“I shall need to sleep three weeks on end to get rested from the rest I’ve had.” –Thomas Mann, German novelist
Have you heard of the book by Adam Mansbach called Go the F**k to Sleep? It’s the modern parents’ hilarious rant-in-a-book, a bit of humor to get them through those times when the only desire they have in this entire world is to sit alone on the couch with a glass of wine in peace while the sweet little cherubs slumber upstairs. Lately, I’ve been considering writing a letter to Mr. Mansbach. I’d like to suggest another book for the teen years: Get the F**k Up!
Allow me to explain.On Friday morning, I approached the closed bedroom door. There is a half sheet of notepaper taped horizontally onto the upper right quadrant which reads, “Good Parking Ass Hole”, underlined twice for emphasis. It’s something Olivia found on her car a few months ago, to which she has taken a bizarre liking. Some stranger put it on her windshield one afternoon last year while she was at the July 4th town celebration. We both thought it was amusing that the composer of this well-placed note wrote his insult as two words instead of with the correct spelling which, in case you were wondering, is asshole. She admitted it was a poor parking job, but doesn’t apologize for it. “Well, there was no place else to park and I had to fit the car into a space that was SO hard to get into!”
If only I could find that asshole and tell him how much she loved his little message.
I knocked on the door softly, hoping for the word that tells me she is the responsible version of my teenage daughter today. The word is “Yep”, spoken with her awake voice rather than her sleepy one. The tone and strength of the “Yep” is what determines which scene will be before me when I crack open the door. Will I find her still in bed looking at but not actually focusing on me and mumbling, “What? What time is it?” Or will I find her on the floor sitting cross-legged in front of the mirror putting makeup on her already gorgeous face? I always, always, hope beyond hope for the latter.
Not hearing any response, I sighed, no, I pushed air out of my lungs with pursed lips and the pissed-off attitude of a frustrated mother fighting a relentless battle. Cracking open the door to my daughter’s bedroom, it was not the responsible version I found. It was the other one, the one that makes me wonder where it all went wrong. In my humble opinion, it’s very simple: set the alarm, turn the alarm off, stretch, and get the f**k up. Alas, the figure on the bed was motionless. It was 6:37 a.m. on a school day. Considering school would start in less than an hour, and she still wasn’t showered or dressed, her first stop will be the B House office to pick up her late pass and sign up for yet another detention.
Detention at our high school starts out as a half hour for the first three tardies. After that, late students get what is called an ADP. Not sure what the acronym stands for, but I know this particular detention lasts two and a half hours. Third marking period has barely started and my daughter has already racked up three ADPs. In other words, she is CHRONICALLY tardy.
I’ve finally come to realize at this late date, that detention is not enough of a deterrent. How many times as a teacher have I gotten angry about parents who expect the school to parent their children? How many times this year have I done the very same thing?
So when Olivia came downstairs into the kitchen, I handed her the keys to my car. “You’re taking my car to school today.” It’s the consequence I’ve decided upon and one I hope will be effective. She loves her 2011 Subaru Forrester. She does not love my 2008 banged-up Toyota Sienna mini-van (I wasn't the one who banged it up. Let’s leave it at that). She didn’t dare say a word. She was already an hour late for school. The next consequence will be worse—Ken or I will drive her there and pick her up. She’ll really hate that.
Will my plan work? I can’t predict the outcome. What I know for certain is before long, she’ll have to get up for college classes and community service work and after that, a job in the real world! There’s no detention for any of those scenarios.If my mini-van/car service consequences fail to get her out of the house on time, I'm out of ideas.
I just hope I don’t find a note taped to my bedroom door tomorrow morning that reads, “Good Parenting Ass Hole”, underlined twice for emphasis.