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Thursday, July 26, 2007

OTM vs The Tweenager

What should have taken about fifteen minutes tops turned into a four-hour chore for my twelve year old son...

Late last evening I stepped outside to put some pork chops on the grill when I noticed my husband pulling weeds out of a pile of pea gravel next to our sad little excuse for a garage. I noticed him and then noticed Patrick the Tweenager shooting hoops about three-feet from his working father.

"Hey, you!" I shouted, "Get over there and help your dad get those weeds out of there so we can move the gravel elsewhere."

Patrick the Tweenager stopped dribbling just long enough to toss a smirky grin my way and then flippantly replied, "Helllllo, Mom, I'm working on my lay-ups." Dribble, dribble, dribble.

Oh, no he didn't.

Heads up shout-out to all readers: This One Tough Mother doesn't "do" smirky and/or flippant. Let's just say he was pulling weeds pretty quickly after. But here's the deal, he wouldn't shut-up while doing so. It was "stupid" this and "Stupid Ricky (a/k/a his older brother) never does anything" that, and I heard myself say once, then twice, "Patrick, close your mouth and just do your job."

Sigh. He no understand One Tough Mother-ish.

So he spouted off one more time and I clearly dictated the following: "If you open your mouth one more time to say absolutely anything you will be hauling the gravel out from this spot over to the other side of the garage where your father and I want it--by yourself. One more word and Ricky won't be helping. One more word and you'll guarantee a two to three hour work day for yourself bright and early tomorrow."

He no even try to understand One Tough Mother-ish.

I believe the word, his last word, was "Ooooooo."

And so it went.

"Congratulations, you just succeeded in creating a mountain out of a mole hill and I shall be waking you up at 8:00 am to complete the remainder of this task." He sulked-- Tweenager style--to his room (i.e. slammed the back porch door, muttered incoherently, slammed his bedroom door, muttered incoherently) and I didn't see his sulky face for another nine hours. (Thank you, Jesus!)

Now, here's the moral of the story. The "Ripley's Believe it or Not" wrap-up, if you will. I awoke said Tweenager at 7:45 am the following morning. He got out of bed. Ate a bowl or two of cereal and then went outside and did the remainder of his work.

Sans complaint.
Sans arguing.
Sans snarky adolescence snit of attitude.

And while Patrick the Tween would never admit this aloud, I know it to be true: he knew exactly who he was dealing with--One Tough Mother--and decided it just wasn't worth the effort to go against her.

So too your children as you firmly step up and be the One Tough Mother your children need and your sanity requires.


  1. Hey Julie,
    I have been being the OTM, but sometimes I get so tired. Right now the kids are fighting over the remote. When I told them I'll turn it off, they switched to argueing about who's fault it is if it gets turned off. All the while taking turns yelling Mommmm!
    I just want 5min. (I say this, like 50 times every afternoon.)(If I turn it off I for sure won't get 5 min., so t.v. is the sitter for now.)

    Send some prayers my way Julie. I'm just hangin on....I'm sure once they're asleep I'll feel better and probably guilty. Just a snapshot, most days are pretty good. Some are amazing and a few blessed.
    Thanks for keeping it real.

  2. I think I am not understanding your methods, Julie. They sound a little harsh.

    ~Miss Roxie

  3. Miss Roxie,

    Trust me, nothing too harsh going on here on the OTM home-front. Fact is, Patrick was only outside working that following morning for about sixteen minutes when his older brother, Ricky, asked me if he could help him out. (I suspected he would do as much before he offered.)


    So, out went Ricky and I watched as Patrick looked up, watched Ricky grab a shovel, and then beamed as they both made quick work of a rather small plot of pea-gravel.

    Thanks for commenting!

  4. Hi Julie,
    I am new to your blog, but am currently reading "Exquisite Hope", "Scandalous Grace", AND "Motherhood: The Guilt That Keeps On Giving" Yes, I can multi-task with the best of them!!! Anyway, I, too, have a Tweenager and just want to say "YES" to the One Tough Mother club. I'm not alone, and my son now knows he's not along either. Yes, there is another 12 year old boy out there who feels his pain. Anyway, I thank God for leading me to your books, this site, and the Hope you bring to mother's like me everywhere. Now I know I'm not so crazy afterall!

    God bless,
    Miss Elisa

  5. I have a tweenager too. I've been searching for a way to stop the snarky snit attitude - and hopefully, I've found one! I can't wait to try it, and with a tween, I'm sure I won't have to wait too long....

    Thanks Julie, for being real - and letting us know we are not alone!