Excuses Village – the fastest growing American city

My son slept through his alarm again today.

In his defense, he does have to get up ridiculously early.  It’s completely counter to his biology.  In their teens, children become creatures of  darkness, like the vampires in Twilight, only slower moving and less sparkly.  That way they can text late into the night when we think they’re asleep.  It’s hard on the parental love life. When they’re too young to drive, they’re always home, and always awake.

Except for 5:15 a.m. when my son is supposed to be in the shower.

I usually go in his room and roust him out of bed, but my husband suggested I was enabling his behavior.  Why bother with an alarm when he can blame his mother for not getting him up on time?  So for Christmas, we got him a no-fail alarm clock.  Not only did it shriek, it had a pad that went under the mattress and shook the bed.  It didn’t take long for my son to disable the shrieking part, and the shaking part was soothing, like a magic fingers massage.  He didn’t even have to put in a quarter.

We parent from the school of natural consequences.  It’s fairly effective.  The problem with natural consequences in this case is that when he misses the bus, I have to drive him to school.  So we decided that if I had to get him up, he owed me an hour of labor during the weekend.  After all, if you come to work late, you have to make up for it with your free time.

He owed us two hours of labor by Wednesday.

When we hit hour three, he cried foul, insisting that his alarm clock never went off.  It’s not the first time we’ve heard that one.  In fact, he has a lot of excuses these days–the test was insanely hard, he didn’t hear me ask him to bring in the garbage cans, that his friend won’t answer his text asking which movie theater they are going to.  He’s beyond being the mayor of excuses village.  He has the keys to the kingdom.  When I talk to other parents, it seems like he’s in very good company.

It would be easy to blame it on being a teen, but as a society we aren’t good role models.  If lack of accountability was a disease, the WHO would call it a pandemic.  I can’t fix the world, only my corner of it.  So, it’s Accountability ‘R Us around here.

It sucks.

I can’t say “I ran out of time.”  I’ve already talked about this one.  It’s baloney, but it sounds so much nicer than, “I could have gone to CVS to get more Metamucil, but I got sucked into Angry Birds.  So sorry.” “I was going to fill the car, but the gas station was on the left, and traffic was really busy, and when I came back, I had to go home via Reston Parkway instead of Wiehle, and there isn’t a station on the way back,” becomes “It was cold, I didn’t want to stand outside, and I knew you’d do it for me since you’re driving the car next.”

Owning your decisions may be honorable, but it pisses people off.

So now what?  Good question.  I don’t have the answer.  I suppose, like many things in life, it’s about balance, and my yoga teacher says balance is all about core strength.  So I’ll stay strong in my center, and hope that my son finds his own.

And if he doesn’t, I’m sure it’s his Dad’s fault.

How do you walk the line?  Comment below!

Words by J. B. Everett

Photograph by Alan Cleaver

8 comments on “Excuses Village – the fastest growing American city

  1. TheOthers1 says:

    Lol. I think I live in excuses village. It’s easier to have an excuse than own up to the fact that we couldn’t do or be what we said we would. We’re all guilty of that, falling short. A human condition I think. Great post. Made me chuckle. 🙂

  2. mobyjoecafe says:

    It’s a very easy location to get to, and housing is plentiful and cheap. And chances are, you know most of your neighbors. Sometimes admitting to your “humanness” is the best parental strategy there is.

  3. […] do get to sleep in late. That, I appreciate.  Usually, I have to get up around 5:00 a.m. prod my son to get ready for school, a process that takes….  I like sleep almost as much as I like red wine and chocolate (and usually the more red wine and […]

  4. Sadly, I somehow went vampire back then and never made it out. I still live like one – Up until all hours of the night even on work nights. Not fun!! I use my cell phone alarm and keep it right next to the bed on full volume. I tried waking up to a clock radio set on a music station, but I just incorporate the music into whatever I’m dreaming at the time and sleep through it! [#TALU]

  5. I dread if I ever have to go back to work full-time and have to wake at 5:30 am again. I did don’t get me wrong, but still hated it. But at this age, I can tell you I can’t come up with excuses, because if I did someone would always call my bluff!! Great post 🙂 (#TALU)

  6. farmbeachgal says:

    Good company, indeed. With six teens, you can imagine the excuses I hear on a daily – no an hourly – basis. Mind-boggling.
    I used to make them pay me for my time and gas if I had to drive them in, or drive in a forgotten
    project or what-have-you.

    Thanks for linking this up with the TALU!

  7. Geez – my youngest kids are 6 and 4 and I’m already getting excuses, One of my 6 year olds starts doing a depressed monkey walk whenever we ask him to do something he doesn’t want to do. THIS part of parenting is hard! (talu)

  8. I’m sitting here in my kitchen, calmly drinking my second espresso, listening to the dog snore and watching the clock so I’ll get out the door in time for yoga….all because my three kids are now in college.

    I completely agree that natural consequences are frequently harder on the mom than they are on the kid. And I was convinced my youngest would NEVER be able to get out of his bed on his own and get to a college class. It was hard not to let them make their own mistakes and fail. But they’re all becoming contributing members of society, slowly but surely. The youngest even gets to (most) classes on time!

    Hang in there!

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