Family, Parenting

When nothing else seems to work.


frustratedBefore I had any kids people would warn me about the terrible twos. It’s supposed to be the age when everything they say and do is done with the intention to drive you up the wall. It’s true, the terrible twos are terrible, but what about the terrible teenage years?

I’m a father of four kids, three of them being teenagers. These are the years when my kids have tried me more than ever because it’s during this time when they are the most opinionated. I remember those years thinking I knew it all. When you try so many ways of showing them consequence to action it’s easy to get frustrated when they get to the years when they just don’t care. It’s part of growing up I know. As a kid I was more than a handful and so in a way I guess this is payback for all the things I did.

As a parent you hear all kinds of methods for getting your kids to behave from smothering them with love to tough love. The thing is not all kids respond to all things same way. Sometimes taking away a favorite toy will work for one kid when noting seems to work for another. You have to find out what works.

KidsFighting3Today when I got home my 16-year-old told on the other two teenagers for tormenting the youngest. It’s a game they often play only because they think the reaction they get is funny. The youngest isn’t beyond overreacting which makes matters worse. The scenario plays out like this (15-year-old to 13-year-old) “HAAAHAAAA look at her hair, sticking up in the back like that.” (13-year-old) “Wow look at you with your hair it’s sticking up.” Not a particularly mean thing to say but then the reaction from the 11-year-old is, “SHUUUUT UUUUUUP LEAVE ME ALONE!!!” Said with the voice of a shrieking harpy and loud enough to cause structural damage to our home.

Last year I was discussing this issue with a Realtor friend and she gave me a fantastic idea I’d never really considered. She said, “When my kids are bad I put them to work.” It’s brilliant. I’ve taken away the Xbox, toys, iPod’s, computers, phones and just about anything I could think of. It got to the point when there was nothing left to take so then what? Chores are always in abundance. It’s the thing that never runs out and it works. Tomorrow they will act up because that’s what kids do but it won’t be like today. The chores will remain fresh in their minds for a few days then we will repeat the cycle.


Can I Get In?

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kids pee in pools
kids pee in pools

Growing up there was no community pool in the neighborhood I lived in but there were two in the apartments across the street. We would sneak in when it was really full but that was difficult to do especially when you are a known pool sneak who lives across the street. The rule was you could swim there only if you were with someone who lived in the neighborhood but there were limitations on that too like only two guests per tenant. When it was hard to sneak in we would walk over to the pool and stand around outside of the fence sizing up the swimmers wondering who we could convince to “adopt” us as their guest. It even became sort of a game at times so that if someone was able to convince a complete stranger to pretend you are their guest, you would swim happily while periodically tossing a middle finger or obnoxious smile at the less fortunate.  The pools were small and often cloudy with urine but so what, it was wet and we wanted to swim. Besides we were the ones peeing in the pool.

Today I took a couple of my kids to the local gym where there are like four or five pools indoors and outdoors with several slides too. As a child I never dreamed such a lot of pools could exist outside of rich white folks neighborhoods, not true really but when you live in “the hood” these things are seen only magazines usually occupied by what were perceived to be rich white folks, I was poor white folks. I’ve always wanted to visit this pool and even had a membership to the gym for a while but never ventured past looking into the pool area while heading up to the weight room. We arrived and not to my surprise it was PACKED with all kinds of people. The heat index is pushing 100 here with the humidity of a tropical jungle.

My first impression was I felt there were too many kids there all probably peeing in the pool plus all the globs of snot that might be floating around, just thinking about that makes me gag a little. Swimming along and kid snot gets in your mouth. But I found as I approached one section it was roped off and looked to be more of an adult area strictly for doing laps and none of the laughing/acting all kid like and stuff. I have four kids and love kids so I don’t want to come across as a kid hater but they do snot and pee in pools you know it just as well as I do.

Getting into the pool was really refreshing and I started doing laps right away thinking I would bust out three of four laps to warm up. Well that didn’t go as planned and I actually had a hard time doing even one without stopping. Did I mention this is an Olympic size pool lap?  Not wanting to look like a quitter I kept going making it to the end in decent time trying so hard not to breathe loud letting others know about my state of cardiovascular sadness. As I finished two more laps I decided to venture outside to the family area with the kids but sat on a chair and pulled out a book. Even though the heat an humidity were out of control it felt good. The sun reflected off the pages so reading was not easy but it felt good to be there, with my kids reading the book and knowing I could come back as often as I wanted and didn’t have to worry if I could get in.