Monday, February 1, 2010

You've gotta be cruel to be kind

Anyone with teenagers will agree - it's like living with tennants who never pay and you only know they're around by the mess they leave behind in the kitchen and bathroom.  It's our own fault.  Our house is quite large, not by necessity but because of our desperation to be closer to the schools.  We've esentially got two houses, one on top of the other and thought it would be good for the TD's to have their own space downstairs.  So why would we see them when they've got their own cable T.V, WII, X-Box, bathroom and bedroooms downstairs, away from the 'rents' as we're affectionately known.  The only thing they don't have is their own kitchen but they soon come traipsing upstairs when the waft of dinner approaches their nostrils.

With TD No 1 recently turning 16, I have decided she needs to start being more responsible for herself and so have stopped pocket money in the hope she'll be more serious about finding a part-time job.  This doesn't mean, however, that she doesn't have to do anything around the house.  Since she was 15, she's been responsbile for doing her washing twice a week (which, by the way, only got done by my constant prodding and reminding).  Now, I've decided she's old enough to realise that laundry is a part of every day life and it just has to be done.  So, this weekend, I reminded her once to which she responded by saying, "Oh yeah" and shrugged her shoulders.  This morning being Monday, she realised she didn't have a uniform to wear - what did she do?  What could she do?  She pulled one out of the laundry basket (without ironing it) and then wondered around the house looking for socks!!!

Now, I'm not saying that as a teenager I was perfect.  My mother will be the first one to stand up and attest to the fact that I wasn't.  My dressing table constantly had dust on it about 2 inches thick and I moaned and groaned when I had to hang washing out.  However, at 15 I had a full-time job with a government department and was responsible for getting myself dressed and ready for life in the real world.  This entailed doing my own laundry and ironing, applying my make-up and ensuring I got to work on time (via public transport).  At 18 I moved out of home and was then actually living in the real world.

Yes, my daughter is a senior - an achievement I never had the luxury to achieve at her age but what are we setting our children up for if we don't teach them how to be responsible for themselves?  I'm happy for my children to stay at home for as long as it takes for them to go to uni or establish a career (well, at least until they're 23!!!) but what I don't want are three non-paying tennants who treat the house like a hotel.  So, I've done a purge.  No more cable T.V. downstairs - hopefully they'll be that bored they'll actually come upstairs and ask if I need help with dinner, clean their bathroom without being asked or do their laundry.

Of course, what may happen is that they'll get so sick of living under a Nazi regime, they'll actually move out at 18!  Hopefully, they'll at least know how and when to do a load of laundry!!!


  1. Good for you! I started working at 15 as well, so I can imagine your shock when discovering the different lifestyle that your husband grew up with. It sounds like you have taken a big step in preparing your children for the real world. Better they begin learning these lessons now rather than later when they are on their own for the first time.

  2. My eldest daughter will be 15 next month. She will begin doing her own ironing then. She already tidies her room, changes her bed linen and puts it straight onto wash,so I can't really complain about that. I think I am quite lucky in that respect, I do find the odd glass of water in her room, but no food is allowed upstairs so I don't have the problem of mucky plates all over the place. She also takes it in turns with her sisters to cook once a week. Clearing up though is an entirely different matter - so I nag! I am proud of their independence while sometimes lamenting the fact that they don't need me so much (for practical things) anymore. What I can't wait for is when they take themselves swimming (never going to happen while we live here as its a car ride away), and I don't have to sit sweltering on the poolside!


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