HOW Do You Work With Teenagers?

HOW do you work with teenagers?

I get asked this quite a bit.

My answer?
Very easily actually.

Because ‘teenagers’ are wicked.

They have SO much to offer society and they have so much brilliance in them, if we’d only stop sometimes to listen.

Teenagers are in limbo; stuck in the chaotic chasm between childhood and adulthood; trying not to be children, trying desperately to be adults, and landing somewhere in the middle.

They are brilliant. They are intelligent. They are fun and they are inspiring. They are kind and empathetic and sensitive and brave.

Surely there are moods and hormones and stomps and grumps and huffs and eye rolls and attitude; but guess what?

They were huffy and stubborn as toddlers and children too.

And as adults, we’re pretty partial to the odd huff or eyeroll or attitude too, are we not?

Being a teenager is hard. And I wouldn’t return to that period of my life for all the tea in China. (Well, maybe for an hour to give myself some advice.)

We expect them to act grown up but then criticise them if they do anything “adulty”

We expect them to stop acting like children and yet, can treat them like children in the next breath.

We often assume that they are moody and grumpy just because of their age, rather than asking them what is actually bothering them.

We assume that they are all addicted to computer games and incapable of doing anything for themselves, when actually, so many of them are creative and capable.

We brand them impossible and useless and tut at their inability to make decisions or solve problems.

And in so many cases, the things that we complain that they can not or will not do for them, are because we didn’t show them how to do it, or trust that they could.

Now listen, I know that some parents get it incredibly difficult with their little Sweetums-turned-Satan, and as a teacher believe me, I have been on the receiving end of some teenage angst and attitude in my time.

But I have also learned that often, the behaviour that is causing the adults to eye roll and stomp feet, is not a result of ‘bad’ kids, but often a result of frustration.

New emotions, new feelings, new situations, new relationships, new friends, new worries, new realisations, new expectations, new disappointments… everything is new.

The level of overwhelm on a daily basis is unreal for many.
And don’t even start me on the kids who are dealing with all sorts of chaos at home before they even get to school in the morning.

Why the hell would a young person who has spent the night listening to rows, or who hasn’t eaten properly in 2 days, give a continental shite about right angles, or Shakespeare’s soliloquies, or that you are “so disappointed“ in them for not having homework done again or for being late.

Some teenagers are going through things that most of us, as adults, wouldn’t have a clue how to start dealing with.

Sometimes we need to cut them some slack.
Sometimes we need to ask how they are.
Sometimes we need to ignore the attitude and continue to be pleasant and nice to them.
Sometimes we need to NOT respond how they expect us to when they kick off.
Sometimes, we need to trust them.

For many young adults, all they want is trust. To feel trusted and to be given some responsibility to try, and to prove themselves. They need to know that failing at something is not as important as having TRIED it in the first place.

And again, guess what?

The magical 18th birthday does NOT with it bring the key to all things adulty. I’m a long-time, “experienced” adult and I’m still experiencing all of the NEW things I listed above. And sometimes I feel like a teenager who needs an adult to show me how to fix or deal with things.

Life doesn’t change. We get on with adulting and being adulty and we continue to deal with new problems and fears and worries and people.
Adults just don’t get criticised so much when they make mistakes or get overwhelmed.

We need to give teenagers some credit.

They are wonderful.
They are brilliant.
They are kind and they are caring.

If you trust them, or let them use their own initiative, it’s incredible what they can do.
If you let them express their emotions, they might just learn to understand them.
If you tell them things are going to be OK, they might just believe you.
And if you tell them you believe in them, they might just start to believe in themselves.

Because if they think we don’t like them or believe in them, how can we expect them to like themselves?
And while sometimes, we want to give them the proverbial kick up the *&^%, they’d probably do a whole lot better, if we gave them a smile or a hug.

Because sometimes a hug is all we need. Teenagers and adults alike.

So How do I work with teenagers?
Quite happily thank you.

You Hold Your Own Key

Although it is many moons ago, Mammy remembers getting her Leaving Cert Results.

Mammy was certain that the contents of the little brown envelope were going to change her life. Had Mammy’s life REALLY depended on the contents of that little brown envelope, quite frankly, I’d be living an utterly dreadful, mediocre and half-arsed attempt at one. 😂

Because the results printed on my little scrap of yellow paper were quite awful, if I’m very honest.

The only mark I remember (or tell anyone about!) was my A1 in Honours English. Go figure.

As for the rest of them? I’d say the examiners only passed me so that they wouldn’t have to read my verbal diahorrea again the following year. 😂I’m not exaggerating either.

But the other grades didn’t matter. The A in English was all that mattered to me, both then AND today. Yes, I got into college, but not until I had spent a week back in the brown uniform 😣😣 convincing myself that I needed to repeat the Leaving Cert.

It wasn’t until the second round offers and a trip to meet (attack😛) the Dean of the English Department in Coleraine, that I finally got my place on the degree course. (I might have only been 17, but I was a stroppy one!😂)

English was all I loved. It was all that I wanted to study and, as the little brown envelope told me, it was apparently all that I was good at… All that I was good at THEN.

At 17.

As it turns out, I’m good at a whole load of things.

It just so happened that I didn’t get to take Leaving Cert exams in singing, dancing, shopping or eating.

The Big LC recognised my ability to understand Shakespeare and write stories off the top of my head, but it didn’t (and couldn’t) know how strong I was at things like organisation, being a friend, laughing or leading.

So I was crap at French. Biology for me ended after the section on photosynthesis. But although my maths grade was dismal, I challenge you to find ANYONE who can work out a % as quickly as me when I see the word “SALE”. 😂😂

So there.

Now, over 20 years on, I’m an English teacher.  I’m a writer and I’m a businesswoman.  I’m a whole lot of things that that little piece of paper could NEVER have predicted me to be.

Of COURSE, as a teacher, I value the Leaving Cert.

I love teaching the course and I try my best to encourage my Babbies to give it their best shot.

But I also know that they are young adults. That they have a LOT going on. That some of them have things going on in their lives that are a WHOLE lot more important that exams. 😢

That while some of them will have given it their ALL for 2 years, on the day of the exam, it might just not happen. That some of them are dealing with trying to live up to expectations that might be unrealistic.  That some of them just haven’t yet realised their strengths or abilities in certain areas.

And sometimes, that at 18, they’re just not quite ready for the ridiculous pressure of the state exam.

For a whole load of reasons, Tuesday is a huge day for our young adults. But that little brown envelope is only that.

An envelope.

Despite what it is inflated to be, it is NOT the most important piece of paper in the world.

Yes, the letters and numbers inside it will have an immediate effect.

Yes, some doors will open and yes, some doors will close, but what is written on the page does not define them.

The Leaving Cert does NOT know our children. It doesn’t see the kindness. It doesn’t measure their ability to change things. It can’t recognise their skills as motivators, or thinkers, or makers, or doers. It does not define them, nor should it.

And as parents, yes, some of us might be disappointed for our kids on Tuesday.

But mostly we should be proud, because regardless of what is on that page, they are OUR children and they have done their best and we must remind them that they CAN do whatever they want.

Because WE know what they can be.

Untitled design (1)

There are ALWAYS options and sometimes, the path that they are so determined to be the ONLY one for them right now, was never the right one for them…it usually takes a few years for them to realise that however.

But they will. 💕

So in the meantime, tell them how brilliant they are. And leave them under NO illusion that no matter what words and letters are on that piece of paper, that you are and will always be proud of them and that you will help them to get to where they want to go, may it be straight through the college door or in a longer, roundabout way.

But all roads lead ahead. And before they know it, they won’t even remember what was printed on the page!

It might be over 20 years since I opened my little brown envelope and had my heart broken in a million pieces, but trust me, everything happens for a reason. 😇

Todayt, I send love to all of the young people (especially my own Babbies😘😘) and to all you exam parents whose minions face the brown envelope this Tuesday.

And remember, that little brown envelope does NOT hold the key to their future. They hold that key already.

It’s right inside them.

And no piece of paper can change that.

Mammy  XXX

The Unspoken Reality of (most) Hotel Stays with Kids.

‘Let’s stay in a hotel’ they said.

‘Let us pack up our minions and go on an adventure and stay in a lovely family room in a hotel.  It shall be fun!’ they said.

Forgetting momentarily that

  1. Most “Family rooms” are simply big rooms with two beds.

  2. Children do not automatically behave themselves when in hotels.

  3. Scolding and voices must be conrolled by Mammy and Daddy as whatever frowning might be done at the chaos caused by minions, more frowning will be done if Mammy or Daddy use their usual shouty voice.

  4. Children, regardless of being up since 5am and walking the entirity of Dublin zoo after a 3 hour drive, shall NOT be “so knackered that they’ll conk out straight away” (Me. This was MY fuckwittery. Not Him’s in fairness.)

  5. Children who are used to their own rooms, will either complain incessently about the sibling being “on their side” or cackle incessently together, or both at the same time, for no apparent reason other than to drive Mammy and Daddy up the bathroom wall…

  6. Because the bathroom is where Mammy and Daddy invariably end up EVERY SODDING TIME WE STAY IN A HOTEL with the kids.  Daddy lies in his clothes, in the empty bath, with his phone, Mammy on a cushion of towels with a glass of grapes and, quite often, a book.  Professionals I tell you!      *We learned after the first time to treat ourselves to a nice, full, cold drink at the bar before going up to do the bedtime dance, because there’s not much to do in a bathroom while awaiting your feral one’s to concede to the long overdue sleep in the bedroom, is there?

  7. After 45 minutes of complaining and cackling simultaneously, with random hisses of “Go to sleep!” and “If I have to come into that room” from OUR side of the bathroom door, children will eventually have to be placed by Daddy into separate beds.  After a few minutes, they will go to sleep, usually lying horizontally across the pillows, leaving Mammy and Daddy to wonder where the hell they are going to sleep, not that they can finally remove themselves from the bathroom.

  8. Parents will debate whether to poke the bear…as in try to replace small child into the bed beside her sister, risking said child wakening again… or to simply climb into a bed each, beside the horizontal sleeping feckin cherubs.

  9. Parents will not poke the bear…figuratively, physically, metaphorically or other.

  10. All members of the family shall be asleep by 8.45pm, with both parents sporadically wakening throughout the night to check that miniest minion has not fallen out of the 8 foot high bed, or indeed wet it, just for the craic.

 

Don’t forget to follow me on all my Social Media Platforms.

Mammy

I am Same Clothes Forever Mum

“We won’t get much longer dressing them in matching outfits” says Me to He as we walked along the promenade in Salou.  We were on the last night of our holidays and the girls had been wearing beautifully matching outfits every evening for the full week.

65209924_504812043591082_8811073872431415296_n

With 4 years age difference, I’ve been becoming aware that Mini-Me will soon protest at  being dressed identically to her 3 year old sister.  And I was OK with that.

But then, something happened that has ensured and concreted the plan in my head, that while we are away in strange places, they shall be wearing matching clothes, until they are AT LEAST 35 years old.

Princess went missing.

Ladybelles.  She ran out of our sight and literally disappeared. In an EMPTY FOYER.

She was gone for about 7 minutes. 7 Loooooooooooong minutes. And I can honestly tell you they were the longest, most painfully dreadful 7 minutes of my life.  While trying to remain composed to FIND her, my brain had already jumped ahead to what would need to happen to get her found.

We were walking back to our rooms after the entertainment had finished.  A friend and his kids were along with us, and as we all waked through the hall to head towards the lifts, I made a MASSIVE mistake.  I caught the glint in her eye and said “Wait for Mammy please” which she heard as “Run Princess RUN!”

She scuttled off ahead of us, no more than 20 feet into what we knew was an empty foyer and when we all turned the half corner, there she was…gone.

We started calling.  Him belted up the stairs and started running through the halls on each floor, roaring her name.  The friend ran straight to the main door to ensure she hadn’t gone outside.  I started hitting the buttons for the lifts, automatically all assuming that she’d gone into one of the lifts and that it had gone up with her inside. (Fast closing wee buggers those lifts.)

Mini-Me started to roar and cry and Friend’s kids didn’t know what to do,  Wee pets.

She wasn’t outside.

She wasn’t in the lifts.

Every 20 seconds Him stuck his head over another balcony, roaring “Did you get her?” before taking off to the next floor.

Within 1 minute, the hotel staff had locked all the main doors and maybe 5 other dads had joined in the running.

Why will they always be dressing the same? Because every time someone else joined us to help, I was able to point at Mini-Me and say “She’s wearing the same outfit” and off they ran…

Just when I thought it was beyond a case of her innocently getting lost, and was about to step Mental Mammy up a notch, a big bald English guy stuck his head over the balcony and asked “Are you guys playing Hide n Seek with a little girl?”

The poor fecker was greeted with a herd of people running at him and some sort of gutteral wail that I’m pretty sure was coming from my mouth, even though I had no real control at that point.

I took those steps 5 at a time and met Himself on the corner of the big long corridor and there, peeking her curly little fecker head out from behind an corner, was Princess.  Half laughing, half terrified and by the time I reached her to scoop her into my arms, half sobbing.

We thanked everyone, went to the room, tucked them in and then did what all parents would do… sat on the balcony like two weins and cried for an hour.

But the scariest thing was that she was with a gang of adults, in a safe place, with no crowds and she still went missing right in front of our eyes.

Next morning, Mini-Me scolded her at breakfast.

“You shouldn’t go into the lift on your own.  It’s not funny.”

Princess looked at her as if she were absolutely insulted.

“I did NOT go in the lift” she admonished. “I went up the stairs.” before continuing to eat her porridge as if THAT made it all alright.

Oh well that’s OK then I suppose… Seriously.

Lessons learned? We only think we’re in charge, kids are fast, other parents are incredibly fast at helping when you need it… and matching clothes should be worn at all times, for the foreseeable forever.

65617563_1333467866810079_1808927928860278784_n

I am Some Packy Hackies Mum

It’s almost Holibop Season!

Hurrah!

Packing is something that I am good at.  I enjoy it and generally once I have my lists done, it doesn’t take long.  I’m a light packer.  I can pack myself and Himself into one case for a week away.  If we’re doing a weekend trip, one small bag is plenty.  And I can do a trip alone with tiny carry on.  I have been known to arrive in London with my toothbrush, clean knickers and a tee-shirt tucked into my handbag.

Packing for the four of us to go on holidays has never been hard either.  Simply because we’ve never ventured beyond Ireland, and so we’ve had the luxury of the boot of the car and as much space as we need.

hols

 

So last year, going on our first sun holiday as a family,  presented Mammy with a new challenge.  And I must say that thanks to the Mammies on my blog, I  gathered some super tips to add to my own packy-hacks:  Each of these worked a charm, and I’ll be doing the exact same this year.

  • Lists: Plan ahead.  I write down what will be worn/needed by everyone for the number of nights we’re away.  Then I add a spare outfit for the girls, just incase.
  • Mix up the bags: I had planned on a case for us and a case for the girls. We have one each, but I’m not lugging 4 cases through the airports.  Loads of Mums told me to mix all of the clothes between the cases, and if one gets lost or delayed, at least everyone still has clothes when we arrive.
  • Check-in? If you arrive at your resort early, your room/apartment might not be ready. Pack swimming gear and sun cream in one of the carry on bags so that you can go straight to the pool while you wait for your check-in.
  • Ziplock bags: THIS has changed my life Ladybelles.  Thanks to Davina from Jim for this one. She advised me to pack the kids clothes into these.  So for each evening, I have their dresses, underwear, socks etc that they’ll need for going out for dinner in little bags. It will avoid the suitcases turning into chaotic pits of “I can’t find it!”  I have their shorts and Tees and Swimmers and PJs labeled in their bags too, so The Him will be able to easily find things too.  (I’ve since been directed to little sets of case organisers that can be bought in different colours and have it on good authority that they are super.  I never did get around to buying them however!)
  • Pop-up tent:  My mate is a serial beach goer.  This is her tip. Bring a little pop up tent. We have a little wigwam in the hall. It cost a tenner. It folds down to nothing and if it fits, it’s going into one of the cases. It’ll provide shade for the girls, means they can play in it if it gets too hot on the beach and it was perfect last year for changing nappies!  Genius.
  •  Backpacks:  Now, my girls have flown a few times, but only short flights.  I’ve always packed little colouring books and some snacks into their bags to keep them occupied.  This time, I’ve packed a few more and have a few wee surprises for them for emergency distractions! (Euroshops are Wicked for this kind of stuff.)
  • Downloads:  Did you know that you can download from your Netflix account? I have my tablet stocked up with episodes of Paw Patrol and a few movies.
  • Snack packs:  Now this one I initially scoffed at, but let’s face it, children eat ALL DAY and snacks are expensive.  So, I have done up a snack pack for each day; popcorn, raisins, pops, Haribo, Biscuits; their favourites.  And while of course we’ll be able to get this stuff there, to know that I have the bags ready to pop into the buggy each morning is great.  And the whole lot cost me €7.  So we’ll save our money for drinks and ice-creams.
  • Lollipops and chewy sweets:  Life saver for the ears of the Minions on take-off and landing.
  • Travel sized stuff:  Who doesn’t love mini-stuff?  Over the past few weeks, I’ve picked up my moisturiser and some of my makeup bits simply by asking for samples at the counters. There’s enough suncream to carry without jars and pots.  I even got a lovely face mask from one lovely lady.   I tend to leave the makeup at home on hols, opting instead for basic concealer, bronzer and mascara. And I decant my shampoo and conditioner into the little plastic bottles too.
  • Keep hand luggage minimal. The girls have their little bags, I have my handbag, and Him will have a small carry on with a change of clothes for both girls, calpol and more snacks… and ALWAYS, the Babywipes!
  • Midnight Flit?  If you are lifting your minions out of bed to travel, either put them to bed in their tracksuits or comfies. (If you can!)
  • Pillow Cases:  Pack 2 pillowcases.  Use them as laundry bags; one for lights, one for darks/colours.  Easier to carry the washing home and easier to unpack. (I swear by this one. Works a treat.)
  • Beds:  Before we go, I’ll change the beds. Pain in the posterier as you try to get out the door, but just think of how lovely it is to get back into your own nice, clean bed after a week away. I’ll be glad of it when we return.

 

These are only a few of the many, many I got sent.  I’m sure there are many more you would add.   Some might tut at my over preparation, but I’m one of those people who needs my shit to be together, for my mind to stay together.

I’ll relax more knowing that I have the essentials sorted. And anything that we forgot can be bought there.  Mammies tend to do all the sorting don’t we? But this Mammy believes that preparation is key and I know that when we get there, I WILL relax, because I’ve put in the work at home!

All I need to do now is to make sure there’s a few beers in the fridge for the Big Wee Brother who’s moving in to babysit the Furbaby. And get there!

Happy Holidays to you if you’re going away. Share away at your own packing-hacks!