When my daughter was little she dumped an economy-sized box of cereal all over the family room table. Did I yell? Was I upset? Of course not! I ran for the camera:
My photo albums are peppered with these adorable little toddler escapades. Yes, there was usually a mess involved, but they were exploring and learning the all-important concept of cause-and-effect. And we got the cutest pictures!
Flash forward to now, and that same kid is entering tween-hood. Not much has changed, really. Except now it’s not so cute. And it’s manifesting itself in decidedly labor-intensive forms, such as unusually large laundry piles (she tries something on, doesn’t like it and throws it in the hamper rather than hanging it back up!), clutter (quick solution for the budget crisis in the public schools – STOP WITH THE HAND-OUTS!), and disorganization (no, you don’t need your lacrosse mouth guard for your horseback riding lesson, so I’m not sure why it’s in your horseback riding gear bag?). What used to be so precious and sweet is now creating absolute havoc.
Has your teenaged kid learned to wash his hands after using the restroom? Regularly, without being reminded? When he sneezes, does he use a tissue or have you caught him sneaking a finger full of snot under the couch? Disgusting, yes, but so true. And happening whether you catch him doing it or not. You see, we have an epidemic of arrested development amongst our youngsters these days. It probably stems from our manic desire to do everything for them, but may also have something to do with how completely overscheduled they are. There is literally no time to tend to the routine of keeping clean, organized and developing good manners.
I was a slob growing up due to extreme laziness. I had plenty of time – I just chose to live in a bedroom that was knee-deep in detritus. Laziness is definitely not ideal, but it can be overcome (discipline, repeat. discipline, repeat, ad nauseum). I really don’t think laziness is what we’re dealing with these days (it’s in the mix, but it’s not the core issue). Rather, I think these smarties have us all figured out. They either a) avoid doing whatever it is they don’t want to do because they know they can hold out longer than us, or b) intentionally perform the chore (i.e. doing the dishes, folding laundry) poorly, knowing that our OCD will not allow them to continue indefinitely and we will step in and take over, or c) have no good reason to use proper manners and good hygiene – in other words, they have no shame! Moms and dads, we are weak – we cannot overcome this pattern without a tactical plan that gets to the heart of the issue…their self-centeredness!
With that in mind, I have figured out a solution – and it’s brilliant! If they insist on regressing to toddler status, I say we regress right along with them. So, grab that camera and catch them in the act of behaving like toddlers! Nowadays we have instant photo-sharing capabilities that weren’t around when our kids were younger. Post the photo of your 15 year-old with a palm full of snot after a productive sneeze (in fact, use the video option on your smartphone and post it on YouTube)! Snap a picture of your daughter’s congealing cereal bowl on the counter or that skid-marky toilet….it just takes a sec to upload to Facebook!
You can do your very own anthropological study – with photographic evidence. You can capture this generation in all of its splendor. Remember, you have high school yearbook dedications to look forward to – and now you’ll have a plethora of photos to choose from…photos that best represent your child in his formative high school years!
So enjoy your kids again, take the laundry pile with a grain of salt…and be sure to make good use of the captioning option on your favorite social media site!