Get a Fish

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All I ever really wanted was a puppy.

They are cute.  And adorable.

What I have is a demanding, complaining, 150 pound (and growing), consumer.  He is 16 and he won’t keep a hold of his ping pong ball.

You see – my teenage son and I – we are playing a rather exciting game of ping pong right now.  He owns the actual ping pong ball.  I have plenty of ping pong balls of my own so I do not need another one.  He keeps trying to hit his ball over to my side of the table.  I bounce it back over.  He quickly returns.  I try and keep it going in his direction.  Try as I might he won’t just take the dang stupid stinking ball already.  I keep trying to explain to him, “This is your ball dear!  Your ball!  You must take it.  TAKE IT!!!”

I will explain it to you the way I explained it to him.

You have a baby.  You protect that baby.  From everything.  The baby gets older.  You still try and protect him from just about everything with the occasional allowance for a natural consequence thrown in.  Maybe you let him play with the kitchen drawers knowing he will smash his fingers.  He learns how not to smash his fingers.  The baby gets older and older.  Ideally, natural consequences start outnumbering parental protection.  Some parents are better at this than others.  I would say that Paul and I have been fairly mediocre.

That baby is now wanting to drive and date and go to New York.  He is now a consumer.  He is no longer a puppy.  I got pregnant because I wanted babies.  Babies turn into consumers.  Nobody told me that.  I never once heard the word consumer.  Why doesn’t anyone tell anyone these important facts?  Back to the ping pong game.

The natural result or consequence to wanting to drive a car is money.  You gotta have money.  Money for gas.  Money for insurance.  Money.  The consumer needs money.  That is his ping pong ball.  Not mine.  And darn it all if he doesn’t want to keep giving that ball to me.  I have even taken to carrying a ping pong paddle around with me.

“Mom.  Can’t you just drive me to blah blah blah so I can blah blah blah?”   Paddles at the ready.

“Mom.  I need to get on your computer account so I can blah blah blah.”  Paddles up and swinging.

“Mom.  Mom.  Mom.”  Paddles ladies!  Paddles!!!

I explained it.  I prayed and hugged and loved.  I keep explaining and praying and loving. And he keeps asking me the exact same questions over and over again.  Frustrated.  At me.


Not himself.  Not even the economy (everyone’s favorite) or the weather (that he will have to ride his bike through to get anywhere) or some unseen powerful force out to destroy all teenage fun.

I gave that ball one more shot over the net a moment ago.  He has now set out on his bike through wind and sand and sun to find a job against all odds and the fun destroying powers of the universe.

And now I will raise my voice to all women everywhere!

A puppy is only a puppy for 2 seconds.  You may want to consider a fish.


~ by pandmcox on October 4, 2011.

11 Responses to “Get a Fish”

  1. Oh the joys of being the parent. My 15 year old daughter loves to play ping pong. No matter how I serve it she loves to return the dang ball. Her returns get harder as time goes by, too. I love your posts! Keep smilin’

    • I KNOW!!!! it does not matter how i hit that ball back! a fake to the left, up high, down and out to the corner….

      thanks teresa! i’m smilin’….:):):)

  2. This is brilliantly written. It is so true! I love babies. I had lots and lots of babies!! Do you know how many consumers I’m going to have on missions and in college at the same time??? I’m running an animal shelter and am sorely lacking funds……… I need to have a fund raiser.

    • rachel!!! friend-o-mine!!! i love it when you call me brilliant! it is my very most favoritest word. 🙂

      an animal shelter. i like it. yes. although a zoo would get more attention and probably more funds….you might consider that… j could be the monkey. 🙂

      babies are so sweet. sigh……………..

  3. Love the play on words here. Ladies, we come single fisted, double fisted, heck if we could strap a paddle on our feet we’d do that too. No matter the grip or the swing we all get tired toward the end of the game. Even our parenting doubles matches are no match for these consumers lol!

  4. Yeah – I remember that period. The key is this word: “No.” I said it a million times and nobody died. People stormed and slammed doors and pitched fits. I did explain. And I explained every time, every dang time. You want to be very careful of saying, “As long as I am paying . . . ” or “As long as you live under my roof . . . ” as some people do, because that puts ideas into the young heads. Do remember that between the ages of 11 and 26, the brain (considered adolescent now until that age of 26) is actually rewiring itself from back to front. And the last bit to be rewired is the frontal lobe. I want you to google all of this. Especially the frontal lobe part – see what that love is responsible for and you will understand that you do, in fact, still have a puppy. The cuddly stage for puppies, by the way, is about a couple of weeks. After that, puppies explore, chew, cry all night, and urinate all over your carpets. Fish have to be cleaned up all the time, too – and stink just as badly.

    The consequences thing is what you must not ever weary of. Because only running nose first into a wall is going to get through to an adolescent male brain. To the question:
    “Don’t you trust me?” Answer: No. i don’t even trust myself. Why would I trust a person with half an active brain and almost no life experience?

    “Why can’t I?” answer – “Can you see the (stick in name of friends/ neighbor’s house a couple of streets away) house from here? You can’t? Why can’t you? Oh, because there’s stuff in the way? Because it’s too far away? Because the trees obscure the view? Yeah. That’s why – because you imagine this wonderful thing is – over there somewhere – but you can’t really see the path to it, so you don’t know what it could cost you to find – what you can’t even see is real.” Okay, stupid answer, but you get it.

    You have to call a spade a spade with teenagers. You have to speak the truth. You name their feeling before they speak it – (I know you think I’m mean. I know you’re frustrated. I know you think this – ) You can do that. You are sensitive enough, Misty, intelligent enough and verbal enough to be one step ahead (not everybody is, believe me). When you name the feeling first and get it right, it disarms them. I did it all the time as a teacher and again as a parent. They can’t help trusting you when you can see them. Which doesn’t pre-clude fit-pitching and sometimes inspires it. Teenagers like to be the owners of their own drama.

    but he does need a job. He needs to do it, slog through it, be there when he’s scheduled – he needs to pay for what he wants with inconvenience, boredom, sweat, obedience and humility. If he doesn’t, he’ll never grow up, and he’ll keep expecting you to pay for him. I’ve seen it too dang many times.

    So. Ummm. I guess i left a comment. But I haven’t heard from YOU in ages. Just sayin’ –

    • you know if i were there – across the street – i would have headed over and you would have said all of this to me in person. and i would have gotten a hug out of it. and your eyes.

      but i guess that is beside the point. kind of. i do miss your eyes when you talk to me like this.

      thank you. and yes. you left a comment. now i will go and do likewise! 🙂 well…not EXACTLY likewise. my comments usually go something like this:

      i love you!!!!!

  5. Misty, I love it! Keep it coming. You’re one step ahead of me so I’m grateful to have a little heads up.
    Kristen, wonderful comment.

  6. Ha. Ha. Ha. Aren’t teenagers fun?

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