Even though my oldest is only 17 and just ending his junior year in high school, most of his friends are seniors and thus getting ready to graduate and move on to the next phase of their lives, which involves bleeding Mom and Dad dry of every last dime they have; AKA college.
Many of my friends with departing seniors have mixed emotions about this change in family dynamics. On the one hand that parental bond makes it hard to let go, but on the other hand just think what you can do with that extra spare bedroom. It’s tears one moment, and “When are you leaving, again?” the next. The dichotomy is enough to make you want to have a (or another) cocktail.
But then again what did we expect? From the time your sweet baby boy pees on you while lovingly changing his diaper to when your overly-developed 16-year-old daughter curses you for not letting her wear a Fredericks of Hollywood black lace halter to a monster truck rally, you are in for a rough ride. Why should their extraction from home be any different?
Oh sure, Mother Nature does kick in with a little help. After your endearing cherub crosses over to the dark side somewhere around the age of 13, it’s sometimes hard to connect with the cuddly child who once adored you…which makes it easier to let go. Especially when they do something hormonally crazy like morph into a mouthy teenager who publicly declares you look like a chemo patient whenever you wear your favorite knit cap. It’s kind of like watching an innocent baby bird turn into a scary pterodactyl capable of ripping the heart out of a mama bear.
Thank goodness our teenagers show this feisty bit of independence, or else I don’t know if we parents would ever let them leave home. But that doesn’t make their “pulling away” any easier to deal with.
Personally, I’ve found the best way to cope with the stinging effects of teenage back-sass is to dish out just as good as you get. Yeah, yeah, I know all the parenting books tell you to never engage in an argument with your teen. Instead, just quietly nod, like you’re some Zen master on an episode of Kung Fu teaching David Carradine how to level a circle of bad guys with rapid-fire karate kicks to each bad-ass solar plexus. Hogwash to that, I say. How are kids ever going to learn the fine art of high-quality, sarcastic discourse if we simply let them get away with their smart-mouthed, parentally-aimed retorts? Dissing your parents is easy, but holding your own when Mom comes back with an equally smarty-pants answer, well, that raises the bar. It’s our duty as parents to show our kids we’re not totally lame (only partially).
That’s why I’ve come up with 10 snappy comebacks that I encourage you to use when your little imp gets the urge to use you as a verbal punching bag. Consider it my graduation gift to you, as a parent, since in reality you get nothing for propelling your kid through 12 years of public school except a bill for $200K worth of college. (Such a deal!) Even though it’s your teen’s job to be a sass master and your job to be the bigger person, you can still do all that AND have a little bit of fun by returning fire with gems like:
- Tell it to your therapist in 20 years.
- Yes in fact, it is my job to make your life miserable.
- If you think you have rights, feel free to exercise your right to remain silent.
- Getting a job doesn’t mean you get increased maid service at home.
- Last I checked dirty clothes DO NOT pick themselves up off the floor. That’s where you come in.
- I welcome your comments, but reserve the right to ignore them without notice.
- You’re right. It’s not fair. Next ridiculous assumption?
- If you wish I’d just go away, why do you keep coming back to me for money?
- Increasing the volume of your voice does not make you smarter. (Be careful, however, because they can turn this one around on you, if you’re not careful.)
- Yes, I was young once, but I got over it.
And finally, my favorite:
By now you’re probably saying, “Stacy, where were you with this ammunition when my kid started the eighth grade?” Sorry, but I was figuring it all out back then myself. But take solace in knowing that your graduating senior will still be with you over the summer. And as the zero hour approaches to leave the nest, he or she will probably grow increasingly cranky as a way to push you away and embrace independence. At least with these snappy comebacks you can add a little bit of levity to the situation. And I promise you, nothing helps soften that special emotional blow that only your kids can deal out like laughter through tears. Trust me on that one.
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Stacy Dymalski is a stand-up comic who gave up the glamorous life of coach travel, smokey comedy clubs, and heckling drunks for the glamourous life of raising kids (who happen to be bigger hecklers than the drunks). This blog is her new stage.
For more of Stacy’s comedy check out her hilarious book Confessions of a Band Geek Mom available in paperback and on Kindle on Amazon.com.