I would have ruled this world too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!
Saturday, April 02, 2005


By Ericka Lyle Menendez

Dedicated to the Viking King.....whom I think has managed to pull a most elaborate and shockingly real April Fools' Day joke on me. Its a joke, I hope.

If you've been a teenager for awhile, you've probably already discovered the direct correlation of getting good grades to the amount of freedom that you have. It doesn't take too long to realize that good behavior seems to have the effect of earning a lot of trust from your parent(s). This is why the majority of teenagers are usually pretty good kids.

One of the most common mistakes teenagers make about their parents......if they have a liberal and lenient parent, they automatically assume the terms "Liberal" and "No Rules" are one and the same and they can just do anything they want. The saavy teen quickly learns that most parents operate on degrees of liberalism and that it is not wise to keep pushing a parent beyond what they are comfortable with.

Nobody expects perfection from teens...but certain things ARE expected of them, nonetheless. Among these expectations is something called "Agreement". Some Agreeements carry more weight than others. For example, you might make an Agreement to meet your parent at the Food Court in the mall by 4:00....but let's say you lose track of time and show up at 4:45. Yeah, you HAVE made a mistake. Your parent might be annoyed and you might have to hear some "nagging".....but generally this kind of "Agreement Failure" is a non-event.

Then there are other Agreements that are much more important. These usually involve things like......say, calling a parent when you are allowed to go out of town overnight to let them know where you are staying. This kind of Agreement is non-negotiable. It. is. Parental. Law. Teens who have experieced a failure of this type of Agreement before will tell you that there is no way you're NOT going to get in some kind of trouble. "Yep, you're probably going to get some restriction time and some nagging out of that one, for sure. But hey, betcha don't forget to call next time, huh?"

Some restriction.
Some nagging.
And then its over.

So how does a somewhat routine "Agreement Failure" escalate from a nagging restriction to a full scale dramatic episode with screaming, tears, lost sleep and lost trust? Let us look at some of the ways you could take an unhappy episode and turn it into a landmark Nasty Encounter:

1.Demand to know why the stupid rules are so important, anyway. Continue to repeat asking why at least 12 to 21 times, getting louder each time. This is much more impressive if you have an audience listening, also.
2. Ask your parent why, if they care sooooo much, why they didn't realize they could have just [insert your solution] to solve the problem? Refuse to listen or understand when the parent replies "I guess I could have, but that was not our AGREEMENT."
3. Declare that you are not coming home and cannot be made to. This tends to kick the drama level up 5 to 10 notches.
4. Call the parent a choice name or two.
5. When you do go home, point out all the things you hate about your parent, like maybe they never have enough money and that they never have all the housework done. Make sure to mention all the things you know your parent feels bad about and worries over.
6. If the parent has ever made a mistake, call it out and smash their face in it. After all, parents are supposed to be perfect people, right?
7. Get your boyfriend/girlfriend to throw in a few smart-alecky opinions.
8. And if you are feeling particularly dangerous.....go ahead and tell your parent they are too lenient, because you already know they worry if they are doing a good enough job of parenting.... telling them that will really be a blow to their confidence.

When you try any or all of the statements above, you will achieve not just a steaming pot, you will get a bubbling cauldron.

Here's what you are guaranteed:

1. Hey, at least you won't get restriction.....and why not? Because you're going to get your whole lifestyle changed instead. Too lenient? Fortunately leniency can be easily cured and it can happen so swiftly you won't have time to blink. And strictness is the gift that keeps on giving.....not only is your life affected but friends tend to suffer the effects of strictness also.
2. You won't be trusted again for quite awhile, especially when an Agreement is part of the scenario.
3. You can savor the fact that you were quite successful in hurting your parent's confidence by pointing out all the shortcomings and failures, especially that they haven't been able to provide you with all the luxuries that you need. Maybe other peoples' parents got a big enough bonus to buy a car...... but maybe your parent wasn't that lucky....nor were any of your parent's direct co-workers.
4. You can count on the fact that your boyfriend/girlfriend has lost a lot of ground in the parental respect department.
5. If you played really dirty and brought up something your parent did wrong in the past.... then you were able to score quite a few hurt points there, too. But does your parent know of something YOU have done wrong? When you betray someone....does it ever cross your mind that the same person could possibly turn around and betray you? Why shouldn't they when it obviously meant nothing to you to hurt them? Could it be that when someone LOVES you, they don't get off on hurting you, even if it means "winning" an argument?

So there you have it. Your next conflict can either go smoothly or it can erupt into complete ugliness. The best part is, you have the choice as to which you prefer it to be.