Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Teenager and the Critical Mom

Probably there is no comedy like the comedy of simultaneous puberty and menopause.  And no tragedy like it either.  I forget which English lord remarked that life is a comedy for those who think and a tragedy for those who feel.  Let's think, now:  Did I actually tell the fourteen-year-old that I'd wake him up early?  But no, I just told him he had to go to bed on time and then he said, "Mommy!  I don't have first hour in school tomorrow, so I don't need to go to bed on time."  And I went to militaristic default:  "Get upstairs now."
"But why do I have to go to bed now?"  
Well, because until a moment ago, he had been lying on the couch starting to snore in front of the two minutes of news he claimed he had to watch.  But you can bet your bottom dollar I won't be mentioning that to him.
I figure I'm ahead:  It is nearly ten p.m., and I know where my kid is.
"Upstairs, now!"
"But other people in my class go to bed much later and I don't have first hour tomorrow."
"It's not my bedtime."
"I'm going to count to five, and if, at that point, you are not upstairs, I am going to unplug and remove your computer."
Yawn. Yawn. Yawn.
I didn't unplug the computer because I was so tired myself that I forgot.  He did take longer than five counts to get upstairs.  He did get upstairs.
In the morning, as I was waking his brother and sister, I remembered the times I'd waked him when I'd forgotten that his first school hour was cancelled, and I patted myself on the back for remembering that he had no first hour today and could therefore sleep late.
I woke him at seven instead of at six.
"Good morning!  It's seven."
"WHAT?  Why didn't you wake me?!! GOD DAMN IT!"
"You said you had no first hour."
"But you made me go to bed early."
"Well, you seem to have needed your sleep."
Audible slap on forehead.  How dumb can Mommy be?  Loud complaints all the way downstairs.  Loud complaints at breakfast.  Until his peace-making Dad says, "For goodness sakes, Mommy and I are dying for more sleep.  Aren't you lucky you got to sleep?"
By the time he had to leave, he had forgiven me, and was telling me all about the parallel universes in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I am glad that he likes to read books.  When I get on the tram, I am usually the only person there with a book in hand, except once in a while there's a student reading a textbook, or a child reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Everyone else is putzing around with their cell phones.  But he carries his book and reads it on the tram.  We done good!  The kid turned out all right, even if he does hate us about fifty percent of the time.


  1. Love this! Should be an op-ed on teenagers. Aren't there some English-language publications in Germany?

  2. Oh, somewhere . . .Critical Mom must go see!!