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Challenge: Perfectly Imperfect Parenting

The Good Wifi

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Have you a seventeen-year-old? Are you experiencing the same growing pains that we are? Nine out of ten parents agree that the terrible-seventeens are very real. Boundaries? Never heard of them. Consequences? What are they? An answer for everything? God bless America, yes!

Please send wine.

Exhibit A: This is the note I send to his school’s attendance office this week.


In days long gone by, I typically softened my notes of tardiness as it was such a rarity. I may have even made up something worthy of a child being late, such as an isolated power blip. No such luck on this day on which brutal honesty prevailed. Not that we aren’t typically a truth-focused family, but on this day, I ran out of that delicious sugar coating.

The reality is, my child is tardy most days. Typically only a few minutes, just late enough for the “your child was marked absent” note to auto-send yet not late enough to miss classmate safety net. It turns out there is an underground door-holding network on standby to let the late kids in via a side door, thus eliminating the latecomers’ need to pass by the watchful eyes of the attendance office.

They may be tardy, but they are also resourceful.

The response from the attendance office, by the way, was something like “BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! This made my day.” Apparently, my child wasn’t even the last one to show up that day. Please give these educators a raise immediately.

These are challenging times for parents of baby adults. The good news is that we know we are not alone. Attempting to find sympathy from others? Look no further! No, actually, stop. Every time we share our tales with those in the same life stage, we hear a unanimous cry of “Oh, yes, it’s like they are all reading the same manual.” I suppose the difference between our first and second child is that version two is more vocal in his opinion on topics of inconvenience (like being on time for school).

Our current hope is that he becomes a lawyer with his passion to convince those around him that he really should be able to stroll in on a whim. It is not unlike the argument presented on why it really isn’t necessary to turn in all of his assignments.

Look, I get it. I know that my seventeen-year-old child knows way more than I could ever hope to. I know I shouldn’t burden him with my heavy parental suggestions (What if you got up earlier? Or used an agenda?). In fairness, we do ask a lot of those who live within our home (Dishes IN the dishwasher. Laundry put away at least once a quarter). No really, that’s about it. We don’t ask for much.

Still “not much” is “too much” for this child.

The conversation on assignments, tests, and all things school related is heavy this, his junior year. I blame this on the eleven years of conditioning that “this is the year that counts.” This is the year colleges will look at most closely. This is the year not to shit the bed in that room we’d like to be kept fairly clean. This is the year of the grade point average that your next school will be most interested in. On the flip side, it’s JUNIOR YEAR. We thought were done paying ANY attention to our child’s grades. JUNIOR YEAR. At seventeen, you shouldn’t need an adult to tell you that you’re missing thirteen assignments and that those missing thirteen assignments are the combined cause of three classes dropping multiple grade levels, right? Right.

Exhibit B: As we approach the end of the school year, we are here:


During our second teacher meeting, I really wanted to ask, “So, is this just your life? Early meetings with parents in hopes of getting their kids back into the game?” God Bless these educators. Because Zack opted for an especially difficult track to wrap up his grade school career, he is finding that there is very little leeway for late or shoddy work. We had suggested that he really, really measure the frog before he agreed to eat it, but here we are.

On the second conference, we learned that our child had three major assignments due upon return from spring break that he had yet to even begin. Assignments that were laid out back in November with suggested benchmarks, were all ignored. Our child is a stubborn one, holding firm to his belief that he should be able to turn in completed projects with no supporting work. This is not new - this “I shouldn’t have to show my work” mantra goes back to second grade.

Our response to this gem was something like, “Oh shite, we are going to be on a cruise that week!

The response? “Hope you got the good wifi!

Welp. Seventeen, am I right?

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