Ten times I overestimated my teenager


Thought he could tell time. We have a big clock in the living room. The kind with a face and Roman numerals. I guess that could be hard to read on the fly. Too bad there are also only two to three additional clocks in pretty much every room in the house.

Our youngest child has apparently never learned how to use them. He’s always asking me what time it is.

Thought he knew how to tie his shoes. Not sure why that same child insists on running around with his laces undone more than half the time. Is it a fashion statement? Did I miss a memo?

Thought sitting outside on a bench in 65 degree, sunny weather for 20 minutes wouldn’t do him any harm. I was wrong. It nearly did him in, poor thing, having to wait while I picked up his brother across town. He got sweaty. He was bored. Things could have escalated before I finally showed. It could have been tragic.

Trusted that no homework on Friday meant no homework on Sunday. How is it that math assignments are always popping up out of the blue, inspiring panic and outrage the day before the school week starts again? I think I remember having a conversation about homework on the ride home from school Friday. There wasn’t any, then. Not a stitch.

I totally get this one. Math usually pops out at me unexpectedly, too. Ruins my day. Damn math.

Expected he would know where his shoes were when it came time to leave the house. I honestly think those things grow legs and leave on their own sometimes.

Trusted that he knew he was expected at the table when I hollered “dinner’s ready,” and he yelled back “okay.” Still trying to figure out what the magic words are. Ready. Set. Go? Abra cadabra? The honor of your presence is requested?

Figured if he needed a ride somewhere, he’d let me know in time for realistic arrangements to be made. Apparently, I missed the sign up for the worm hole that would allow me to be where I need to be and simultaneously get him to his thing across town. This is somehow all my fault. I blame physics. And math.

Thought he and I had similar definitions when it comes to the word “clean.” As in “the bathroom has been cleaned, mom.” And this after I’ve walked through the process with him at least three times. Apparently “clean” is a pretty broad definition that can range from what I consider clean, to DEFCON 1 for health hazards.

Uh, the bathtub in here is actually supposed to be beige, buddy. Not pink. Blech.

Thought he was listening when I was talking to him. Ever. I could actually learn a something from my kids on this score. I am terrible at pretending like I’m listening when I’m doing anything else. Exhibit A: The way Mike concludes every sentence with “and then the aliens landed,” as a test.

I’m sorry. You caught me. What was that?

Thought he could get himself to bed at a reasonable time. At least on a school night. Do other teenagers have bedtimes? Call me crazy, but I think if you’re old enough to be licensed to drive a screaming hunk of metal down the freeway without killing yourself or others, you should be able to determine your own bedtime AND get yourself up in time for school.

We spent a lot of years with a strict, 8:30 pm lights out routine, but relaxed the rules considerably once they stopped bugging us while we’re trying to follow the plot line in House of Cards.

However, given how many times my kid has come downstairs in the morning looking like a zombie recently, I’m starting to think about reinstating that rule.

And as a bonus … Two ways I have recently completely underestimated my teen:

Expected a spurt of physical activity after weeks of doing nothing but sitting on his tush would have the same impact on his sixteen year old body as it would on my forty-something one. Recently Jack had a timed swim test to take as a requirement for his lifeguard certification. 500 meters in 12 minutes or something crazy. Recalling his times from summers long ago on swim team, he figured, “meh.” And spent the day before moving as little as possible in order to not tire himself.

That was his actual strategy. His training regimen was to move as little as humanly possible. His last meet was a good four years ago. So, he’s good and fresh.

Was this a problem? Nope. He kicked that timed test thingie in the butt. I, on the other hand, would have needed the defibrillator paddles charged and ready. Proving, once and for all, that age is a big, dumb, douche, and that I know nothing about the fitness of a sixteen year-old male relative to his middle-aged mom.

Mistook him for a tough guy instead of the big, sweet, gooshy, marshmallow he is. Realized my error when he hollered “I love you, Colin,” to his brother on his way out the door the other morning.


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  1. So funny how we think our kids are more mature than they are. I still get the \”What time is it?\” question which always floors me considering there\’s a clock in front of them. Sometimes I think they revert to kid mode more when Mom\’s near. At least I hope!

  2. Bwahahaha!!!! I can relate to soooo many of these! My 12 year old asks me what time it is all the time!!! He says our Roman Numeral clock takes too much effort to figure out! I am also eternally battling with bedtimes and getting everyone up and out of bed!!! Auuughhh.
    I love that your son told your other son he loved him as he was leaving. What a sweetie. It\’s moments like those that get us through all the \”not so sweet\” moments, lol!

  3. oooo eeeeem geee I would love to hear my kids tell each other they love each other.
    As for the cleaning the bathroom thing, I\’ve given up. I\’ve trained them like dogs, and still I wouldn\’t sit on that toilet seat if you gave me a tiara (yes, I said tiara). So I put the HAZMAT suit on, and go on in because I\’d rather risk my life than sit on that seat.