While everyone was bemoaning the end of Summer, I was sitting at our town pool. I looked around at the crowds, listened to the elderly couple next to me discussing whatever substance was under his toenails (seriously – EWWWWW!) and glanced at my Teenager. He was sullenly next to me, engrossed in the Love Of His Life, his phone. He was also digging his heels in. His father and I had “forced” him to our lovely pool so he could do a few laps. His response: “I don't wanna.”
This was the summer of that terrible condition called the “I Don't Wannas.”
It started with the summer camp he'd picked out (he coughed into his hand “I don't wanna” go), continued as I asked him to play with his sister, and deteriorated into the night as we told him to go to bed. It was the response du jour to our request to take a shower (yes, EPA, that's my house you smell). On vacation, the illness continued at our resort. We had to "force" him to go to Busch Gardens (WTF?!!!) and getting him to do anything away from his phone was like pulling teeth. As school started, which he didn't “wanna” go to but the law says he has to, the "I Don't Wannas” was especially acute when I asked the Teen do to his chores.
I grew tired of it. There's no way in hell I'm raising a slacker. Then something weird happened.
I caught the "I Don't Wannas"!
When the teenager asked me to make breakfast, I wheezed, “I don't wanna.” When he wanted a ride home from school, I sneezed, I don't wanna.” And when he needed a ride and the cash to get a friend a gift card, well, you get the idea.
“But my chores are physical things,” he argued. “Your responsibilities as a Mom aren’t.”
REALLY? Here's how I responded:
“You think that hauling my ass out on a 100 degree day to pick you up from Marching Band practice isn't physical? The sweat pouring down my back suggested otherwise. You think going to the grocery store and lifting cases of seltzer (the only thing the Teen drinks) into the car and into the garage doesn't hurt my back? And you think waiting in line at Staples for hours after school started to get the supplies you 'forgot” to tell me about, make my stomach clench and feet hurt?” I refrained from discussing the 27 hours of labor it took to birth the nervy kid.
“I'm not being vindictive, but if we don't find a cure for this bout of 'The I Don't Wannas,' I think your life is going to be radically different.
Family members do things for each other, whether they want to or not. That's kind of one of the unwritten rule of Love.”
The Teen mulled this over for a bit. His eyes closed as he thought about the implications of what I was saying.
And, miracle of miracles, he was cured!
Not completely. He is a Teen, after all, and he still complains, but one look from me and he does what he has to. I don't see a relapse of the “I Don't Wannas” happening soon. He's cured.
Thanks for reading! Come back soon when I'll have a tip to help you with...something...I love tips!