Glimpse: A Teaching Moment

Glimpse: A Teaching Moment

“Mom, can I stay over at Beth’s house tonight?”
“If it’s okay with her parents.”
“Great!  Thanks, Mom.”
“Not so fast, young lady.  Did you receive permission from Beth’s parents to stay overnight?”
“Mom,” her shoulders sighed in total defeat.  “Beth asked me, so of course her parents are okay with it.”
“You asked Beth if it was alright with her parents?”
“Mom, you know that Beth wouldn’t have asked me over if she hadn’t already gotten permission from her parents.”  She shook her head and for a moment looked saddened that her mother could be so unaware of teenage protocol.
Instead of losing her mind and her “cool,” Mom grinned.  “Nice try.”  Then with laughter in her voice, said, “As soon as I hear from Beth’s parents that it is okay with them for you to spend the night, I’ll be glad to consider my options.”
Her daughter gave the steely eyed teenage silent commentary on her mother’s performance.
Her mother smiled and resumed chopping the vegetables for that evening’s dinner.
In a perfect flit her daughter reached for the cell phone and punched in the numbers.  Asked for Beth.  After several “okays”, “yes'” and “sure’s,” she ended the short phone call with, “Okay, tomorrow then.”
Mother remained at her task, not seemingly to be aware of her daughter’s actions.
“Well, I guess it’s a good thing I called, ’cause Beth’s parents said we could do it tomorrow night.  She looked at her mother innocently, as if her mother was totally unaware of the reason why she phoned Beth in the first place.
“Sure is good to check out the story before printing the facts,” said her mother.
“What’s that suppose to mean?” Stated softly but with thirteen-year-old attitude.
“What do you think it means?”  Her mother slowed her hands, and looked up at her daughter.  She had a soft tone to her voice.
“Mom, sometimes you say the dumbest things.  I don’t know what it means.”
“Really?”
“Okay, so maybe it means that I should have asked Beth about her parents before I told you it was alright with them.”
Mom smiled and said, “I just knew you’d figure it out.  What a smart kid.”
“Ah, Mom, you’re no fun.”
“I’m not?”
“No.  You sound just like our school counselor.”

One of the tasks of adolescence is to attain independence.  Often, the task is attempted by the use of mismanaged information.  Manipulation.  Assumption.  Omission.  By not entering into a power struggle with the teenager, the Mom is teaching her daughter how to be successful in achieving independence without losing self-esteem by being dishonest.

Mom bowed and laughed, “Thank you.  I love it when you give me such nice compliments.”
“Mom, it wasn’t meant to be a compliment.”
Smiling, “I know.”
“Jeez, Louise.  I’m out of here.”
“And I know you’ll find a way to have Beth’s parents talk to me before tomorrow night.”  Smiling and calm.
Her daughter stops her exit and says, “I’ll call her mom tomorrow before you leave for work.”
“Thanks, I’d appreciate that.”
Her daughter closed her eyes and sighed,  “Parents can be so difficult.”
“I know.  But we’re worth it.”
Her daughter tried to smother the smile, but couldn’t quite manage as she mumbled, “Right.”

-30-

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