Friday, January 9, 2015

The Dreaded List

Do you remember when you were a teenager, and how screwed up your sleep schedule would get over the summer, or even Christmas break?
(Assuming you had parents that allowed that to happen.)
As a teenager, I was at my happiest when my mother worked full time.
This meant she wasn't around to tell me what to do.
Like get out of bed.
She had magic powers, of course, and still was able to maintain control over her kingdom from afar.
Once I would drag my lazy butt upstairs (my sister Kris and I had the pleasure of sharing a bedroom in the basement.  More about that in a minute) there would ALWAYS be a list.
Did you grow up with "lists?"
I hated the list.
There were always several items that we house slaves were to have completed by the time she got home for lunch.
We always saved the "fold clothes" job until 11:00, when "The Young and the Restless" came on.
And we would drag those couple of baskets of clothes out for the entire hour.
Actually, it was more like we would sit and watch TV until we heard her car, and then yell "O crap!  Mom's home!  Pretend you are busy!!"
This was often accompanied by
"Oh crap!  Hide your pepsi!!"
(We weren't allowed to drink pop without permission.)
Now that I think about it...I don't think we were allowed to do anything without permission.
Except clean, of course.
My sister Kris was the keeper of the peace.  She was also a very good "list completer."  I would often bribe her with whatever I could come up with to get her to do my jobs too.
(To this day, she lives in a spotless home.  We don't need to talk about mine.  We all know about my housekeeping skills.)
She also knew how to get along with mom.
Smile, nod, don't talk back, do what you are told, play the "mother is always right" game.
I, on the other hand, chose a different philosophy.
Smirk, cock your head to one side, be sassy, do the opposite of what you are told, and play the "you just try to get me to do that" game.
I will admit, I did not find a lot of success with my method.
As I mentioned, Kris and I shared a room.
Up until I was in 8th grade, we lived in a big old farm house, were we all had our own rooms.  Then we moved to the farm where my grandparents had lived.  My parents renovated it a little bit, turned three small bedrooms into two, and in the basement, put up some walls, and created a bedroom, living room and bathroom.  
Not only did I have to share a room during the time in my life when I REALLY wanted to be left alone, and have some privacy...but my parents decided to buy us a bedroom set too.  With a queen sized bed.
Seriously?!  What were they thinking?
So, I went into high school, sharing a bed with my little sister.
It wasn't awful, but the fact that we were complete opposites when it came to sleep/wake habits made it challenging.
I liked to stay up late reading.....which meant the light mounted on the bookcase over the bed kept her awake at night.
She liked to get up early...and every morning she would start organizing her stuff for the day in plastic grocery bags. (She still LOVES organizing her bags....but she has moved on from plastic.) I would be trying to sleep, and she would turn on the lights, and be rustling non-stop in those damn bags.
We drove each other nuts.

She was perky in the morning....I was a disaster.
(This has not changed.)
Emily is 8 years younger than I am...and when I look back, I barely remember her place in all of this.  Her bedroom was upstairs, and I tended to just hibernate in my basement cave.  I only went upstairs to eat and play the piano.
Her role was to sit on the steps when we had our boyfriends over and be as annoying as she possibly could.  
(My mother would send her down to "babysit" us.)
It was effective.
I totally do the same thing when my daughter has her boyfriend over.
My poor son....he has been the third wheel during so many of their movies, and even some dates!
What made me think of all of this, is the fact that I haven't changed a bit.
I still do the same things.
I stay up late at night reading (only now it's my husband who is dealing with the light keeping him awake.)
Luckily, he has no desire to rustle around with plastic bags in our bedroom in the morning.  (He probably knows I would smother him with one if he did.)
I am pretty sure that if someone tried my mother's approach to "getting me to do something" on reaction would be exactly the same.
In fact, when Mark goes into "teacher mode" or "parent mode" on me...I slip right back into "teenager mode."
Complete with crossed arms, eye rolling, sassy back-talk, and doing exactly the opposite of what he just told me to do.
Because I don't need someone telling me what to do, thank you very much!
(I prefer being asked.)
And daughter reacts exactly the same way I do.
And it makes me crazy.

I have also found in the very few times he has ever raised his voice at me that I turn right back into that insecure little girl who lived with a mom that liked to yell.  Isn't it interesting how you never really let go of certain things from your past?
I had never really heard him yell before, and one day I had him come with me when I had the entire 6, 7, and 8th grade choirs together in one room for a big concert thing I was doing.  As expected, they were all wound up, and soooo loud.
My voice is not intimidating, nor does it carry over the volume of 200 kids, so I asked him if he could try to quiet them down for me.
What came out of that guy's mouth shut them up all right...and I had to take a moment, because he literally scared me half to death.
I made a little pact with myself that day to never get him really mad at me.
So, to summarize, all I want is to be able to stay up as late as I want, sleep in as late as I want, have no one ever tell me what to do, never get yelled at by anyone, never be bothered while I'm sleeping, and never have to deal with a middle school choir again.
I mean really, is this too much to ask?
If you don't mind, I would like to add:
Get paid to stay at home and do stuff.
"Stuff" being defined as: whatever I come up with that day.
Or: nothing.
I am pretty sure you would agree that that is a beautiful job description.
I will let you know when I find a company that will pay me to do that.
I'm sure it will be any day now.

But, for now, I must trudge through wind and snow, and pick up my children, who have deemed themselves too fragile for the bus.
Oh yes....30 minutes on the bus=a headache, pure crankiness, and utter misery.
And those are just MY symptoms after they arrive home!

As I continue to take baby steps toward my goals...I will add "learn how to be a grown up, aka: quit the teenage tendencies" to my list.
In other words, I will try to go to bed at a decent hour tonight, and see if I can be more productive tomorrow.
Have a great Friday!

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