My frustrations with my step teen have been mounting. For days, I’ve been adding her faults to a mental list by which I plan to sentence her final judgment:
- Greasy fingerprints on well, everything
- Spilling food and not even seeing it, let alone wiping it up
- Absorbed into her phone at every opportunity
- Too loud when the babies are sleeping
- Tuning out simple instructions (“I’m sorry, were you saying something to me??)
- Dishes that need to be done 4 times to get it right
- Messy bathroom (toothpaste EVERYWHERE)
- Forgetting to change the lint filter in the dryer
- Walking through the house with muddy shoes
- Needing to be reminded about chores, even the daily ones
I’ve ranted and raved to myself, and then I ranted and raved to my husband. Poor guy. And he’s frustrated too, but hey, she’s a teen and were we really any better at that age?
For me, it comes down to wishing she’d be more conscientious about keeping up after herself. Because I am not a domestic goddess (translation: hate to clean), and every time someone adds to the task that I hate doing, I resent it.
But really, why can’t she just pay a little more attention? It would be so much easier if she just took a look around after making a peanut butter & jelly sandwich directly on the counter. Perhaps then she would notice the bread crumbs all over the counter and the jelly from her fingers that is about to be caked to the jar (and about to be smeared on the fridge handles).
And then I stop. Take a deep breath. Step back and consider it all.
Do I really want her to be more conscientious? Do I really want her to be more like me?
Do I want her to see every little speck of dirt that hits the floor? Do I want her to stop everything and tear apart the stove in order to get every grease smear up? Do I want her to choose not to get into a project because of the potential mess it might make?
Maybe instead, I will allow her a few more years of this dream like state. Where the things that are important to her, like what her friends are wearing and the latest story she’s reading, take precedence over worry and stress.
Because I can remember what it was like to be that age. The carefree nature of the teen years that you can really only appreciate now that it is gone. And honestly, most days I would like to go back to that less complicated, less responsibility-laden life.
So how can I, in good conscience, make a capital case out of all these little things?
Don’t get me wrong. I will still require her to tidy up after herself and complete her chores to my satisfaction. But maybe it is time to reserve the jury for more heinous crimes.