Thursday, May 25, 2006

Teen Expectations - RM column April 27

THE Young Wan and I had cause to laugh recently following a post made by another blogger Irish Typepad on what a young person should be able to do by particular ages.

For example by the age of 7 a child should, in theory, be able to make their own sandwich, sounds fair enough but considering what the Young Wan makes at 14, I can imagine it being not the most appetising.

Though I should explain the Young Wan’s sandwich making has more to do with the fact that she doesn’t want to make the sandwich in the first place because she believes mine are nicer. I am probably being played like the largest violin with that and the bad sandwich making has more to do with laziness more than anything else.

Other gems include changing a bed by 10 (what happens when they are 14 and seemingly incapable of ever making a bed), or cook a meal by 13 (the Young Wan’s reaction to that suggestion was ‘I couldn’t cook a meal to save my life’) or sew a button by the age of 14.

As I have said any inability or reluctance to accomplish these milestones have more to do with laziness than competence.

The Young Wan will step over stuff in her doorway and it has become a leisure pursuit for me to watch and count to see how long these items remain. And I can tell you they never bother her at all, just me. But I know that is typical for most teens.

We just do too much for them. Even at times I think I expect too much, and then I realise that is a Mummy-guilt thing more than anything else. I had jobs to do growing up and so does she.

And while I am laughing at this, I should be laughing at myself, because as the mother I have somehow unwittingly allowed this to happen.

I always thought that I have given her chores, given her responsibility for things within the house that I was living by this mantra.

But we have slipped somewhere because right now I seem to be picking up after her more than ever. And it is driving me nuts.

Most stuff done by the Young Wan around our home is prompted. I have insisted on weekends that if she is up and about and there are dishes to be put away or done be put away or done before I get up.

At the moment we are about five times out of ten likely to see that.

But she does pull her weight in other ways, probably because they suit her but that is kinda okay as long as the other stuff gets done too.

She is a fantastic and second to none gopher, you know gopher this, gopher for that. And she also does the laundry, though that’s becoming sketchy at the moment.

We have to use a launderette living in one of Dublin flatland’s areas and after discovering during one expedition to the wash clothes that the Young Wan had provided skant offerings I sent her down the next day so she would have a fresh uniform going to school.

Since then it has become her job every weekend. She knows or should know about what to dry and not to dry and she should certainly remember to bring what hasn’t been dried back home.

Yet a significant proportion of what I wear was left in the launderette over the Bank holiday weekend.

My first basic mistake was thinking that if this was her job she would realise what it entails, how dumping clothes into the laundry because she cannot be bothered to put them away is needless work and how leaving clean clothes lying all over a messy floor just adds to an already heavy load.

Did she hell. What she has discovered is that a normal two-hour job in the launderette can be stretched to three, three and a half hours, with the extra time spent hanging about with her pals.

So there’s a lot of things the Young Wan can do and a lot that leaves much to be desired, a bit like the rest of us eh?

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