Two Simple Words That Mean So Much

Isn’t it great when kids show appreciation? Like the girl in my Scout troop who always gives me cocoa at Christmas and writes a thank you note.  Or the boy in Emmie’s class who gave me a hug when I showed up to volunteer one day.  Or Emmie, yesterday afternoon  — I had promised to take her to get a new gymnastics leotard, and even though she had to clean her room and pay for half, she said, “Thanks, Mom!” as we walked to the car, new leotard in hand. 
“Thank you for being appreciative,” I said. 

When teens show appreciation, it’s so great (and so rare) it almost takes my breath away.  Rarely do teenage sleepover guests thank me for making cinnamon muffins for breakfast.  Or for picking up all the soda cans and popcorn bowls left behind when they’re gone. Or for putting up with hearing loud singing at 3 a.m.  This past weekend was high school homecoming, our first as parents, and we hosted a pre-dinner/dance reception and photo opp at our house for 12 teens and their parents. Andy and I worked hard all day Saturday getting the house and yard and food ready, while Allison was treated (by a friend) to a manicure/pedicure in the morning and taken to a makeup session by another friend in the afternoon. (I had to keep reminding myself, “This is not a wedding, this is not a wedding…”) That evening as the group prepared to leave our house and head to the festivities, only one teen stopped to shake my hand and say, “Thank you.” I almost fell on the floor and kissed his feet. (No wonder he was elected freshman homecoming king.)

Even though our house shined like a new penny, Allison said that no amount of cleaning would help it.  “I don’t like the layout,” she announced just before the guests arrived, “and the outside colors are bad, too.”  A couple days later, I looked over her shoulder at some of the pictures from that night that were being posted by the group on Facebook.  Our winding staircase was used in many of the group photos.  “Doesn’t that look nice,” I commented on one. 
“It was horrible,” she said.  “Everyone looks squished on those stairs.”

Later she got annoyed with me when she overheard me talking to another parent on the phone– I was asking them if they’d recovered from Homecoming yet.  “Why would you say that?” she asked later in disgust.  “It was MY homecoming, not yours.”
Amazingly keeping my cool, I explained that I’d spent all day Saturday cleaning the house (and part of another day) when I would have rather been doing something else.  I reminded her I didn’t get to sleep until 2:30 a.m. Saturday night because we had to pick her up from the after-party, after I’d stayed up most nights the past week until 1 a.m. trying to get things done.  I also reminded her I attended the “Mum Exchange Cookout” the week before and took photos for her, and how we’ve been opening our wallets continuously for the past several weeks regarding homecoming, buying tickets to the football game, the “freshman after-football game roller skating party”, the “Freshman Homecoming T-shirt”, the Freshman dinner, her dress, half the cost of her shoes, half the cost of her makeup, a $10 box of “lingerie tape” to hold up the afore-mentioned strapless dress, a $7 bottle of spray-on tan, a $15 brow wax PLUS tip and tax, the food and drink for our reception, the sodas we brought to the cookout, the ridiculously gaudy fake “arm mum” we bought for her date… did I see a glimmer of understanding cross her face? Nah, it must have been something flickering on the computer screen.

Last night, she came back from a movie outing with her friends feeling very sick (school’s been on fall break this week).  She had fever and was coughing.  When I headed to bed around midnight, she called out from her room, huddled under her comforter.  “Can I have another blanket?” she asked weakly. I went downstairs and got one, and covered her up. 
“Thank you,” she said.  ###

7 thoughts on “Two Simple Words That Mean So Much”

  1. Moms & Mums! Boy, I’ve heard so many stories of woe over this Homecoming season. It may be 98% of phone conversations and 99% of e-mail content among women with teens. My fiancée has a 16 year old. No offense meant but from one man’s perspective (who happens to have been a single dad during my son’s “Mums” tears, I mean years) like bad dancers; MOMS TRY TOO HARD. It’s literally a bigger deal to you than to the kids! They just want to dress up a little and get out of the house all night. Moms want to show them off to the other Moms with their ridiculous Mums and brag about their dates and their Mums. Lighten up Moms: You’re introducing them to social pressure, perhaps, for the first time. You’re literally teaching them to terrorize their girls when they have them. You’re teaching them to “keep up with the Momses” Allison was right; It’s her Homecoming, not yours.
    I sure don’t mean to come across as a “know it all” or like a therapist, but Moms, chill out with the Mums! They are ugly and everybody knows that! They were meant to be ugly, over the top, fun and gaudy. Stop taking this “Mum night thing” so serious! With love, a dad.

  2. Gabe, read my post entitled Bumming About Homecoming.  Hopefully you’ll see that Andy and I are not on board with the mum craziness at all. If it was up to me, we’d go the “red carnation” route mentioned. I don’t like the way things get so “over the top” in Texas and if I could stop it, I would.  But the mums raise so much money for the school that it’s hard for anyone to find anything else to replace it.  I especially don’t like the way it further divides students into the “haves” and “have nots”.  Even among those with mums, there is ridiculous disparity– those with clanging cowbells on their mums and those who have no bells, those who spend an extra $6 to put an outfit on their bear and those whose bears are naked. We personally wouldn’t mind if Emmie eschews mums when it’s her turn, or makes an anti-mum like those I’ve heard about, black with a rat’s head instead of a bear.

  3. No, not to be picky; but Gabe Meadows responded to “Two Simple Words That Mean So Much”. Now I’ll have to read “Bumming About Homecoming”. I missed that one. Sorry.

  4. Such a small thing but makes all the difference! Displaying Gratitude is definitely learned…way to go Mom!! I really enjoy your no-nonsense mothering and love your wisdom! Thank you thank you

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