Teenagers Stuck at Home: What Can Go Wrong?
On a typical week, I would be scouring social media, the news, and email announcements for article topics. But, writing about new restaurants, cool festivals and creative happenings has become so yesterday.
Today, we are all corona-focused, where the fight or flight instinct has been commandeered to just a singular “fight” option as we sit sequestered in our homes. In a very short time, we have become completely engaged in saving our lives. My, what a difference a little time makes.
A week ago, the kids were just beginning their Spring Break. For me, that meant a break from my classroom routine and time with my own boys. Our plans were meager to begin with; some beach days, time with friends and thoughts of trying that new ax throwing place sounded fun. But like the rest of you, any prior notions we had for the week were abruptly side-lined. With minimal disruption to their laid-back schedule, I completely relaxed game-time for the boys, allowed them to sleep as late as they wanted and started baking for them like I was Betty Crocker. As new events unfolded throughout the week, it became very clear they were going to be mandated to stay home for some time. My 13-year-old remained blissfully unaware of most of what was going on, holed up in his room, gaming headset firmly placed. But for my 15-year-old who has had a broader taste of the art of wing-spreading, a slow realization of just what this might mean for him, set in.
The girlfriend. For those of you with teens, please feel free to share ideas on how to tame a boy who really likes a girl he cannot hang with. What I foresee are tougher times ahead, and deep conversations as we go on our daily walks. I normally cherish how he occasionally uses this time to persuade me to allow him some activity or item, calmly playing devil’s advocate. Sorry buddy, not right now.
While most people are hoarding toilet paper and bread, I’ve been collecting Sour Patch Kids, chocolate pretzels, Axe spray, and consumable alcohol just so we all have our “favorites” when the ‘you know what’ hits the familial fan. And you know it will. The kids will likely get tired of their games, something we never thought would happen. Teens have a desire to be away from their parents, a feeling that is reciprocated occasionally, so sitting home is going to hit hard. I kind of wish I had been firmer with that “no” word ions ago.
What are we going to do with these strong-willed twin versions of ourselves now that we are all together in our homes 24/7? With “students” not returning to classrooms after Spring Break, armed with the knowledge standardized testing has been cancelled for the year and online work completed may or may not be counted toward a non-grade for this school year, do we think they’ll really dig into their academics? I mean, I am a special needs teacher who is somewhat adept at working with a classroom of children, keeping them safe and all, but I feel entirely ill-equipped to assist my own children with their learning. I’m trying to not let that show, but the skepticism is there.
I’ve been preparing some activities for the upcoming time my kids will be home, that I’m sure they will describe as lame. As of now, it is up in the air whether I will be home with them or they will be on their own. Either way, I want them to utilize this down time to improve their daily-living skills. I have two EarthBox systems with all the necessary materials to plant a salsa garden including soil, fertilizer, tomatoes, a variety of peppers, and herbs. I think it is the perfect project for them to get their hands dirty, work together, and see life sprout. Sounds lovely to me, but I wonder if they’ll like it. (Insert sarcastic chuckle.) What I have learned through the hoarding hysteria is that if we can grow our own food, why not? I think I might tie game-time to the eventual production of their tomatoes, see which one has the greener thumb.
They are also going to acquire and practice a couple of essential life-skills, also known as “chores that mom does.” From top to bottom, sorting, running the washer and dryer, respecting the items we don’t dry and even emptying the lint tray, laundry training is happening. The other knowledge I’ll be sharing is the proper way to wash dishes, with heavy emphasis on the word “proper.” Living in North Port, our well water is not conducive to shiny, spot-free dishes so we hand wash everything. If you’re going to grow and make the salsa, you also must wash the dishes afterwards.
We have been holding off on movie marathons, bedroom projects, board and card games, and a giant puzzle, but all of that is coming I am sure. As we self-isolate from the world while re-engaging with the people who are our world, I see a silver lining of reacquainted families, stronger bonds, and a deeper love for those in our households. I’m also hoping for a continued compassion for those living outside of our four walls when, God willing, we all reunite. For those of us with teens, let’s put on our brave faces, take many deep breaths while speaking with our children, and remember we were young once too. Except we never had to deal with anything quite like this.
Photos courtesy of Plain and Boring Teenager Facebook page.