Girls Write Out
Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Kids are Too Soft

This is eerie. I'm reading Chelsea Handler's "Are you there Vodka? It's Me Chelsea". Not for the faint of heart, but I could not resist the Judy Blume-inspired title. What's so weird is having just written my teen lit, "Perfectly Dateless", I am shocked at how similar Chelsea's story is to my character's! Except with a lot more swearing. I did just start it, so I'm sure it won't end the same.

Sunday, we ate on our back porch. We have kind of an outdoor room out there, with a retractable cover. My son Jonah is learning to BBQ, so he wanted to make it a big deal and have Mother's Day outside. Elle sets up the table (oh my kids are way motivated when it's something they want, much less so if it's something their father or I want -- I know, welcome to parenthood.)

Anyway, my son Trey comes out and looks at the chair and decides it's "dirty", and that there are bugs, so he's going back inside. Um, HELLO?? You're a 14 year old boy and this ain't the Ritz, get out here.

After reading Chelsea's book about her bad clothes and her father's embarrassing car, I got to thinking, these kids are so spoiled! They have Quiksilver shirts and Hurley pants. When I was in school, I worked at 13 to afford Dittos and Jordache jeans because if not, I was going in Grandma's homemade polyester miniskirts. With knobby colt legs and clodhopper shoes that "would last". Confession: When I saw "Confessions of a Shopoholic" and our heroine getting the brown shoes next to all the sparkly ones? I cried. And to make matters worse, my mother laughed out loud and goes, "Oh Kris, that was you!"

How is that funny? Bad shoes are never funny, people.

As Trey slipped into his "DC" shoes today, I decided there are going to be some changes around the Billerbeck household. Except Trey couldn't care less if he had DC shoes, that's a mommy thing. My kids wear mismatching clothes just to annoy me. So their toughness test is going to have to come in the form of Legos and video game time. At their age, I took the bus with my girlfriend about 20 miles to get to the mall and spend my paycheck. These kids get picked up from school. Welcome to the real world, kids.

Their dad was raised with everything paid for, and you know what? He has not a lot of coping skills when things go badly. He doesn't bounce back as easily. Failure and hard work helps you bounce back, and I don't want my kids bouncing back to my house, so Boot Camp starts today! Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

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posted at 12:18 PM  
  Comments (11)
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At 12:51 PM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Uh oh, boot camp? Suggestions, hmm.

Don't run them everywhere to play with other kids. Let them do what we did and play with the kids in the neighborhood or at school. or let them ride their bikes.

Give them chores and make them do them.

I think the biggest problem today is we revolve our lives around the kids instead of the kids adjusting to OUR lives. We cater to them. And I know I'm going to be just as bad as Alexa but it's not good. Sigh.

At 1:21 PM, Blogger Pam S. said...

I'm trying to teach my daughter survival skills like doing laundry, dusting, ironing, cooking, and so forth. It's an uphill battle and she's fighting me all the way! All the best to you at boot camp.

At 1:23 PM, Blogger Jill said...

Boot camp doesn't stop because it gets tough for the trainees OR the trainers. Keep it up, and remember that they will be better for it. (Although they may never thank you for it!)

At 2:05 PM, Blogger Kristin said...

Great advice girls! I think I may need some support. I tend to lose focus, but this is so important. I noticed yesterday I worked all day and when I went into sit in the living room and watch TV, it was covered with chips, bags, socks, pillows on the floor instead of the couch. And they're they are sitting around and get this, they still had HOMEWORK!! My 11 year old was doing his at 9:30 and it wasn't because I hadn't nagged him yet.

Oh yeah, things are going to be different.

At 8:28 AM, Blogger OK Chick said...


I think some chores would be a good idea. I always hated when my mom would give my sisters and I chores, then she wouldn't pay us for the chores. She said we needed to do those things because we live in the house. Of course, they provided everything for us, but still everyone else got paid for chores! :(

At 8:51 AM, Blogger Diann Hunt said...

Great post, K! Chores are good. We made our kids do chores, but hubby and I were very different on how we handled it. He handled it like a Marine sergeant and there was weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth every step of the way.

I've always loved to make things a party, so on Saturday mornings when chores were long and boring, I kicked up the music a couple of notches and whooohooo'd my way through dusting, mopping, etc. While the kids still hated the chores, it did lighten their spirits and they didn't mind as much.

At 11:24 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I wish I had some words of wisdom, but all I have are commiseration:-(

Since the baby came, our flaws are greatly magnified, and they are ginormous. My kids are 23, 19 and 15, and my house is ALWAYS a mess.

Now, Dad does his part, as does Mom in making the messes, but WE clean up! Kind of. Just today, hubby bought the milk, but guess who put it away????

Not the Milk Fairy! So, I'll pray for you and you pray for me and together, with God at the helm, our homeships will pilot in a new way:-)

At 1:33 PM, Blogger Tina Pinson said...

Oy did we have chores...

At dinner, my four sisters and I were the cook's help, clearer, washer, dryer and supervisor. If something wasn't done right, the supervisor had to fix it because they didn't do their job right

My mother cleaned for the military, so we had white glove inspections. Oh what fun. I still get the chills from the excitement.

We ironed our clothes, had do so many pieces a week.

We did our laundry, when we lived in Turkey that consisted of stomping in the tub sometimes because the water level was low.

I didn't want to be my parents, but I knew my sons were going to be men and have to cope and care for families of their own someday.

My children, all boys, now in their twenties, learned to cook, work on their own cars if they wanted to drive. (Which my sisters and I had to do.) Do laundry.

Which became important when they moved into their own homes, one of them married and his wife didn't have a clue of how to cook.

They were also taught how to wield a hammer and nail and a sewing needle.

They didn't get to play on their nintendo games for forever, I sat a timer and when time was through they were done. And outside. They rode bikes to a lot of places, of course I drove them as well, but not all over.

We bought the clothes we could afford and on special occasions picked up the more expensive. Usually if they wanted something they had to save up and get it themselves from allowance and they did yard cleaning and paper routes.

We also didn't get involved in every sport, or after school outing. Didn't have the time or the money. We decided they should pick a sport they loved and excel there. Plus they did music.

I hoped to teach them tenderness, and compassion, which I think they have probably not to the depths I wanted, but more so than some. And it's been growing

Having said all that... our boys were pretty self sufficient.

But and this is the kicker...

That didn't keep them from moving home. Unfortunately some wonderful things in life happened and they needed us.

Like my son's first wife left him with a baby and walked out.

The baby is six now, (No he hasn't been with us all that time) and he lives with us because the job he has gets him up at four and some times keeps him till early the next morning.

The biggest thing I had to remember as a mother was not to coddle them. My God given job was to raise these boys and send them off into the world. Honestly,I wanted to keep them under my wing, protect them, keep them out of trouble.

Had I done that they would never learn to fly.

At 9:40 AM, Blogger Betsy St. Amant said...

Good for you, Kristin! Growing up, we never got an allowance and I think it was the best thing that could have happened to me. We helped around the house because it was right, and expected, not because we got paid. It taught me to take great care of my own house now. I got my first job at 16 and worked ever since. My parents helped me out with car insurancea and things like that but I had to chip in, had to make the payments on my first car, etc. Its really taught me a lot and I enjoy who I am because of those lessons. The things we did get "extra" meant all the more because they were actually extra surprises, not demanded or expected.

At 11:45 AM, Blogger Kristin said...

Tina, a military inspection? ACK. I'm not a very good cleaner, but I can organize, so that's what I'm focusing on. I do have to teach them to tackle a bathroom better. They are pretty good at helping around the house, but I want them to notice the mess around them. That might be asking a lot.

Betsy, I worked since I was 13 too, but it was to feed my clothing addiction.

At 8:56 AM, Blogger Lili Northe said...

Ah, yes...adversity.. The best teacher in town. Life is about hurdles and getting over them. Learning to rely on yourself is the best thing in town..Knowing that you are responsible for your actions is another good lesson.My sons who are now adults can cook, and clean and sew on a button...and change the oil in the car...Yes, being a parent means getting ready to gently push the birds out of the nest.....

warm hugs,



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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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