Why am I spending the precious $100 on something as frivolous as breakfast at the Village Inn on Sunday morning? Answer: to save a life–mainly my life and my teenager’s life.
Between closing a business, moving and starting to blog my budget is stretched tight. $100 a month is huge for me–a lot of cash to spend on one thing.
Creating a Family
This little person who arrived in my life almost 13 years ago rocked my world. My love for him expanded by heart 100,000 times. It changed my theology and finally allowed me to understand how deeply our creator and heavenly Father loves me and you. Earth shattering does not describe the changes that motherhood brought into my life.
Except for the very early years, I reared children and worked full time. Everyone and everything divided into time slots between sunup and sundown–a piece for work, a piece for husband, a piece for this boy, a piece for that boy and a piece for God. This resulted in no peace for me.
As my husband progressed in his career, and a move became inevitable. “I am not going to work for at least the first 6 months,” I said. That lasted for, oh a day. I acquired a new job 2 months before we moved and proceeded to work in both our old place of residence and the new one during the move itself.
My initial idea to get the family settled before I took a new job got thwarted by the housing market. As a family, we needed the extra money I earned each month to qualify for a house loan (or so we thought).
Want to Repeat Middle School Anyone?
The transition from elementary school to middle school taxed the whole family. My son changed from a single teacher classroom to 8 different classroom transitions in one day. Simple things like bathroom breaks complicated his busy day. He struggled and I emailed. I emailed his teachers, talked to the principal, begged for help. He was drowning and I was pulling the family down with him. Just getting basic homework done initiated a massive tantrum on both our parts.
Mid-way through the year my husband said no more. No more yelling, crying and pushing to get homework accomplished. Changes in school, changes in work, entertaining a move and just life ate away at my almost teenager son’s and my relationship.
We Were at a Standoff on Our Best Days
In many ways we are more engaged with our teenagers than we were at any other time in our parenting journey. (Scott, p. 37)
Outside the toddler years, no other season of our children’s lives will involve so much testing of limits as the teen years do. (Scott, p. 46)
I caught myself daydreaming about those years when band-aids were the magical cure-all and I chose the playdate pals. Now, time spins out of control. Each day presents a new complication with school, friends and “Mom,can I?”
During the Toddler Years There Were Naps
Naps the magic reset button to life. Unlike many of my friends, I did not run around and get things done while the boys napped. I curled into a ball and dreamed alongside them.
I miss naps! They are like the magic reset buttons for the day. Upon waking we started the whole day again.
Teenagers don’t nap! At least mine doesn’t. As my son’s and my relationship spiraled downward into power struggles and snarling, I stumbled upon a new reset button.
Breakfast All Day at the Village Inn
Our church formed a junior Dave Ramsey Financial Class focused on teens. I wanted my son to attend. The one catch? Getting to church early. My bribe, “I will take you out to breakfast at the Village Inn if you will go to the class.”
Weighing bacon, eggs, and pancakes against extra sleep on Sunday, my son agreed to give it a go. So the next Sunday we left the other two at home and grabbed a booth at the VI for breakfast. I sat there thinking, “I have no agenda for this meal. What will we talk about?”
Wait? What? I caught myself thinking. I need to have an agenda to talk to my son about over every meal. My conversations with him lately included information I must impart or information I must pull out of him. No wonder we struggle to communicate. I sat back in the VI booth and thought, listen, just listen to what he says just like you did when you were playing trucks on the carpet all those years ago.
Teenager Relationship Reset
I really like the idea of a “parenting-do-over” don’t you? Sharing life with my boys is the sweetest part of my life. Patty Scott’s book Parenting Your Teen Through Chaos and Crisis offers what she calls a “relatively free from argument” way to keep your teen from ” treating you like the enemy in their private war.” (Scott, p. 63-64)
This is what my teenager said about having breakfast at the VI:
I like spending time with you. I like you not having to stress about making breakfast. I like the food.
Aww! That just makes me want to hug him just like the sleepy two-year-old that would come out from the nap ready to play. The $100 for 4 breakfasts a month is a small price for keeping the line of communication open, don’t you think?
Patty’s book recommends other ways to do a relationship reset. What ways have you found with your own teen to make this connection? As Patty says at the end of her book,
Whatever you do, don’t parent your teen alone. (Scott, p. 79)
If you have great ways to connect with your teen or pre-teen give me a shout in the comments below!