on strike


I love my stepson.  I do, He is awesome. But like many other kids those manners you have been teaching since embryo stage applies most often when you child is a guest in OTHER people’s homes. It’s so not cool to use those manners where you live! It simply is not done!

“Oh he is so helpful!”

“How do I get a child who helps me clean up the kitchen, set the table, walk the dog, and helps make the salad?”

“He is the PERFECT guest! And so articulate and conversational!”

Yes, I love hearing all this nice things….but here I sit laughing to myself that I wish I knew that person inside the four walls of our home!

Perfect manners. Outside the house.


Here I have a mutant ninja teenager.  He loves the inner sanctum of the bat cave, err his room.  Enter at your own risk.

Or the gaming palace, errr I mean the FAMILY room.

Want to make a teenager twitch? Have the temerity to actually sit in the FAMILY room and use it for anything OTHER than video games. Or hide their phone for a few minutes.

And when said beloved teenager is in the FAMILY room, you see him practicing to be a future corporate mogul and reclining like Julius Ceasar.  He has the head set on to communicate with his friends (and sometimes I swear they are more on the head sets to communicate than game). Then he has the super battery charger thingy in case he needs to plug in, text messaging/snap chatting/whatever on the phone, and for the technology trifecta, the tablet….with another game going on.

Teenagers contrary to popular belief can actually multitask VERY well and ever so efficiently….it just has to be something that interests them.  (Which aren’t parental units, naturally.)

When a certain someone was a little boy he loved hanging out with us.  He even showed interest in the kitchen.  When he was 10 he used to make me his world class favorite snack: he would cut up an apple, put it on the plate and carefully like he was mortaring bricks, would spread on peanut butter and even drizzle a little honey. And we would make hot cocoa together.

But at 17, you do not get that.  It is about friends, school, girl friend, gaming and not necessarily in that order.  Parental units are to be tolerated and used for rides to get places or buy stuff.  It’s not cool to hang out with the parental units, I do actually remember that much from being a teenager myself back in the olden days of yore.

Living as the only female human in the house I have resigned myself to a couple of things. One is socks form their own strange colonies along with random piles of dirty clothes.  The second is laundry looks much better when artfully displayed on the floor around the laundry hamper.

Another thing is the male of the human species have their own special, often somewhat primal non-verbal language.  They can move about the house  essentially grunting to each other and well sometimes the female feels somewhat invisible….until you cook or bake something that smells REALLY REALLY good.

One thing that doesn’t seem to happen very much in my house anymore are family dinners.  Teenager might turn into a pillar of salt or something if he couldn’t spend his time after homework on his games with his friends.  So I have pretty much given up on that ideal.  Which saddens me, but too many instances of teenager face (that special they are-bored-don’t-want-to-be-here-face), made me give it up.

But there is one thing I won’t give up on.  If teenager wants to be master of his own universe after homework, fine, but it is not my job to be the maid.  Yet somehow, I end up being the maid because teenagers never seem to know where the dishwasher is where they live…you are the maid and dishwasher.

Last night I cooked a lovely dinner.  Teenager did not join us.  But when he got off of his games and brought up his dinner plate (which was fixed and delivered to him by his father), it once again got deposited in the sink for the fairies or someone to take care of.

Proverbial straw meet camel’s back.  Time to go on strike.  I am not the maid.

So I decided to do to him what we once did to a summer beach house roommate who was a supreme kitchen slob: deposit his plate back in his room on a towel with a note (as seen above). Mind you I am being much kinder to him than I was to this woman once upon a time – we took a BIG beach towel and put it on her bed and onto the towel went a week’s worth of dirty dishes and glasses and detritus she had left trailing around for an entire week.  We had thought if we let her stuff pile up, she would take care of it but when that didn’t work, it was time for towel on bed. That worked and the rest of the summer she didn’t leave a mess in the kitchen.

Whether this leaving the plate back for my teenager to find will work or just be perceived as another parental unit nuisance remains to be seen.  I suspect I will have to go on strike a few more times.  Sorry not sorry but when I was his age I could not only cook, my sister and I were expected to clean up or help clean up.

Parents of teenagers are reading this and laughing, because you have to have one to truly get this new parenthood club.  I don’t ask for much, I just want a little help and cooperation once in a while.  And I am waiting for the feedback from some of my friends who do NOT have teenagers.  They feel free to liberally sprinkle parenting advice and while I appreciate their efforts, telling me what to do when they do NOT have a single teenager in residence is not helpful…and I will be sitting there with popcorn gleefully on the sidelines when their kids who “would never do that” become teenagers.

And I might get them the book by Dr. Peter Marshall titled  Now I Know Why Tigers Eat Their Young

Thanks for stopping by!


1 thought on “on strike

  1. Thanks for the giggle! I have a 9 year old and I’m trying my hardest to ensure that he’s doing his part and respectful when it comes to chores. Not always easy – but I plan to use your “on strike” strategy if/when needed! 🙂

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