Sam Cooke once sang, “Summertime and the living is easy.” He must have had teens. He must have weathered the “end of the school year” bedraggled blues. How else could he sing those words with such feeling–such prophecy? His soulful voice lures us in; high cotton, jumping fish, and easy living…..
But first, we have to survive these last few weeks of school, of homework, of nagging, of exhaustion. This is the time of year that every student, parent and teacher both praises and curses. It is the home stretch of a school year when patience is thinner than pond ice in the springtime and tempers flare like cheap fireworks. It is the time of year mothers (and perhaps fathers) ask why they didn’t eat their young when they had the chance. It’s the time when “higher reasoning” ceases to separate adult from child–everyone just wants to live easy.
As evidence, I share with you the conversation I had with my teen this past Saturday. The “teen speak” has been translated for those not yet fluent.
Me: Can you believe we are in the home stretch of the school year? (My not so subtle ice breaker.)
Teen: I guess. (Translation: Do we really have to talk about this so early this morning?)
Me: Hey, don’t you have some homework this weekend? (Yes, leading question and a poor attempt at sounding casual, but it was already past 11.)
Teen: I know. (Translation: Not even subtle and you just put homework and weekend in a sentence together–LAME!)
Me: Were you planning on starting it soon? (Yes, leading, again.)
Teen: I guess. (Translation: Uh no, I wasn’t planning on it, so no not really.)
Me: Don’t wait until the last minute. It’ll be a lot easier if you get it out-of-the-way today so you can enjoy the rest of the weekend. (Translation: I don’t want to police you ALL weekend.)
Teen: I knoooooow. (Eyes rolling–no translation needed)
Me: You know I want your homework done before anything else. No movies, no cell, no anything. (Translation: You’re pushing my buttons, Miss Sassy Pants!)
Teen: I know. (Contrite tone. Translation: Will you leave me alone now?)
Me: If you know, why am I not seeing any effort made? (Yes, I know–this is a no win question. Apparently she did, too.)
Me: Do you really know? Because if it’s not done, you lose everything. I’m not going to nag. (Disregard that I am, in fact, nagging at this point.)
Teen: (silence) (Teens are really good at “Stand-Off” games. Just be warned.)
Me: Are you listening? (At this point, I’m pretty sure neighbors were listening.)
Teen: Okaaaaay! (Translation: Are we done now?)
Me: I can’t believe we are doing this dance again! Do you understand how serious I am? (Of course, I can believe we are doing this again–it’s our regular “homework tango.”)
Teen: I guess. (Translation: Uh, ya–seriously messing up my Saturday morning!)
Me: I don’t think you do. I think I am the only that really cares here! (At this point, I honestly don’t think I cared, but I wasn’t about to let her see, or give in.)
Teen: Noooo. Jeeesh. (Translation: You care enough for a whole stupid village! None of my other friends have to put up with this!)
Me: Are you at all concerned about getting this done? (Back to a leading question.)
Teen: I guess. (Translation: Will that get you off my back? Please!)
Me: You guess! YOU GUESS! Is that all you have to say? (I admit–I had run out of ammo.)
Teen: I don’t know. (She had run out of ammo, too.)
(Long pause of silence on both parts.)
Teen: Can I go now? I have to get my homework done. (Translation: Almost summer, almost summer, almost summer!)
Me: Sure, honey. Would you like me to fix you something to eat? (Translation: Almost summer, almost summer, almost summer!)
Sadly , it seems conversations like this comprise the bulk of our dialogues this time of year. Just yesterday afternoon, as I reminded my darling daughter to (once again) finish off some homework, I received a very forlorn, beaten puppy, “Okaaaaay” in response. I know that, like me, she is running out of steam and is just hanging on by her fingertips.
We may think it’s the heat that makes for lazy days in summer, but really it’s the hard-earned reward for parents and children. Schedules ease up, lemonade and watermelon become staples in the fridge, swimsuits are the daily uniform and time goes unmonitored. It is that time that celebrates the closing of one school year and re-fuels us for the next.
I trust Sam Cooke when he promises, “Summertime and the living is easy.” I also believe him as he sings, “One of these mornings, you’re going to rise up singing. Then you’ll spread your wings and take to the sky.”
That is, of course, if I don’t push both teens out of the nest before this school year is over. 🙂
Set to the fabulous stylings of Sam Cooke’s “Summertime”, here is a sneak peek at summer for the bedraggled: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWmGAR4_jRg