Reasonable Expectations of a Teenage Son

An Ode to the Eye Roller

I am a reasonable human. What I ask and expect is so small, so piddly. My familial desires are quite mundane…and yet, and yet. Each time one is voiced or expected it seems that what I’ve uttered is the most unimaginable, unintelligible, and unreasonable thought, request, plea that any human has ever put forth into the universe. Well. I’ve. Got. News. For. You.

It is not unreasonable for a mother to not want her house to smell like a sewage treatment plant due to the foul filth that penetrates the air coming directly from your bathroom.

It is not unreasonable for me to ask you to clean a bedroom that currently smells like the inside of a gas station urinal…not the inside of a gas station bathroom mind you, but the inside of a gas station urinal.

It is not unreasonable for me to feel and express anger when the beautiful clothes that your grandmother bought you, an entire wardrobe, is covered with black mold and full of holes due to the MONTHS that they stayed wet and dirty in the now also moldy two canvas hampers that are ruined as well.

It is not unreasonable for me to ask you to take part in the college application process. I can do certain things, fill out paper work, find a way to pay the fees, but I can’t get your references, can’t decide where you want to go, can’t study for the SAT’s and ACT’s for you. It is not unreasonable to ask you to do those things…in a timely manner. Which brings me to…

It is not unreasonable for me to remind you of deadlines and due dates for homework, college applications, job schedules, bills, for anything for that matter. If you don’t want a reminder, start showing me that you are responsible enough to remember and stick to those deadlines.

It is not unreasonable for me to want you to return phone calls and the like. It isn’t unreasonable. It is called courtesy my dear, courtesy. It is NOT unreasonable for me to expect that you will be courteous to others. If you are expected to be some place, then you should be there. If you can’t make it, then people expect notification. It is courteous. If you have been hired to work somewhere, it is absolutely necessary that you WORK. That you call for your schedules. That you show up on time. I don’t care if the job is at a famous fast food place that you believe is beneath you. If the employer has put her time and energy into checking references, training you, working around your schedule, it is not unreasonable to be disappointed, no…absolutely disgusted..that you didn’t follow through and let a perfectly good job slip through your fingers. And THIS would be a logical time to transition to…

It is not unreasonable to expect you to have a part time job. You have a car, a car that I made clear was your responsibility if you went ahead and got it, a car that needs gas and oil and insurance. Life is not about sitting around doing what you want when you want where you want. Gamer points on the Xbox, internet surfing, texting the girlfriend will not make you any needed cash. If you are going to take on responsibilities like a car, you have to work for them.

It is not unreasonable for me to think that an 18 year old son remember his parents on a holiday like Christmas. I am not talking about monetary or material things, but a thought, a sign that you understand that the holiday is for giving not just for taking, for appreciating those who have sacrificed and loved you all year round.

And…on that note, I don’t think it was unreasonable for me to cry upon realizing that you took but didn’t give and did so without a trace of a guilty conscience. There are moments when even the most giving moms just need to know that they are appreciated.

It is not unreasonable for me to expect that you will not yell and bellow, if not out of respect for me, then for your 2 year old sister’s sanity and safety. And for that matter…

It is not unreasonable for me to feel protective of a toddler when you bully and explode. It certainly doesn’t mean that she is “my favorite” as you claim. It means that she is helpless and in need of my protection as you once were.

It is not unreasonable for me to get angry with your lack of consideration when you eat a whole week’s worth of grocery snacks and drinks in two days, or when you devour the next night’s dinner during a secretive covert food mission in the middle of the night. It is not unreasonable after numerous ignored portion control requests to then have to hide some of the food so that this mother who is on a fixed budget can make sure that the others in the house can eat as well. And speaking of fixed budgets…

It is not unreasonable for me to feel utter bafflement and frustration at your insistence and constant anger over our current financial situation. You have never gone without. You have all you need. Your wants…well, yes they’ve been put on the backburner, as have your step-father’s, your sister’s and your mother’s. Wants are scarce when you live in a one income family. Many families are pinching pennies. I am happy about that? No. But it is reality. And so…instead of bellyaching over how your life is ruined, it isn’t unreasonable to expect that perhaps you let the guilt routine go to ease the burden that this mom feels, and maybe even get a job to finance those things you WANT. Oh but I already mentioned the job thing haven’t I?

It is NOT unreasonable to expect respect; a respectful tone, respectful words, respectful actions, respect. After all, I am your mother. It is reasonable for a mother to want some modicum of respect from her child. Not reverence. Not worship. Not all powerful deference. Just some simple respect.

But most of all,

It is not unreasonable to hope against all hope that someday you will grow out of your self-centeredness, your tendency to feel entitled, your almighty attitude. And, if for some reason those things don’t, can’t or won’t happen then I guess you’d agree that it wouldn’t be unreasonable for me to hope that your eyes freeze in place so that you can no longer roll them.


Logan Fisher

Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s MotherhoodEye on EducationFaces, and Appleseed.

[Photo credit: (ccl) slworking2]

8 Comments on “Reasonable Expectations of a Teenage Son

  1. Love it…as I always do! You write my thoughts perfectly!!

  2. As I used to tell my boys, you don’t want to be known as the “stinky boy” and when they were cocooning on the couch watching crap on TV, I would let them know that they could never ever use drugs since they were already rotting their brains. If your son goes to college, his roommates will get on his case about the smells and the trail of mess and the eating of their stuff without permission.
    Hopefully he is now responsible for his own laundry and if he has his own bathroom, for cleaning it. Show him once how and then he is on his own. If he doesn’t do it, because it is your house, there should be consequences.
    Still didn’t get Xmas presents from my guys this year. BUT, my second son was able to clean my house when the cleaning lady got sick and he did a great job. The first son gives me neck rubs which are fantastic. Neither has a paying job yet. They do their own laundry and now ask before eating all the stuff in the fridge. It does get better.

  3. Isolda, the most important thing I have learned by raising my two teen boys is to make sure that your children don’t see you as a body that houses a human put on the earth just to do THEIR bidding. It entitles them. Instead, it is important for them to learn at a very early age that you are a human being who, while loving them, has many other dimensions.

  4. Courageous piece. Every mother of every teen shares many of these frustrations with me. As the mother of a 7 year old boy, is there anything you would advise me to do for the next six years to help curb some of these tendencies? Of course I understand some of this is natural, or at least culturally-defined as natural, but I’d be thankful for any advice from more experienced parents.

    Hang in there!

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