Does that get your blood boiling? Well, mine did. Today.
How lovely to have teenagers. Honestly, I have a draft in my blog dashboard titled “Ode to Teenagers” in which, believe it or not, I was going to extol the virtues of teenagers, because no one usually talks about them. But now that just moved down about ten lines.
I know I’m just fishing for your sympathy here, but I’ll tell you the story anyway. What got it started, I admit, was a screw-up on my part. As usual, I was trying to fit too many things into my schedule and, by extension, the kids’ schedule. Which mother doesn’t? Car repair first thing in the morning and orthodontist appointment for the boys at 12:30. It all would have worked out, had I not learned at the last minute of an award ceremony at school at 10:00 where Zax was about to receive an recognition for his math performance.
Which mother doesn’t want to be there when her son receives an award, even if it is only acknowledged with eye-rolling?
So I dropped off the car, had them deliver me back at school, made it to assembly just in time for the awards piece (with everybody staring at me as I entered with a banging door, which didn’t exactly help me gain any bonus points with my son), then received a call from the car place that my new brake pads would be $1500 and should they go ahead?
Holy cow, how was this possible? No, I didn’t want them to go ahead just yet. I got busy calling other places, trying to get a better quote, and of course living here in South Africa none of this was either quick or efficient, so the orthodontist appointment, for which I’d have to take the boys out of school early, was inching closer and closer. But of course I didn’t have my car. And then the dealership informed me they wouldn’t have someone available to pick me up before the afternoon.
I called a taxi company and they also were booked until the afternoon. This is Joburg, after all, not a hotbed of public transportation. But wait, how about the minibus taxis? And this is where I have to admit I’m a big chicken. I did not dare take the minibus taxi. Not because I was afraid of accidents, even though it seems every other minibus taxi is involved in one, but because I don’t know how they work. How would I know where they actually go? It’s some kind of weird signalling system I’ve never understood. Of course I never had to, because everyone knows only black people take minibus taxis in Joburg. I was afraid, I admit, of standing out like a sore thumb and making a fool of myself. Even though this would have been such a great story for another Joburg Expat blog post. And yet I tell my kids to step out of their comfort zone and try new things and not be concerned about what other people think. So maybe I deserved what followed, just for being a hypocrite.
What followed was that I had to call the orthodontist to cancel and then sent messages to both boys informing them of the change of plans. Now I know that they are supposed to have their phones off at school, but honestly? They never do. Sure enough, Zax got it and sent an SMS back, but it was vicious. This is where we get to “You need to stop being stupid, Mom!” What I didn’t know was that the school had recently implemented tougher rules on leaving school early, making the kids collect signatures from every single teacher whose class they’d be missing, then taking all those to the front office to get an excuse slip that then was to be handed into the security guards at the gate. Both boys had already collected all their signatures, using up their entire break for it, and Jabulani never even got my message, so that you can imagine they were not happy to have to go back to their classes with a sheepish “never mind, my mom changed the appointment to tomorrow.”
The thing is, Jabulani takes those things in stride. But not Zax. Never has, and never will, and that is why his name is Zax, as in The Prairie of Prax. To make things more complicated, Zax had asked me to bring his hockey stuff when I was picking them up. He should have taken it himself, but was running late in the morning, so asked me to bring it later. Which now meant I had to walk it to school, seeing as I had no car. And which I would gladly have done, had I not just been called stupid.
I’m a patient mom, I really am, and I don’t have a problem admitting mistakes, but that’s where I drew the line. At stupid.
A lengthy debate via SMS ensued over who was at fault for what. I’m glad to say that I eventually “won” by getting an apology for the “stupid” comment before delivering the bag. This is a kid who lives to debate and who will never, ever, relinquish the last word. As you can imagine, I was drained of all energy before the morning was even over. Needless to say, I still had to get those boys to the orthodontist, and my car still greets me with a loud beep for faulty brake pads every time I turn it on. Nothing whatsoever for me to check off my long list at the end of the day.
The moral of the story? How about this:
Never schedule car repair and orthodontist appointment on the same day.
Or: If you must debate your teenager, do it via SMS.
What I’d like to know, have you ever been called stupid by your teenager? And what did you do?