“It’s my Sunday,” she said.

“It makes more sense, Mommmmm, for me to hunt for a job during school vacation,” she said.

“I will do my resume this afternoon,” she said.

“When I have more energy,” she said.

“Calm down, Mom,” she said.

“You are acting like a crazy woman,” she said.

To be fair, our 17-year-old had an after-school job from her eighth-grade school year until the beginning of this year – her senior year – when my husband and I decided that she would take the fall off to apply for college. Higher education: Check. Job: Not so much.

Teenagers do need their sleep.

My own father was a “my-way-or-the-highway” kind of parent: He was one of those dads who said nothing for weeks and then brought the hammer down on whatever needed hammering. His technique made it unbearable to do anything else but what he wanted us to do at that moment:

“You will get up.” “You will get a job.” “You will do the dishes.” “You will help your mother. ” He said.

Laziness was not tolerated.

“Define laziness” is what I said as a full-grown survivor of his reign of terror. Why isn’t it OK to hang out? Why isn’t it OK to do nothing on a Saturday? Why isn’t OK to say “mañana” when the rest of the Western world is spinning out of control with ambition and drive?

And, as I recall, there is nothing worse than waking up to a parent who is already mad at you before you’ve even swung your chubby feet out of your bed and onto the floor.

When I was 17, I remember waking up at my friend’s house to the noise of a vacuum cleaner. My friend’s mom, although pleasant in the afternoon, woke the household up with the sound of a high-pitched machine slamming into baseboards.

It seemed clear to me that she was trying to wake us up, but not clear that she was trying to get us up: It was hard to imagine from the slamming and banging sounds below that there was any room for us in her path of mad cleaning.

There isn’t a Saturday morning – when I do most of my cleaning – that I don’t think about my friend’s mom and her gentle wake-up calls. I know from experience that this is not the way to motivate your kid. Yes, he or she will get up and do what you demand, on command, but it is not pleasant for you or your child.

And yet, years of reacting to this type of parenting have created a cleaning monster in me that I can’t shake. Most Saturday mornings I’m part mad-cleaning-Mom, hammer-Dad and empathy-Mom. One minute I’m screaming at her to get up, and the next minute I’m offering to make waffles. Sybil meets the vacuum cleaner.

I can smell avoidance a mile away: When my 17-year-old explains to me in her most condescending tone that, “It’s not logical, Mom. Why would I do my resume now when I have all of school break to work on it, Mom?,” I go nuts.

I understand from my own teen experience that she is avoiding a task that contributes nothing to her immediate happiness. I get it. I’ve been there.

To dodge a test, I once told my parents that I swallowed a chicken bone (claiming that it went down my throat horizontally). Stomach aches and sore throats were an ongoing avoidance tactic through my school years. Thankfully, I’ve grown up, sort of. I currently have a large brass paper holder on my desk in the shape of the word “later.”

My daughter, in contrast to me, is not an avoider. So when I see myself in her, even just a little bit, I pounce – believing, as most parents do, that I can block all potential negative qualities in her personality, thus saving her from all negative consequences. A direction-correction, I like to call it.

“Good luck with that, Mom,” she said.

Jolene McGowan lives and works in Portland with her husband, daughter and dog and has no plans to leave, ever. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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