Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

A valuable lesson October 12, 2012

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laptopOne of the men-children learned a valuable lesson the other day about the working world and the importance of commitment.  I hope it is a lesson he will remember for a lifetime.  As luck (along with his Mother’s  persistence) would have it, he was able to spend a couple of days in my office over the school holidays helping out with filing and various other tasks, and earning some longed for income to support his entertainment needs and shopping habits.  Less lucky for him was the fact that the two days were right at the tail end of his holidays, which is when he least preferred the work – but hey, beggars can’t be choosers can they?

So it transpired that on day two, as I was on my way to an early appointment before work, I received a text message from said man-child informing me that he was suffering a head cold, sore throat, and general tiredness and did he really need to work that day?  I am serious!!!  Oh and he had been out the night before too.  I yelled upstairs on my way out the door that he should be ready in 30 mins to go to work.  The text messages continued unabated during my appointment, and I arrived home to find him still in bed, and openly admitting that he didn’t want to go to work because it was the last day of the holidays.  One word people – TOUGH!!

The next 15 mins were a battle of wills and wits.  Him insisting he wasn’t going anywhere, and me arguing the opposite.  Quite apart from the fact that it was MY employee that he was going to stand up, it was the underlying principle associated with believing you could just decide not to turn up if you didn’t want to that had Father of a Man-Child and me up in arms and fuming. In the end an outright threat was what got him over the line.  And I quote:  “If you don’t come to my office today, not only will you not get paid for yesterday’s work, but you will never work for my company again, and we will not give you another cent of pocket-money between now and Christmas!”  From the expletives that followed and the sounds of stuff being thrown around his room I was pretty sure I had him cornered.  So down he stomped and off to work we went!!!

Naturally I delivered him a lecture during the trip (nothing like a captive audience in the car) about the importance of commitment in life, in sport, in jobs, etc.   I asked him if he would leave seven of his rowing crew in the boat waiting for him – of course not.  I said if it was a permanent job at Coles or Woolies, you wouldn’t ring up at the last-minute and say you had a party to attend so sorry, can’t come in on Friday night, unless of course you wanted the sack.  And I said it was doubly worse that I had gone out on a limb to get him work, and this was the thanks he gave to me, my boss, and my employer!!!  Thankfully by the time we arrived at the office my anger had subsided and I was able to breathe.

On the way home that night, I asked if he had learned anything that day (actually referring to some newly acquired Photoshop skills) and he mentioned the importance of commitment and going to work when you say you will.  Silent fist pump!  Therein ending another life lesson for one man-child, and another chapter of stress and torment for Mother of a Man-Child.

Anyone else got any good stories of not giving in to the demands of their children or insisting they do the right thing?  Whether it’s a toddler or a teenager, it’s damn hard work I tell you.

Read about their first taste of work experience, and the lessons they learned earlier this year:  Gaining life experience from work experience

 

 

Get a Job Men-Children! October 21, 2011

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piggy bankEnough – the ATM is tired of handing out money!  Do you ever get the feeling you’re feeding a beast with an insatiable appetite?  Weekly pocket-money, plus extra on school holidays, and regular concert tickets, and clothes and shoes….the requests are never-ending.  And you can imagine how much they do to earn the pocket-money can’t you?

Now I know when they’re young your children need you to support them and provide for them, but as the men-children keep reminding me, they are ALMOST 16.  Time surely to get a job and start funding some of their own entertainment?

To be fair, one of the men-children has made some effort to apply for jobs.  The other, only under extreme sufferance, and from memory that would be ONE application only.  Now I don’t know whether it’s harder to get work as a teenager these days, but I had my first job at 14 and didn’t look back.  It was at the French Bakehouse with one of my best friends Lou, walking distance from home.  The best part of the job was all the almond and chocolate croissants and cheese twists we got to eat and the crunchy baguettes we got to take home at the end of our shifts.

Once I got the taste of having my own money I couldn’t earn it and spend it fast enough.  Actually, one of the men-children is just like me – the moolah positively burns a hole in his wallet if he doesn’t spend it in record time.  The other man-child is actually more like my twin sister – a non-spender and therefore good saver.

Either way, the independence and responsibility that comes with holding down a job is an invaluable lesson for teens in my view.  I know they’re busy with sport – in fact right at the moment it’s quite ridiculous how busy they are with extra sporting commitments due to pre-season training for rugby and footy, on top of rowing; but now’s the time to have a foot in the door with a casual job so they can be employed over summer and earn some holiday money.  Of course one side effect of having a job might be a little dent in the social life too – and that can’t hurt can it?

So how old were you when you got your first job?  Was it as good as the French Bakehouse?

Please note any prospective employers should feel free to contact me.  The men-children are good-looking and have developing muscles so manual labour is definitely an option. 🙂

 

Mother of a Man-Child: Mother’s Day Musings May 13, 2011

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mothers dayMother’s Day has been and gone for another year.  Unfortunately both my hubby and me are without our mothers now, something you can’t help but recall with sadness on this day.  Fortunately however, being a mother means I also get to be the centre of the day’s events at home (well almost).

For the Men-Children, Mothers Day is clearly an event to be missed.  Both of them made plans to go out on Saturday night, and to stay over at a mates, until both Mother of a Man-Child and Father of a Man-Child pointed out that since it was Mother’s Day on Sunday, it would be nice for them to be at home.  Moreover which other Mother wants to wake up to my men-children on Mother’s Day I ask you?

My daughter on the other hand had been living in anticipation of Mother’s Day for an entire week.  Of course there’s the special presents to make at school, and the cards to craft.  Not to mention the breakfast-in-bed planning to do with Dad.  Oh, and an acrostic poem to write.  My daughter was one of a select few to have her effort published in the school newsletter for everyone to read.  I’ve included it below for your amusement – I just love the bit about me getting angry!!!

Kind and loving she is caring and careful. I love my Mum.

Every day she says good night, she cooks us dinner and she helps the family with so much stuff.

Lots of things my mum does. She lets me have friends over, she plays games with me.  My mum is SUPER!

Little times, big times, hard times, easy times. I don’t care if mum gets angry at me.  I will still always love her.

You know my mum is the Best in the whole WORLD!

Such was my daughter’s excitement that she couldn’t actually wait until Sunday to give me one of my presents.  So I got the homemade heart-shaped lavender soap as an early present on Saturday, which took pride of place in the bathroom.  It’s quite “rustic” but seems to do the job.  🙂

In keeping with the boys’ level of engagement around all things Mother’s Day, I actually bought my own Mother’s Day card and asked them to write in it.  Is that sad or what?  Thankfully Sister of a Man-Child wasn’t satisfied until they had each written in it.  And to be honest, what they each wrote warmed the cockles of my heart.

On Sunday I did get breakfast in bed along with Sister of a Man-Child naturally, and a kiss and hug from Man-Child I.  Man-Child II went the hug but resisted the kiss.  Clearly at 15 that just grosses him out I gather?  Oh well, small steps.  Somehow I then ended up going to see a kid’s movie with my daughter (I did point out the irony of this to her on Mother’s Day) and then we watched the men-children play footy.  All in all an enjoyable day.

When I asked the boys where my present was from them their instant retort was “But you don’t give us enough pocket-money”!!  My response: “Gee boys, I’m sure you could have guilted Dad into giving you money to buy a present for me.  And apart from that, you could always have offered to cook dinner for me!”

In the words of my daughter “It really is kids day every day Mummy isn’t it?”

 

Mother of a Man-Child: Tough Love – does it work? April 8, 2011

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heartI am a firm believer in Tough Love.  As defined by Wikipedia, “tough love” is an expression used when someone treats another person harshly or sternly with the intent to help them in the long run.   Of course tough love is infinitely more palatable when sprinkled with doses of good old-fashioned TLC.  A good mix is probably the ideal.

On reflection I would say I was brought up with a mixture of both.  I certainly have wonderfully happy memories of my childhood, but I also recall being brought up by pretty strict disciplinarians, and tough love when required.  It was a case of “you do the crime you pay the time” in our household and if you stuffed up then there were always serious consequences – pretty devastating ones when you’re a teenager and your social life is curtailed!!

The other day Man-Child II left his lunch at home.  We knew that because we found it sitting on the bench, and shortly afterwards he sent me a text message: “I forgot my lunch” (NO, really?).   Father of a Man-Child, being far more sympathetic and kinder than Mother of a Man-Child, instantly offered to take it to school for him.  “Absolutely NOT” I replied, he can go without.  And then I proceeded to text back man-child “Tough shit.  Buy your own or go hungry.”

On a roll, I added a few more messages about the mess left upstairs, no pocket-money being paid, etc as my usual frustrations set in.  Just what you need to start the morning off isn’t it?  Now before you think I am a very mean Mother, the reason he forgot his lunch is that he turned on the TV whilst waiting for his school shorts to dry (yep, I admit due to a rare backlog of washing) rather than packing his bag, making his bed, picking up a bathmat and towel off the floor etc.  So then in the ensuing rush to get out the door, he forgets lunch.

I think Tough Love teaches him that we won’t come running after a 15-year-old every time he forgets something, and hopefully he’ll be sure to remember it next time.  In the same way telling me 5 minutes before the first footy match of the season that his footy socks don’t fit drew very little sympathy.  I said “Oh well, we can’t buy them now.  You’ll just have to wear those and buy some new ones next week”.  Emphasis clearly on him, not me, to organize it.  If he can’t manage to get there after school one day, then bad luck I say.

And tough love extends past home on occasion.  Man-Child II also refused point-blank to wear white footy shorts last week for the “away” game.  No amount of insistence by me would convince him why he should, nor reasoning about rules, regulations, respect for team mates, the club etc.  And so he didn’t and he got away with it.  Apparently he never has worn them (no idea why).  Well tough love is telling his footy coach that next time he decides to flaunt the rules, he doesn’t go on the ground.  He doesn’t play by the rules, he doesn’t play period!

To be fair to Man-Child II, I’ve let him know that we’ve asked his coach to enforce this.  And when he came home from school on the day he forgot lunch, I did say I was sorry about being so angry, but did he understand that I was annoyed because he was disorganized yet again.  That’s when he admitted to turning on the TV.

So there you have it.  Tough Love.  I’m sure people who know me won’t be surprised that I endorse it.  It’s not always easy to do, but I’m convinced it’s worthwhile.  And hopefully deep down our men-children understand our motivation, if not now, then one day in the future.

Do you think I’m too tough?  Or not tough enough?  I promise I can take a stern talking to. 🙂

 

Mother of a Man-Child: Masterchefs in the Making? March 11, 2011

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As promised (or threatened depending on your point of view) I have been endeavouring to teach the men-children the art of cooking.  Not your high-end Masterchef type of cooking, but some simple dishes that will equip them with basic skills to survive in the kitchen, and that might even mean on a busy night we could call on the boys to help with preparing dinner.

A month back they had basically one meal in their repertoire – bacon and eggs.  No surprise when you’re a teenage boy.  Oh and two-minute noodles, if you count that as a “cooked meal”!  They’re adept at making a hearty (or heart-stopping?) meal of fried eggs and bacon coupled with toast and lashings of that great Australian tradition – tomato sauce.  Sadly they’re also adept at leaving the splattered remains all over the stove and the dirty frypan on the bench for Mother of a Man-Child to clean up.

So we began our own “Masterchef challenge”.  Each week I have been trying to teach them a new meal to make.  So week one was Mexican – pretty easy these days with the availability of kits, at least it has some salad greens in it, but go easy on the packet seasoning boys!

Week two was a curry.  Again made easy with great curry pastes these days, and pick virtually any meat and vegetable combo and you’ve got yourself a hearty meal.  And week three was a tuna pasta – again, nothing fancy, but a good carb-based meal for budding sports stars that can be put together readily with standard pantry items.

I’ve decided to tackle it one man-child at a time, one meal at a time.  It’s too hard to have both of them trying to make a meal with me in the kitchen – as they say “too many cooks…..”.

And the results:  so far we’ve had no food poisoning, and the meals have tasted just like the ones I make – since I’ve been standing over them, I guess that’s no surprise is it?  And the boys have actually embraced the idea – I think they realise it’s not a bad skill to have, and of course mentioning that it might also impress a girl goes a long way too.

Now the challenge is to make them realise that cleaning up after you cook is actually part of the job, especially Man-Child II, who seems to spill as much onto the stove as into the pot when he cooks!!!  Thankfully the need to earn pocket-money generally means we can convince them to also do the cleaning up, albeit reluctantly.

As we go along, we will no doubt move to more sophisticated meals.  But before you think I’m aspiring to grandiose things, I mean sophisticated for a 15-year-old, not a 30-year-old.  By the way, the men-children just turned FIFTEEN.  I for one cannot believe that I am the mother of two 15-year-old boys.  I had lunch recently with an ex colleague who asked about the boys, and when I told him how old they were, he kept repeating “fifteen, fifteen” with such incredulity I knew exactly how he felt!!

So Happy Birthday to my Men-Children, and happy cooking too!  Of course, recipe suggestions from my blog readers are welcome at any time.  🙂

 

 

Mother of a Man-Child: Pocket Money – Blackmail works! February 18, 2011

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You would recall a few weeks back we decided to try a new approach to pocket-money with the men-children.  Rather than giving them money automatically each week, we moved to a user pays model, whereby they have to ASK for money for a set event, and in return do set jobs to actually EARN the money.  Well readers I am delighted to tell you it worked!!!!

Both of the men-children wanted money the other weekend, so tasks were set.  Apart from insisting their bedrooms were tidied, and various dirty dishes were collected from numerous points about the house, both were given jobs.  Naturally their individual responses and approaches to the tasks were chalk and cheese, just like them.

Man-Child I was asked to hang out a load of washing after cleaning up his bedroom.  He accepted the request without fuss, completed it promptly, finished his room, got his money and left.  Job done, no fuss.

Man-Child II on the other hand complained from the minute the requests started.  I decided since I had the upper hand in the situation that no stone would be left unturned.  Every inch of his room was finally cleaned, and his doona cover was finally put on his doona after three weeks of pleading.   Every wayward glass and plate finally found it’s way to the dishwasher.  And the newly purchased school shorts were not left on the floor in a crumpled heap but folded and put in the cupboard.  Such was the effort to get him to complete the most basic jobs he avoided any extra tasks – I honestly couldn’t bear it any longer.  But he finally got paid, and I finally got a clean bedroom.

Interestingly Man-Child I later asked exactly what his brother had done to earn his money beyond tidying his room, and I muttered something about quite a lot (it’s all relative isn’t it?).

The point is, when they want/need money to fund their weekend entertainment, you’ve got them right where you want them.  I am looking forward to clean bedrooms and a little extra help around the house in the future.  It’s amazing how nice it is when you don’t have to hang out every load of washing yourself.

I got so excited about their new-found abilities, that we’ve also decided it’s time for the men-children to learn to cook, and to prepare a meal for the family once a week.  Helping them gain a life skill, and helping Mother of a Man-Child and Father of a Man-Child have one less night at the stove after a day in the office.  I’m sure there’ll be plenty of tales about their culinary skills (or lack thereof) to follow!

 

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/