I Always Feel Like Someone Is Watching Me

My sons, ages 18 and 16, have a BOUNTY on their heads this week.

I’m posting “Wanted Signs” with their pictures on them at the entrance and exit gates of our neighborhood like people do when they’ve lost their Cat.

“Have You Seen These Boys?”

“Report Any Suspicious Behavior by calling (555) 555-5555”

Before you start feeling sympathetic or heaven forbid, embarrassed for them, know that they brought this situation entirely on themselves. Oh sure, they’re good boys, as far as teenaged boys go. They’re mostly A students, who’ve never had a brush with the law (save a speeding ticket or two). But, they have chosen to stage a mutiny this year, by rejecting the complimentary babysitting services their grandmother generously bestows upon our family, whenever my husband and I travel out of town. They insist that they are mature enough these days, to look after themselves. The little ingrates.

“We don’t need a babysitter! We’re not babies!” protested my youngest (aka: The Baby).

I guess he has a point. Maybe they aren’t babies. After all, when was the last time anyone saw a baby, wearing a headset, dropping F-bombs, killing aliens online, holding a Pepperoni Hot Pocket in one hand, while texting in a group chat with the other? An ACTUAL baby couldn’t do that – this requires a sophisticated skill set a baby wouldn’t have; any fool can see that.

Opting for a gentler path of persuasion, my older son recounted how, the last time my mother watched them, she made him change out of his gym clothes into a “nicely pressed pair of slacks,” and an Oxford dress shirt, before he walked across the street to his friend’s house, because, no grandson of her’s was going to “run around the neighborhood looking like a vagabond!”

It just so happens that the boys’ campaign for independence dovetailed with some health concerns of my mother’s, so after exhaustive deliberation on our part, we’ve agreed to let them stay here, on their own, unsupervised.

Sort’ve…

As a veteran parent of 29 years, I believe the key to leaving your teens home alone for a few days sans adult supervision, is to traumatize them into “Self-Policing.” A parent must accomplish this years in advance by convincing one’s children at an early age, that they are never ever TRULY unsupervised. They must come to believe that you have “moles” planted strategically all over town; that they’re basically being raised in a fish bowl. You must raise them to believe that if, for some odd reason, YOU didn’t witness a transgression, someone who did will phone it right in.

One clever way I accomplished this:

When my young children would report something random that happened at school, I often pretended I already knew about it. It didn’t matter if their story was about a classmate that got sent to the principal’s office or a who kid vomited during Circle Time, I acted as if I already knew. As they got older, I pretended to know who-French-kissed-who at Middle School parties. As I negotiated my mini-van out of a parking space, I would nod and say, “Oh yeah, I heard about that!” (Needless to say, I had NOT heard about it, as I had been buried under an avalanche of laundry for at least 15 years; I only surfaced periodically for air and Lean Cuisines.)

I proudly credited a phantom organization I called the “Underground Parent Network” as my chief source of information. My kids perceived the UPN as a legit and viable threat to all of their juvenile delinquent urges and grew up with a healthy respect and fear of it.

My kids think the UPN is real...works for me! #momlife Click To Tweet

I’m relying on my initial investment in my children’s collective social paranoia to keep their behavior in check.

Nonetheless, I’m not leaving anything to chance. I am working on a list of all the things I need to do before I leave, to ensure unimpeachable behavior in my absence.

  1. Make “Wanted Posters” (offering cash reward to anyone who calls in reporting suspicious activity – similar to Crime-Stoppers?)
  2. Email my friends a list of their “Drive-By” shift assignments.
  3. Install Manny-Cams strategically around the house that stream directly to our iPads and laptops.

Failing these measures, if you happen to see anything that looks the slightest bit “askew,” over at our place, don’t hesitate to call that number, I’ll see to it there’s a little reward in it for your trouble.

You are a member of the UPN, aren’t you?

Parenting Teenagers Everyone from Leslie’s husband of 33 years, to her 5 children squirm in discomfort a little bit when she uses everyday family experiences as fodder for her blog, “A Ginger Snapped.”  They can routinely be heard complaining as she lets all the unsavory stuff out, in what they now commonly refer to as, “Pandora’s IPad!”

You can connect with Leslie on Twitter, and Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

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Parenting Teenagers

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