It seems like people are very happy to generalize about “good parents” and “bad parents”, but in my experience it’s quite a bit murkier. So here’s a replay of the past weekend’s situation and if anyone wants to comment, they can tell me if my actions qualify me for the good or bad tag. Honestly, beyond saying that I tried, I’ve got no idea.
So yesterday marked the first kid birthday of the year as HSS@14 became HSS@15. This is the year where I will be living with three teenagers, although I’m not there yet. I had asked the birthday child a week and a half ago if she wanted to do something for her birthday. I know some friends from years past, but as I’m never really sure about the complexities of teenage friendships, I didn’t make any suggestions. I got a mumbled “I don’t know” for an answer. I decided that since I didn’t really want the complexity of figuring it out, I wouldn’t push the issue. I’m guessing this is a point in the bad parent column.
Thursday evening HSS@14 asked if she could go to a sleep over at a friend’s house. I knew this would add complexity to our already complicated weekend, but it seemed like the least I could do to acknowledge her birthday. I went over what would be happening that weekend with her – sleep over, an all afternoon Girl Scout event, Sunday’s church (I may be an atheist, but if she wants to go to church I support her), birthday dinner with the family… there wasn’t too much time to get her homework done, but she assured me she didn’t have too much to do.
I didn't see her after I left for work Friday morning until I picked her up around noon on Saturday. After a very hectic Saturday afternoon of Scout activities, she was playing some sort of Sims game on the Wii Saturday evening. I gently said something about homework, but I didn’t want to push the issue. I had hoped that she got started Saturday evening, but I think that after playing on the Wii she spent too many hours on-line writing/reading fan fiction. Honestly, I needed an evening break on Saturday and after falling asleep in front of the TV I went to bed early without tromping up to the attic to see what was going on. Another mark in the bad parent column.
Sunday morning was not the best with sleep deprivation leading to tears when some computer/technology issues were brought up (falling asleep on the netbook without plugging it in to charge is a battery killer). It was a birthday so I worked to smooth over the issue and get homework started on Sunday around 1 or so. Good parent points, maybe?
I checked that homework was in progress fairly often without hovering over her shoulder Sunday afternoon. After her family birthday dinner & cake, I was assured there wasn’t too much homework left to finish up. I was attempting to get laundry done before the start of the week, so I left it at that. I re-iterated that I needed to go over the homework assignments before bed. I knew she was running late, but it felt heartless to get into one of those discussions on her birthday. By the time I was ready for bed all lights were off in the attic and it seemed wrong to wake a sleep deprived birthday girl to check on homework status.
I decided that I would wake her early on Monday, which I did. Even with an extra 15minutes she was late coming down with her backpack. She couldn’t find her homework assignment sheet. She assured me she had all her homework done. I couldn’t check it versus her assignments, so I don’t really know. I made sure her new assignment sheet for the day was in her folder along with her homework. I spoke fairly sternly about how we keep repeating the same homework disaster. I stopped before she started to cry – doesn’t take much for HSS@15 to cry, I’m telling you.
Good parent, bad parent, what should I do differently, when should I let personal responsibility for a 15 year old kick in? I’m at a loss, so maybe you can tell me.