Pre-teens are the most annoying humans on the planet. See how I just jumped right in there, no segue, no anecdotes? I used to use the word ‘fuck’ a lot, but since this new AF (meaning AS FUCK) has been invented by millenials or whomever, I use that all the time. I love it. So, pre-teens are annoying AS FUCK. Sorry, AF. And the reason why is: you know they know better. That’s it, that’s the whole explanation. Small children are being taught and can’t be expected to know or remember things that are new to them and well, everything is new to them because they’ve only been on the planet a few years, right? But what about twelve year olds?
The answer is: Junior high. Middle school. Whatever you call it, is the absolute worst time in a child’s life. Think back to your worst experiences in childhood, I am willing to bet the majority of them happened in middle school. Things get a little wacky when you’re under a year short of teenagedom. And (thank god for science) there are actual reasons for it. There is brain science behind why kids this age do what they do. If you want to read about the developmental growth of the brain and its ramifications, there’s a great article in Live Science that lays it out very plainly for you here: https://www.livescience.com/13850-10-facts-parent-teen-brain.html (I like this article especially because Live Science updated it when new information became available and it’s in simple slide format).
Knowing that it is his brain, and not him just being a jerk really helps how I deal with the one thousandth dirty sock I find on the living room floor. Also, winter is tough because you can’t send them outside for a few hours so your own brain can relax for a couple of hours. We currently live in a tiny apartment and it feels crowded, especially coming from a huge apartment where everyone had their own rooms and space.
My new parenting hack is just simple, quiet discussion. His phone is in another room. The tv is off and there’s just he and I talking in a low, relaxed voice. Don’t smirk, this has been working.
Me: “I want you to be happy and comfortable when you get home and finish your homework. How can I help you do that?”
Khev: “Let me play my game.”
Me: “Ok. Now you ask me the same question.”
Khev: (rolls eyes, giggles) How can I help you, um.. be happy when you get home from work?”
Me: “You can help me be happy and comfortable by checking for things that belong to you around the house and making sure the floors including in your room are clear. No socks, random slippers or sneakers, coat and hoodie hung up, stuff like that. Then when I walk in and I don’t see those things strewn around, I breathe a sigh of relief. Then you say to me, mom, I checked all the floors and made sure everything was put away. Can I play my game now? And I’ll say, sure hon, go ahead. No yelling. No accusing you of being inconsiderate not caring about anyone but yourself because I had to walk into a house that’s a mess. I’ll feel like, hey, Khev does care about me. Does that make sense to you?”
Me: “How long do you think that will take you to do each day?”
Khev: (standard teen answer) “I dunno.” I give him the ‘come on’ head tilt. ” Uh, like 5 minutes or something? Or 10?”
Me: “In this apartment more like 3 minutes but anyway you get the idea. I’ll remind you at first but then I’m going to expect you to make it a habit and do it without being nagged.”
Khev: “Ok. Can I play my game now?”
Sigh. Don’t believe people when they say you’re gonna miss this time. You miss lots of times in your child’s life when they are finally adults and on their own but this age? Not one of those times!