, but I don’t trust the bogan element on the streets late at night – even in our leafy suburb I know boys who have had their front teeth knocked out in an unprovoked attack).

So do you know what happened?  My husband wisely offered to give him a lift (sometimes Dads just need to step in).  Turns out the reason he was meeting his friend on the way was to buy beers via some contact they have – I KNEW it.  Then he gets to the mate’s place.  Turns out the father of the mate didn’t really know about the party until it was too late to pull the pin – not impressed.  I KNEW it.  Oh and guess who rang Father of a Man-Child’s mobile at 10.30pm to ask if he could stay the night?  I KNEW it.

So do I have an uncanny ability to detect when something is going down?  Yes, it would appear so.  Do I need to learn to let stuff slide, just a little bit, just occasionally?  Yes, probably.  Should I stop worrying and just see what happens?  Gulp, don’t answer that – I’m just not sure I can ignore all my motherly/parental instincts just yet.  They might look like men, but they’re only 15 years old!

As my friends with older kids say to me – God help you when they get their license and take the car out – then you’ll know what real worry is.  So I better start up a new business before then – “Taxis for Teens” – fully funded by sponsors, free to kids and parents.  E.g. they can have a free taxi trip if they go via the Maccas drive-in on the way.  There, that should keep them off the roads for a while longer. 🙂

 

Mother of a Man-Child: Liar, Liar Pants on Fire April 15, 2011

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Maybe it was the fact that I’d caught Man-Child II wagging at home on said day, that my lie detector radar was more finely tuned than normal.  Either that, or just having two 15-year-old men-children has enhanced my skills in this area.  That and having been a 15-year-old myself of course (a fact most adolescents can’t actually believe about their parents).

So after Man-Child II had eventually made it to school for the last day of term (following countless threats from Mother of a Man-Child), he and a few mates planned to go out.  He casually saunters in to mention that he’s staying at his “girlfriends” house (I use inverted commas because I call her that but he might only say she’s a close friend).  I instantly suggest he re-phrase the question and he responds:  “Okay, Mum is it alright if I stay at GF’s house tonight?”  Sorry to seem anal, but in my book 15 year olds still ask permission, they don’t just tell.

Now he had actually stayed there before with a large number of people, and I’d spoken to the mother to ensure everything was kosher.  So I said I guessed it was okay, but could I just have the mother’s number again to ensure it was fine.  “Sure, I’ll text it to you later” (meaning I’ll never bother to).  “No, GF is standing right here, please just give me the number for your mother.”

Following a swift glance between my son and GF (which I couldn’t help but notice and which made even more sense later), she tells me the number, but has to consult her mobile phone because it’s new apparently.  Okay, no problems.  So off they head to Maccas apparently on the way to GF’s house.

So I ring the mother on her mobile.  I’ve spoken to her before, but wouldn’t recognize her voice to be honest.  Pleasant chit-chat ensues…..”Hi it’s Man-Child II’s mother, just wanting to make sure it’s okay if he stays over etc….” Then I can’t help but say to her “Gee, you sound very young, in fact almost too young to be GF’s mother.  Obviously that’s a compliment I say” feeling like I’m treading where I shouldn’t go.  And then I have the conviction of my instincts and casually say “Look sorry, I’ll have to call you back, can you give me your home phone”.  And suddenly, I am met with silence on the end of the phone.  The deathly silence of someone who has been caught out – BINGO!!!

And the voice that now sounds even younger on the end of the phone says “I don’t know the number”.  “Oh really I say, so this isn’t GF’s mother is it?”.  “No”.  “Then who am I talking to?”  She tells me.  And so I say simply ”(name), next time your friend asks you to lie for her, and to lie to me, I’d strongly recommend you say No!  And obviously, you won’t be seeing Man-Child II at the party tonight!”

Father of a Man-Child is standing beside me laughing, in total awe of my detective skills.  He’s always known I don’t miss much (or really anything) but this is taking my expertise to new levels.

My next call is to Man-Child II, killing the romantic dinner at Maccas, cancelling the joy of the night to come, and telling him he has 15 minutes to get his lying arse home or there will be even more trouble.

Turns out he wasn’t planning on staying at the GF’s house, but somewhere else, and the parent wasn’t home until late, and since he knew I’d say no he came up with another story.  And so we had a discussion about trust, and telling the truth, and the need to try us out occasionally and just maybe we’d let him go.  And over time, eventually we’d let him go without asking any questions or calling any parents because we knew we could trust him.

I also said, here’s another way to look at it Man-Child II – next time, tell me both the lie and then the truth – you might find I prefer the truth and say yes !!  I realize this could backfire big time, but he got what I meant – honestly!! 🙂

 

Mother of a Man-Child: Pocket Money-A Different Approach? January 28, 2011

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coinsThe age-old questions about pocket-money have again raised their heads in our household.  How much should we pay our men-children?  What chores should they have to do on a daily/weekly basis to earn it?  How do we ensure they actually DO anything to help around the house?  Should we threaten no pocket-money at all to encourage them to get a job and partially fund themselves?

Our approach to date has been a weekly allowance, paid to them to spend as they see fit.  It’s not a lot I admit ($15 week) but in addition we’ve also pay $30 per month for their mobile phone usage (no ridiculous plans for us, pre-paid is fine for teenagers).  Not surprisingly the $15 is spent at Maccas, Grill’d, or various other food establishments – on reflection it wouldn’t go far would it?  You can spend $10 on lunch without even trying.  And then we pay for all “necessary” items, including clothes, haircuts, shoes etc.

I should add there are limits imposed here too – the other day Man-Child I wanted another haircut, since he likes it kept just at a certain length.  Having had one just 4 weeks earlier I said I was prepared to pay for haircuts on a regular basis, but that 4 weekly was a little too high maintenance for a teenage boy.

Our main issue is this – they currently do NOTHING to earn the $15.  Their bedrooms seem destined to remain like a tip site, the dishwasher remains full of clean dishes, the towels stay on the bathroom floor, the dirty dishes are left wherever they used them and the dirty clothes never make it to the laundry.  It’s even worse when they’re on holidays and have all day to attend to these trifling tasks and just don’t bother.  Yes I know it’s all perfectly normal teenage behaviour, but as Mother of a Man-Child and Father of a Man-Child both work full-time, a little help would be more than appreciated.

The other week Man-Child I was heading off for a holiday with a friend.  I asked him to ensure his room was left clean so I wouldn’t have to endure the sight of it for five days.  Sure, no problems.  I later discovered that this was achieved by moving every item that was in my sight line from the hallway to behind the door, thereby achieving my goal (clean room) and his (not to do it)!

Man-Child II is equally frustrating.  As you know in the midst of our renovations, Mother of a Man-Child is only just holding it together, being the neat freak that I am.  Now that the builders are working on a daily basis inside the house, instead of up in the roof, the dust, dirt and piles of building materials are slowly invading every spare inch of our home.   So I was literally BEGGING Man-Child II to clean up his room (I kid you not I was on the verge of tears and asking him to please just do it for my sanity) and he smugly replied “it’s simple really, if you don’t want to look at it, just close the door”.  I explained I also liked to see daylight in the house so he simply said he would clean his room “later”!  Of course that meant he would make a half-hearted attempt at 2am and that basically it wouldn’t be done.

BTW, we’re not just talking about wet towels and clean and dirty clothes on the floor, along with various other teenage flotsam and jetsam.  It also included the dirty frying pan and utensils that Man-Child II had used to make bacon and eggs, and then parked in the kitchen sink yet again for us to clean.  As is customary, Father of a Man-Child had parked the afore-mentioned frying pay in his bedroom, on his bed.  It had been on the floor for three days at this point.  Nice!

So our recent idea for pocket-money is to stop making the regular payments and move to an as-needs basis.  So when they ask for $20 to go to the movies, we can say “sure, no problems, but just before you get it you need to clean your room and empty the dishwasher”.  This way we get what we want, and they get what they want, and theoretically we should all end up satisfied.  What remains to be seen is whether or not we will end up much worse off financially via this approach?  But at least we will feel like we’re extracting some value for the money spent.  Oh and we’ll no doubt have to endure a man-child tantrum along with the request to do anything.

I’m sure they’ll find a way to manipulate the system to their advantage, but we figure it’s worth a try.  I know the other approach is to give them a large sum of money for the month/term and say there, everything comes out of that amount, but I don’t think our men-children are quite that disciplined as yet and I can see $300 disappearing in two weeks flat.

So that’s the idea readers.  Any thoughts or past experiences and words of wisdom welcome.  I know this is an age-old problem, so I’m sure there’s a good solution.  What do you do for your kids?  Or if you’re not at that point, what did your parents do for you?  If it’s a really good idea I might even pay you!  LOL.

To read my previous musings on this topic see the links below:

https://motherofamanchild.com/2010/06/04/mother-of-a-man-child-pocket-money-its-never-enough-is-it/

https://motherofamanchild.com/2010/09/03/mother-of-a-man-child-learning-the-value-of-a-dollar/

 

Mother of a Man-Child: Learning the value of a dollar! September 3, 2010

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Like any parent, I like to think we teach our Men-Children (that’s plural for Man-Child) lessons for life from time to time.   Naturally, some of those lessons relate to finances, and the desire to teach them the value of money, how to earn it, how to save it, and how to spend it wisely.

Until recently, our boys had to pay for their own credit on their mobile phones, in order to provide them some sense of value (and how quickly you can burn $ on one)!  Naturally, they did not often have credit, as they chose to spend their pocket-money on other things – namely food (the key to a teenagers heart).  I really should have shares in Maccas!  With the recent demise of their mobile phones, I decided it was time for us to partially fund their spend.

So we sat down and commenced negotiations.  What exactly would we fund, and what would they fund?  And what were the best deals to get?  Would we opt for a two-year contract, or stick with pre-paid?

What was interesting was to see the varied approaches by each Man-Child.  Man-Child I went straight for glamour – yes, it was all about the look of the phone for “Hollywood”.  If he could have an iPhone on the world’s worst plan he would – minor detail!  Man-Child II surprised me in being far more sensible, and had actually done some homework around good value deals online, even looking at call versus text costs – he knew all the hidden pitfalls of mobiles.  I was suitably impressed.

Of course common sense (namely their Mother) won.  I was adamant we stick with pre-paid, principally because boys are likely to lose/have stolen/break mobile phones.   They funded the handset cost out of their bank account savings (so they “invested” something) and we agreed to fund the monthly costs with a small contribution from them each month, so they share the ongoing burden (yep, get used to it guys).

For now we are persisting with re-charging every month – as painful as it is, it gives them a sense of the ongoing money drain that auto-payment doesn’t deliver when it’s Mum’s credit card.

Our next project is the world of part-time jobs – the boys will be able to apply for jobs by December, so that should be a very interesting exercise and learning experience for all of us.  Of course if any of my readers would like to offer a couple of likeable Men-Children employment at year-end, please let me know.  They come with glowing references.  LOL!