My thirteen-year-old daughters are leaving a legacy for the other kids. There are some unspoken rules that I've come to respect.
1. When the door is closed to our room and you hear music, please knock.
2. When the door to our room is closed and you don't hear music, please knock.
3. If you hear music and you like it, you're more than welcome to listen… if you sit outside the closed door. Please, don't sing.
4. When we shop for clothes, just leave us to ourselves. We have good taste and a fabulous sense of propriety and modesty. We'll find you when we're ready for you to pay. Please, don't page us again.
5. Thank you for being courteous and prompt when one of our friends telephone. But try not to sound so shocked when you find us still on the phone forty minutes later… at least don't be so dramatic that our friends hear you gasp and fall over in the hall. And stop singing show tunes!
6. We're starving when we get home. And while don't mind rice cakes and pretzels, Mom, you're the one on the diet and we need something more… something more cookie-like?
7. Just because we are straight-A honor roll students, don't expect us to exhibit any academic genius at home. We've got to be total airheads somewhere sometimes.
8. Yes, we still play with B*rb**s, but if you ever print that information again in one of your columns, be prepared to pay. We'll take tens and fives. No make that a crisp twenty since you slipped this one in your column… and take us clothes shopping.
9. An iPod is nothing like a tripod, trust us, Mom… and get us one each.
10. Chores. We'll get to them. We're not on the same timetable that you are. When the things on our bedroom floor reach hip-level, then we'll clean.
For better or for worse, the teen years are coming for all my kiddos. For now, I'll just enjoy them as they are —
"Momma! JD won't give me my truck back!"
"No, it's not! GIVE IT BACK NOW!" (Whack!)
The youngest bursts into tears and comes running. He cleaves to my leg. Maybe it won't be so bad when these two lock themselves up in their room and blare their music.
"Give me the truck," I tell them, and up it goes on the refrigerator with several other confiscated items. Suddenly they are best friends. Just in time for the teens to barrel in the door, bickering. Rule #11 — Let them work it out.
So, I turn on my stereo to drown them out. I have no idea who they get that from.