Part of raising competent adults is letting kids make mistakes.
So coaches, fellow parents, teachers…
Don’t judge me if you happen to see my kids eating Cheetos walking into the gym.
Don’t judge me if they aren’t in the right practice wear.
Don’t judge me if they have to miss practice because they haven’t finished their school work.
Why? Because it’s important for teenagers to build necessary life skills for college and beyond, and if they don’t learn them now, then when?
It may seem harsh, but kids have a fast learning curve. When permission slips and homework are left at home, I no longer drop them off. Do this once and I promise they won’t forget again.
My job is to bring up my children, not work for them.
Waking them up, or telling them it’s time to leave.
Once my kids have a phone, they know that the privilege comes with responsibilities. It’s now their turn to set an alarm to wake up for school or practice on weekends and to tell me when they’re ready to leave. By now, they know how long it takes for the drive to school or the gym, and they need to plan around that. If I know it’s time to go, I’m not going to stop what I’m doing and try and herd them to the car if they’re mucking around on their phones or computers. They’ve been able to tell the time since they were 7.
Making school lunch and packing after-school snacks.
Sometimes I’ll pack them leftovers from dinner the night before, but for the most part, my kids know they have to make their own lunch. They can tell me what they want before I do the weekly shop if it’s not the usual sandwich/fruit/vegetable snacks. And I do have a secret mom-stash of granola and Larabars/RX Bars on hand for when they do forget after school snacks for the days we go directly from school to the gym. But they aren’t the good flavors! I know they’re desperate if they beg for kale and pineapple bars!
I know cheerleading is time-consuming—the whole family knows it’s time-consuming! Once the information packet with their competition schedule goes out, it’s up to my two cheerleaders, and my one soccer player, to put their competitions and games in the family calendar. We have one that goes on the fridge and one that’s linked through our phones and emails. I love watching my children play the sports they have chosen, it’s pure joy on their faces seeing them on the field or the mat. But if you forget to put it in the calendar then I’m not making an emergency plan to get you there, especially if there’s a conflict on the family schedule. Call friends for a ride, look up flights, do what you need to do to make a plan and come to me with your solution.
Educating them about their education
Following on from planning their schedules, I won’t make their failure to prepare for assignments or away competitions my emergency either. They put all their major assignments and exams in the family schedule, and I will gladly help with preparation, pick up poster-boards, read over essays and enjoy talking about their school work with them. But I won’t nag them to study, to research or to start writing.
I’m a weird mom who actually enjoys doing laundry. I find ironing pillowcases while watching tv soothing. It drives me absolutely bonkers to see my kids’ laundry hampers overflowing with the sports clothes I know they need for gym class tomorrow, or the practice wear needed for cheer that week. But I made a conscious decision that my high schoolers need to figure out how to wash their clothes before they go to college and turn into the stereotype who turns all their white clothes pink with a rogue red sock. So, I stopped doing their laundry. There were tears. There were tantrums. But now my two teens have worked out a system of helping each other with loads of laundry, and my junior in HS even washes her MS sister’s cheerleading practice wear with hers. I’m incredibly proud—although their whites could be whiter.
My goal as a parent is to send my kids off to college and for them to not be “that kid” or for them to move in with their partner and not have them question if they were raised in a barn. I want to feel confident when they hit the real world that they’re going to be just fine because I let them fail with the safety net of home, so when they fail in the real world they know how to pick themselves up again.
So, if you see my kids conditioning for the wrong practice-wear while I calmly sit by and catch up with friends, don’t judge me!