Quick! Hire a teenager now while they know everything.

Long ago I made a point of no longer saying, “I told you so,” to my kids.

But I NEVER promised to stop making the I told you so face.

And I make it a lot.

Sometimes several times a day.

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Occasionally, I just keep it there until the next needed time comes around to save my muscles the unnecessary exertion of popping them back into their default setting—which according to my kids rests somewhere between a scowl and the expression that suggests intestinal blockage.

Lately, I’ve been doing a little motherly worrying that I only have six months to go before one of my fledglings will fly the coop. Is six months time enough to impart those last bits of needed wisdom before I drop her and her bags off at the door of what every parent surely feels is the opening credits of Animal House?

After last week … I’m not so sure.

Yes, there are different definitions of intelligence—and for this I am extraordinarily grateful. Because measuring mine by what I’ve retained from my schoolroom days would send my past educators into a vortex of surround sound tutting so energetic it would be like sitting in the middle of a field full of judgmental crickets.

020214tut (691x800)

So, booksmart? … I ain’t so much none more.

Street smart? I’m fairly confident I’m making the honor roll. My daughter? Well, let’s just say she’s probably one or two notches above Elmo.

My daughter is a violinist. A very fine one. And she plays a fair amount of gigs, so she knows (with the occasional reminder from me) that instruments—like people—must have a maintenance schedule in order to achieve optimal results. Just before Christmas, she noticed one of her strings fraying badly and was about to play a three day running show. I swapped out the ready-to-snap bad string with an old spare, purchased her a set of new strings, and reminded her to bring her violin to the shop for its “annual.”

Amid a slew of, “Yes, yes, I’ll get to its,” I left it at that.

A couple of days ago she mentioned the headmaster of her school had asked that she play for an event he would be speaking at. Mentally calculating her holiday break activities, I could not recall her recounting a trip to the violin maker’s shop and raised an eyebrow at her.

“I’m fine. It’s fine. I’ll get to it.”

The night before curtain call, we were advised by our local newscasters to prepare for icy road conditions the next morning. In fact, we’d found all of the local public schools delaying a couple of hours to allow the frenetic worker bees to get to their stations ahead of the big lumbering school buses full of sleepy-eyed children. All schools, apart from my daughter’s.

As a freshly minted driver, I warned her that she must be prudent and give herself plenty of extra time to firstly, check road conditions before leaving, and secondly, drive slowly to be cautious of slick spots. Her mind was occupied with other things. Mainly, cramming for a calculus test the next morning.

“Did you hear me?” I asked.

“Mmm hmm.”

“How was rehearsal today?”

(Insert a series of mumbles that folks studying the fundamental notions of convergence of infinite sequences will understand) and then,  “My string snapped.”

“What? You mean you still haven’t taken your fiddle in?”

“I’ll play on my electric. I’m fine. It’s fine. I’ll get to it.”

Cue seven a.m. the next morning.

“Mother!”

I was still ten blissful minutes away from my traditional sounding alarm clock, but rose to this one instead.

“Well??? How are the roads?” she asked.

Normally full of pithy remarks at the crack of dawn, I was surprised when nothing but a croaky, “Huh?” came from my throat.

“MOM! I HAVE TO LEAVE! I HAVE REHEARSAL BEFORE SCHOOL AND I’M ALREADY GOING TO BE LATE!”

This did not sit well with me and had me out of bed, searching for my bathrobe and pulling on my wellington boots. The perfect choice for getting a firm foothold on frozen water.

The first step out of the house was slick and shiny. A little farther out, the pebbled courtyard of the driveway would have been a disappointment to most ice skaters, but was still capable of flipping you onto your backside. The blacktop driveway, for the few tentative steps I took, appeared safe. Ish.

“Well??? How is the driveway?”

I watched my daughter lug her electric violin and an amp nearly as large as her Volkswagen beetle toward the trunk of the ice cube she was about to drive.

I shook my head and looked at the crusted over windscreen. “The first ten feet are super. I cannot account for the remainder of the mile.”

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Knowing that the remainder of that mile was pitched at an ungodly angle downward and included at least three or four deadman’s curves, if it was covered in ice, I could imagine her car would no longer be a car but instead a fancy toboggan. I hoped she’d changed her mind. But apparently, she was a potential casualty whether she stayed home or went, as not turning up for the rehearsal was in essence a fate worse than death.

She left for school. I left for the shower and brought with me the prickly panic that would accompany me until I’d heard she made it safely into her parking space.

Fifty anxiety-ridden minutes later (as she forgot to text me when she first made it to school and went straight to rehearsal), and mere moments before I called the school to hunt her down, I received a thumbs up text and then left for an in town appointment myself. Halfway there I receive a second text that said:

Hey, Mom? R u coming into town this morning?

Me—at a stop sign: Already on my way.

Her: Turns out I left the cable that connects my violin to the amp at home.

There is no I told you so emoticon for texting, but somebody should make one. So I substituted: It’s fine. You’re fine. You’ll get to it.

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Six more months and the roads are dicey.

~Shelley

It’s time to reveal January’s winner for the Gotta Have a Gott calendar! We hope you all voted, but if not, you’ll have another crack at it at the end of February (and all the months through November). For now, come see the past month’s winner.

Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all talked about down in the pub. Plus, you can see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone.

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36 thoughts on “Quick! Hire a teenager now while they know everything.

  1. Ohhh, the pain in my gut when I read your stories about raising a daughter… been there, done that, glad it’s over. Somehow they turn out wonderful, but I didn’t get all these grey hairs by myself!!! xx

  2. Wow. Sounds like an experience that could result in high blood pressure all by itself. No need for extra salty foods. Our only teenagers are cats, and they are amazingly quiet about their superior wisdom;)
    Glad you were able to harp on that string for our bemusement!

    • I keep a running list on my desk of all the new ailments created during the year that need addressing when I next see my GP. My fingers are crossed that somehow, within the last 365 days, science and medicine will have discovered a few new treatments for those who simply suffer with the daily pains of raising children. 😉

  3. Happy Goundhog’s Day! 🙂

    Shelley, your chiltlen’s are much older than mine, as I started much later than you did. As my eldest of three girls just hit double digits, (and just now my eight year old for correcting me on a spelling correction with a… ” OMGosh father, seriously?”), I have come to the reality checkpoint that life is taking the path most traveled. (Yes Shelley, that was in reference to H.D. Thoreau). Be it a crux in my choices of travel?

    I believe Rob’s illustration of the child pondering his/her decision of the leap of faith from youth to adulthood was, or rather is spot on. You sir, could mirror that from marriage to parenthood. As another fine Englishman I know would say Rob, good on you sir, (ya’ll speak so funny).

    Just asking my eldest to wear her winter snow boots to and fro school has been almost as challenging as asking a bull to sit. I’m quite sure I have more to come, and, respectfully with God’s guidance, I hope to make it, one day at a time.

    Please tell me I am not the only parent to go through these trials and tribulations of parenthood. Somewhere, somehow I forgot to pick up the parenting manual at the O.B. station.

    God speed and much respect and love,

    Stoshu 😉

    • That drawing of “the leap of faith” is a sequel to one I did about a year ago. I’ll see if I can dig out the prequel.
      As regards the parenting manual – there should be a trilogy – “Parenting for Beginners”, “More Parenting” and the third called “What Went Wrong?”

      • I so need that Sir Rob,

        Today is my 43’rd birthday and I struggle still with communication of my beautiful children, wife, and life. Life, is good; however I wish I just had a manual to forage into just to check out how and what to say before I do so. I LIVE on a cliff. It’s the frontal lobe that I seem to be missing as I get older. That, or they’re just becomming smarter than me.

        Much regards,

        Stoshu 🙂

        • I’ve heard talk among wise men and wise women of this “Frontal Lobe”. I embarked on a quest with a few like-minded and hardy souls a few years ago into the deepest, darkest recesses of Mindbogglonia, in search of this stuff of legend, but we returned empty-handed and I am now of the belief of this “Frontal Lobe” is a myth, concocted by medicine men and shamans to trick and delude us. The tale of my quest will be published as an academic paper when I’ve found a pen that works in the jar of old pens on my desk 🙂

    • Forget about Punxsutawney Phil, Happy Birthday, Bud!

      Hope all those not-so-little ones are now spoiling you with their best behavior today – all the cooking for you (so you can clean up after them later) and all the cleaning for you (so you can go back and assess the chemical damage) and all the gifted naps (so they can paint your toenails while you sleep on the couch) should be showered upon you. Today, don’t think about teenagehood. Cherish childhood.

      Many happy returns! xox

  4. The fact you managed to get this far without saying ‘I told you so’ is an accomplishment worth the Olympic Gold.
    Right now I’m staring at my keyboard in search of an emoticon that would convey ‘I told you so’…I’ll let you know when I find one, but I haven’t gotten any closer than ‘!@#$%’ :S

    • Well, my kids would surely have that medal stripped from my neck in a heartbeat. The face is as good as the words in their minds, and the only thing they’d agree I should receive is a plaque for being sanctimonious. Still, an award is an award, right?

    • I’m incredibly flattered–and thank you. I’ve been told it takes a team of people to edit my blog each week, but I’m hoping it’s not such an arduous process for those who have to read it. I have this image of folks needing to tag team the essays, handing off the baton to the next in line after slogging through each sentence. Fingers crossed this is not that kind of an acknowledgement. 😉
      Regardless, your tip of the hat is a lovely gesture!

  5. I love how you’re the icy driveway tester! It’s been many years since I was a teenager, but I remember the grief I put my poor parents through. (One of the many reasons I’m not having kids–karma can be a bitch.) But in all fairness, your daughter sounds like she has an awful lot on her plate right now, so it’s understandable that she has a tendency to let the little things go. I wasn’t nearly so busy in high school, and I did the same thing. (Oh, who am I kidding? I still do.) She’s going to be just fine, but as a mom, it’s in your job description to worry–and to say (or convey with your expression) “I told you so.”

        • I’m gobsmacked. THE Miranda Stone gets something other than epistles of love??? Clearly people are not reading your poetry. It surely must be from collection agencies as they will never understand how we writers cannot make a living on our art, right? 😉

          • Ah, Shelley, you are too kind! Alas, not everyone is a fan. Some of the rejection notices I’ve received have been real zingers. Keeps me humble, though.

        • Nope. The lingo is buried deep within every mother’s genetic code. It’s amazing and incredibly frightening to hear words come out your mouth that not only ventured forth from your mothers, but that you hated to the core. You can’t stop it. You gaze in the mirror each morning, looking at yourself in horror, asking, “HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? THESE WORDS AREN’T MINE!”
          Yep. Just a nasty trick of evolution. 😉

  6. I am already trying to prepare myself for the fear I’ll face when mine drive – I have 11 years to go and I’m going to need every one of them. I nominated you for a Beautiful Mama Blog Award on my page. Hope you like it!

    • Beautiful Mama? This award is so going up on the refrigerator for the kids to see when they get home from school. I’m going to put it right over the picture they snapped of me last night where I fell asleep on the couch with my mouth open. All in the eye of the beholder, right?
      Thank you for your kindness and I wish you 11 further years of a good night’s rest. 😉

  7. Oh dear lord, how that all seems so familiar! A few weeks ago I worked out that by the time my youngest reaches the age of 20 I’ll have parented teenagers for 13 and a half years solid – no wonder my hair is so grey. Only another 5 and a little bit years to go…

    • Will there be a parade at the end of it? There should be! And when you are finished with this earthly life, scientists should have access to your brain, so that they may study it, examining the toll it took and the strength required to manage such a feat.
      Plus, I suggest you write a book. Folks will be amazed that you can still string a few words together that have attached meaning to them – unlike the garbled wailings that your kids now interpret as simply, “I said pick up your shoes!”
      I tip my hat to you. 😉

    • I’m guessing by “passing out ceremony” you mean what the rest of us would technically define as “sleep?” For some reason, I’m thinking that in about five years time, there will be a slew of grand-kids crawling all over you when you’re hoping to have a kip.
      Still, here’s hoping. 😉

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