Posted in Nuts & Bolts, Teens


My oldest son has today off while my younger son has a half-day mid-week.

In the early mothering years, these school-free days were precious gifts of connection.  At mid-life, however, I selfishly view them as invasions of my precious writing time.

At ten-thirty this morning, the 14 year old intruder arrives down the stairs asking for food.

“I’ll make you half a breakfast,” I say, without explaining why.

“Can you drive me to Matt’s after?” he asks, oblivious to anything I say beyond the words, Yes or No.

“I’ll drive you half-way,” I say, working to grab his flickering attention.

“Can I at least call and make plans?”  He asks, deaf to anything I say without the word, “Yes,” and perturbed at the obvious postponement of his urgent need for immediate gratification on simultaneous fronts.

“You can dial HALF the numbers,” I say, finally reaching the tipping point of his receptive ability with the English language.

“Mom! I don’t want to do HALF of anything,” he exclaims, falling into the trap of my brilliantly-crafted coup.

I’ve waited for this moment all morning.

At first, I was just going to hand him a list of all the things he left “half” done:  The recycling by the door (instead of in the car).  The library books at the top of the stairs (instead of by the door.)  The food left out on the counter;  etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc…

But in the hours between my waking and his, I tempered my angst and redirected it toward a more productive outcome than simply venting.

My new and improved plan was to shift the list making to him, requiring that he record all the things he left ‘half” done before I’d meet any of his requests.

However, as the morning hours passed, I realized that my thoughts were still steeped in negativity, and so, I revised my plan of action, again– deciding to place the focus of the list to the tasks that he had completed all the way, once he had done so.

By the time I heard him stirring upstairs, a stroke of parental genius led me to add the “half” twist to my whole presentation– so that when he uttered those slyly extracted words,

“Mom, I don’t want to do HALF of anything,”  I  was prepared with the dramatic delivery of:

“Oh… But you do so many things HALF way!”

I watched as his scowl transformed into a smile, and I knew:

He gets it.

Without another word from me, he turns to take the recycling ALL the way to the car, while I cook him up a FULL breakfast.

Kelly Salasin

To read more on kids & chores, click here.

Posted in Teens

Don’t tell, but I’m enjoying parenting my teen…

I’ve been afraid to admit this because it might:  jinx me,  come back to haunt me, mock me (you name the expression), but the truth is that I’m enjoying parenting my teen and I have been… for months.  (Shhh…)

It was last year after I read Anne Lamott’s description of her own teen that I began to tremble in fear.  I shared the article with my son who was a turbulent 13 at the time, and he asked, “Mom, if 13 is ‘training-wheels-adolescence (Anne’s coinage), then how are we going to make it through ‘hard core biker adolescence (Anne’s descriptor of 14)’?”

But we must be a “biker family” without knowing it, because (so far) 14 has been pretty sweet.

I think it helps that my son now towers over me so that he is compelled to use my body as a leaning post.  This pseudo form of affection is warmly welcomed (even if it puts my back out of whack) after the long absence of any bodily contact between us that began at 12.

It’s not that my teen is a Stepford child or anything.  He is still moody, prone to obnoxious outbursts, outstanding demonstrations of selfishness and the occasional multiple personalities.

But he always comes back around.

I have to give credit to our family “practice” of Non-Violent Communication.  It’s given my son the tools he needs to understand and express his burning teen desires and it’s lent a voice that I can hear through my middle-aged ears.  And although he is the first to mock any pride we might take in our family, I’d like to think that he feels heard–and because of that, he’s willing to hear us.  His small, but heroic teen efforts of compassion go a long way toward family harmony.

But here’s my secret.  What I am enjoying most is exploring the frightening topic of his emerging sexuality.

Months ago, I reached out to other mothers of boys to ask, What do I need to teach my son about sex? Only to discover that I hadn’t lived what I most wanted to offer. So now we are learning, side by side (although he doesn’t know that.)

(stay tuned for next week’s post on moms, teens & sex)