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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How to Outsmart Your Teenagers (or think you are)

The last ten years have been akin to an extended episode of ‘The Roadrunner’; with me starring as Wile. E. Coyote, desperately scheming up plots to outfox, blow up or impede the flock of Roadrunners living under my roof. (There is no word for a group of Roadrunners as the species prefer to live alone which explains why mine like to lock themselves in their rooms a lot.)

Tip 1.

When Thaddeus and Jonah reached their early teens we needed to prevent brazen pillaging of blank CDs, loose change for the passing Mr Whippy van and insolent rifling for random booty whenever we left them alone in the house.

One of the first things we did was install a lock on our bedroom door. Regrettably, the kids discovered an illicit means of access via the laundry shute in my ensuite.

When the older boys grew too big to shimmy up the shute they solicited the diminutive frames of little Lulu or Padraic; who were hoisted up and encouraged to scramble like slithering eels into the forbidden chamber, granting access to the canny looters via the door.

This clandestine adventure carried on for some time until one day nine year old Padraic, became stuck in the shute for ten minutes and it frightened him so much he confessed the whole sordid conspiracy. So… we put a lock on the door of the laundry shute as well.

Tip 2.

At one point our electricity bill reached a lofty $1200 per quarter and drastic action was required. Not only were we going broke but my kids were single-handedly driving global climate change into the stratosphere. 

Scotto put a padlock on the power box and turned the air-conditioner off between 9:00am and 6:00pm which chopped $500 off the bill after three months.

The collective whinging was unbearable but worth it. Teenagers sleep more than hibernating grizzly bears and mine were sleeping in on holidays and weekends until 3:00 pm in their air-conditioned bedrooms.

One day we found the padlock had been sawn off. 
I’m serious. 
We bought another more robust one and threatened removing the unit from their walls thus allowing for a more natural and permanent style of air flow. 

Tip 3.

Hagar the Horrible enjoyed roughly three hideous, amnesic years when he would constantly lose his front door key. His cunning solution to this predicament was to scale the roof and break in via an upstairs, screened toilet window. 

Don’t ask me how a six foot tall basketballer could squeeze in through a tiny toilet window but he managed it.

Hagar destroyed numerous screens breaking into the house whilst embracing this technique until one day while he was climbing on to the roof he snapped my clothes line, left all the clean clothes on the dirt and was unofficially disinherited.

We installed a code lock on the front door and have never had an issue since.

Tip 4.

It’s tough setting punitive consequences for teenage misdemeanours. You can’t send them to their bedroom as that’s where they spend most of their time anyway. You can ground them… but when their mates all have cars it becomes complicated. 

One effective ‘Achilles Heel’ however is the Internet. The router is located in our bedroom. Too much crap from them and Internet access is immediately cut off… and if I don’t want a hissy-fit scene, I plead ignorance.

“It must be the damn provider again,” I’ll say innocently. “It’s annoying isn’t it?”

Any of your tips or advice is most welcome!