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  • Writer's pictureTina

Et tu, Brute!

(Photo taken a few months before The Bean became a full-fledged teenager. i.e., The Golden Years)

This month has been a struggle not to interrupt the regular blog with an emergency Man Blog update. My little buddy, The Bean, has officially become an outwitting teenager. The Tonto has turned on her Lone Ranger. Hans Solo has been shot by his Wookie. The child that stuck with me and fought the good fight against a constant diet of soup. The one who vents to me about her mother beginning with the phrase, "That woman...." My mini me that tells me in the voice of a tiny dictator, "I'm tired of soup! I want something hearty! Soup is not a meal!" has become a turncoat.

A few weeks ago, she lost the privilege of having her phone. The focus on grades has not been focused on grades. Unfortunately, the convenience of communication with said child goes out the window whenever she has no phone. We have a pretty set routine on the farm in the mornings. Before she gets on the bus for school, the three of us triple-check the plan for The Bean's afternoon return. Is she riding the bus home? Are we going to a track meet? Are we picking her up somewhere? The plan for the day is clarified before she leaves the house.

The Bean made a change of plans on the first Friday without the beloved phone in her possession. She decided that she was ill and was not going to track practice. She borrowed a phone from a friend and texted Tina that she would be riding the bus home and not going to track practice. Now, a little back story on Tina and her phone: nine out of ten times, she doesn't have it. Not only does she not have it, most of the time, she doesn't know where it is sitting with 13% battery power left. She will respond to texts days after the fact. If I had to choose one person to call in a life-or-death situation, it would not be Tina. In fact, I would have more confidence in calling a random number for help than my first wife, who is Tina. My chances of survival would improve even if the random number were in a foreign country. Obviously, Tina did not get the text and was surprised at the return of the one who was once the Laverne to her Shirley. Red flag number one, The Bean texted my current wife.

After a few minutes of convincing us that she was sick with a headache, a stomach ache, and her legs were cramping, and that being without her precious phone was a danger to her well-being and personal safety, it was time for rollerblading. I had just finished the awful task of mowing the grass when I sat on the porch with a glass of water and was updated on the current situation. Our child, who was too ill for track practice, was now rollerblading down the driveway without a care in the world. Was she sick? No. Our child wanted to drive home the point she didn't have her phone. We were had. We were sitting at the Blackjack table of life with twenty-one and got hit again. We knew that she knew we had been had. However, it was too late for us to save face or make a recovery. Any attempt at recovery on our part would make it obvious we were losers. We had been outwitted and were too old and too slow to catch on. Et tu, Brute!

The game has begun. My first spark of inspiration was to order a giant Jitterbug phone. A phone that would be the worst social move a junior high student could ever make. A phone that would be instantaneous social suicide for one rollerblading Benedict Arnold. A phone that was covered in glitter and had the phrase Mommy and Daddy Love ME! in big sparkling letters. That way, I could ensure our little snuggle buns would never be without a phone again. Then, I had an even better idea. I believe sometimes the best course of action is to give someone exactly what they want.

I realized that the correct response from us would have been to go into doctor mode. "Oh, you don't feel well, sweetheart? You need bed rest. You need to stay in bed and rest all afternoon. We will bring you soup for dinner." The soup, of course, would be lukewarm water with a bouillon cube. The weekend was starting, and we could have taken her temperature all Saturday and insisted that her color was still off. We could give her an enema or, better yet, laxatives for elephants and laugh as she removes all the toxins from her body for days. More rest for your illness is the cure! "Do you have a headache? Well, you need total calm, no stimulation. You had better turn off the T.V. and rest your eyes." All great ideas, but our window of being on top of things was slammed shut. We couldn't recover from the hand we were dealt this time. All we could do was lick our wounds and admit we were now dealing with a teenager and teenager shenanigans.

When I was younger, my dad had a way of not having to make a bunch of rules but still had the rules followed. I cannot say I remember a hard and set curfew for me. I do know that there was a strong suggestion of when I should return. If the suggestion was not heeded, the next morning started earlier than usual, and solid manual labor would follow all day. Oddly enough, I made the connection even with my not fully developed teenage brain. There was no need for an argument or any confrontation. I stepped in line the next time and made it home by the suggested time without incident. Once, I made the mistake of saying I was bored. The man had pre-gamed. He had a list of chores to fight boredom already written in his wallet to hand to me. After raising two teenagers before me, he knew that the only way to stay sane was to be two steps ahead in any and all scenarios.

It is now my time to carry the torch of outmaneuvering a young blood. It is my time to be two steps ahead and to make things worse until they are better on their own. I will do my best to remain Zen and to seem genuine in my solutions. She may have brought the game of Monopoly into my house, owning all of the real estate, but I am in it for the long haul. I have the patience that comes with age and the sour taste of defeat in my mouth. I hope the title of next month's man blog is not; It Happened Again.

Until then, to those raising teenagers, be patient and enjoy the ride. To those without, your day is coming. To those that have, God bless you. Stay safe and enjoy.

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May 01, 2023

Ah yes, been there, you have my blessings

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