Welcome, Mamma Crew! Today is Kiddos Tuesdays when I discuss issues related to the kids.
I don’t know about you but I had a pretty easy time with my kids after they turned 18 months old. Yes, they still didn’t let me sleep through the night, but they didn’t seem all that challenging.
In general, they were happy, well-adjusted kids. And even when we began dealing with issues related to Andy’s ADHD, or Emmy went through a mean girl phase, they were relatively young, and it was easy to communicate with them, and it was easy to get them to listen. And then when they turned nine and a half, things began to change.
Now at that time, I didn’t realize that nine is considered to be the beginning of the pre-teen years — I always thought it was ten. Surprise! It’s not. Okay, so nine. It makes sense that they started to make some changes. And with that have come a whole host of challenges, primarily in communication.
Now, one of the biggest challenges comes from a simple, everyday thing. I bet you don’t think about it. I certainly don’t think about it. I call my kids. I call them to homeschool because we’re homeschoolers. I call them to get ready. I call them to go dancing; I invite them to come to breakfast, to lunch, dinner, and so forth. I call them. And the answer used to be “Yes, Mom.” Now the answer has become “Yes.” And I call “yes” THE NON-RESPONSE.
Here’s an example of what I mean: So we’re getting ready to go out, And I asked from downstairs. Mind you, and I’m not going back up the stairs because well, I just had knee surgery. And I called, and I say, “Girls, Are you ready?”
Now you would think that that means something, right? IT DOESN’T! It means absolutely nothing! It doesn’t mean that they’re ready. It doesn’t mean that they’re coming downstairs. It’s just something they say! And they say it regularly! It frustrates the hell out of me!
Are you done with your homework? Yes. Okay, can I see it? Well, I’m done with the reading part, but I haven’t made the Cornell notes. Are you ready to go? Yes. Why aren’t you downstairs? Well, because I’m getting my electronics together. Or, I’m getting my backpack together.
And I’m sitting there thinking, “Are you kidding me?!? So what does ‘yes’ actually mean?!? Does it mean that you’re just responding in the hope that I go away, or are you trying to make me happy? What is the purpose of this, yes?!?
I call it THE YES NON-RESPONSE. Because it doesn’t mean anything, it doesn’t bring about an action, and it certainly doesn’t confirm that an act has been committed. So it doesn’t mean anything. Okay, I wouldn’t be happy with silence either, but this ‘yes’ is very frustrating. So I talked to the girls about it, and I said, “Listen, this is bugging me. Can you please stop and simply follow through with whatever it is that you’ve been asked to do? ‘Cause you’ve certainly been given enough warning that something was happening.”
30 minutes later:
“Girls, come down to dinner!”
10 minutes pass. 15 minutes pass. 20 minutes pass.
Yes, “we’re coming” doesn’t mean anything, either. It’s kinda like ‘yes.’ Maybe. Sometime. In the future — they’re going to come. But not immediately, of course. Argh! So after trying many different ways of handling this — because well, I need things to move along, I need to get things done, I got tired of THE YES NON-RESPONSE. The ‘yes’ means absolutely nothing. The ‘yes’ that causes me to ask questions. Causes me to go up the stairs again or down the stairs chasing after them. The ‘yes’ that ends up with me completely frustrated, ready to lose my temper! And I hate losing my temper.
So I figured, turn around with their play and now, I call “Girls!” And I say nothing else. Of course, the follow-up is, “Yes!” But now the ‘yes’ — it’s not a ‘Yes, I’m coming,’ It’s a ‘Yes, what do you need, Mom? And I don’t respond. I don’t. Because if I don’t answer, they come to me. And then I ask the follow-up question: Are you ready for bed?
Of course, they’re frustrated because now they have to go someplace to respond to this question. But frankly, at that point, I can see that they’re either halfway through getting ready, they’re not even close. They haven’t started, and I need to follow up. I don’t ask, “Are you ready?” anymore, either. I just call once again, “Girls!”
And now I ‘ve started to threaten something that I never thought I would do, which is, “If you’re not ready I’m not going to take you,” it’s become, “If you’re not ready, I’m going to take you as you are!” Are you in your pajamas? You’re going. Is your hair not brushed? You’re going! Whatever the case might be, you’re leaving!
When we were in Florida this summer, one of the things I kept telling them was, “You need to do your laundry.” Okay, now mind you, they only do this during summers or the holidays. And their response was, “Yep; we got this.”
“Do you need to wash your clothes?”
“No, I’m fine.”
Of course, that was the day when we were supposed to go to the orthodontist. It was a 10:30 appointment — it was 9:30, and it is about an hour away in traffic. And I said, “Okay. Let’s go!”
And there’s Andy, standing in front of me saying, “Well, Mom, I don’t have any shorts. All my shorts are dirty. I don’t have anything to wear.”
“Aww… That’s so sad. I guess you’re going to have to wear your pajamas to the orthodontist.”
“Yes, I agree! But Andy, you should have been ready! You should have gotten yourself together.”
‘Should’ seems to become attached to every other word that I say. And that’s so frustrating! So frustrating! Now I understand that this is very common at this age — the beginning of the teen years. And I get that. I do try to be understanding. But my goodness! When I ask them to hurry up, and they seem to slow down, I swear there are days when I just want to shoot myself in the head! It’s like, “Are you getting me?!? Really?!? Come on! How much slower can you possibly move?!?” And just when I think it can’t move any slower, it’s almost like they’re going backward in time. Drives me crazy!
So, we cycle in and out of THE YES NON-RESPONSE. Just when I think I finally trained them out of it, they relapse. They relapse! It’s like this horrible disease! It keeps coming back!
Just last night: “Girls! Is your homework done?”
“Okay. Good! That means we can move on to the next lesson tomorrow, right? Easy-peasy!”
Uhh, except that when I say, “Okay, did you finish this lesson? That lesson?”
What does “ohhh…” mean?!? I can tell you what it means — I’ve learned the hard way what it means! it means… “NO! I don’t remember!” Or, better yet, “I’m going to claim that I don’t remember, and it’s possibly true because hormones are driving me nuts!” It’s like, argh!
So, we’re back into another sample of the dreaded ‘yes.’ Once again, ‘yes.’ Yes used to be such a lovely word. How could they manage to corrupt it? But they did. They did. It just makes me so sad. So we are into another cycle of MY NON-RESPONSE! Which is, yet again, I go from asking the questions, and not asking the questions, expecting them to come to me and explain themselves. Except that now, I’m getting used to it, I have to admit it. I’m getting a little bit used to it, and I know that we’re going to cycle in and out of these periods. At least for now. I’m sure just as I make myself comfortable and think that I have It figured out, they’ll do another switcheroo and they’ll grow up on me. Because yes, unbelievably, they only have five more months as pre-teens — technically four and a half, but I’m going to round it up to five.
Before long, they’re going to be thirteen — all three of them. Can you imagine three teenage girls precisely the same age going through the same things at the same time? I don’t know how I’m going to survive! Except that I know when it’s over, when they’re in college, I’m going to miss them so much. I just hope that when I text them then and say, “Hi honey, how’s your day going?” the answer is not ‘Yes!’ I hope they at least take the time to say, “I’m doing good mom!” I hope.
Well, that was my short rant for the day. It’s been kind of crazy around here!