I read an entertaining article this about trying to measure the intelligence of cats (check slate.com) and yes, of course the cats did not cooperate or give a rats ass about doing their best. Cats don’t care. Dogs care. Fish care. Cats don’t care. They’re obviously unconcerned about standardized testing, status or pleasing anyone.
One of my cats didn’t answer to her name for the first five years of her life. We didn’t even try to figure out why it took her so long.
The same sorts of concepts apply when trying to understand teenagers. Only they say they’re cooperative when they’re not and they do care. When they care they either are full of heart breaking angst or they act like they don’t care by giving monosyllabic answers or a shrug.
Teens and cats could both sleep 20 hours a day. They’re both fun to have around when they’re in a good mood. They both like to play. They both like to eat. They’re both demanding for your attention when they want something. They will both ignore you for no reason – even when you don’t want to be ignored. Even when ignoring you could be dangerous to their well being (parents you know what I’m talking about.) Teens and cats are both so cute and so funny. They’re both horrible when they’re in a bad mood.
And when I’m in a bad mood they’re both exceptionally good at cheering me up.
Yesterday was a hard day for both of my teens and for me.
The oldest is bored with school. He wonders why he can’t just “Pass Go” and move on to college. This is a first for this school loving social butterfly. I told him that if he wanted to stay on the list for the good school that he had to keep up the grades, something he already knows and will do. I’m finding him writing more sensitive poetry and leaving it in his pockets. Then my dryer is full of poems. I need to tell my son to self publish a poetry anthology so he can help pay for college next year.
The youngest is in Hell. She hates high school. She hates her teachers. Her teachers hate her. She hates most of the kids. Her brother doesn’t understand because he is perfect. She got into the wrong classes. She isn’t learning anything in 4 of her 6 classes. She is failing because her teachers suck. At this rate she’ll never get into a good college. It broke my heart to listen to her. Her dad and I offered to talk to her English teacher (the witch who hates kids and life and teaching) but she said that would only make it worse. She said if we communicate with her teachers she’ll be put on a black list and end up being loathed by all of the teaching staff and doomed to fail forever. Later she checked her grades online (after much searching for the password). She is doing fine. All is good. Next year will be better. Today is April 22 and school gets out June 5. Summer will be here before we know it.
The cats had their own issues. The dog ate their food. Oscar the happy-go-lucky gray and white cat was outside all night long and frantic this morning to get in. Gloria the calico was pissed that I let Oscar back in the house. The list of transgressions goes on and on… until a moth flies across the room and both cats scramble to catch it.
Cats don’t like it when you hold their paws. But with teens, most of the time, they just need someone to hold their hand and listen.
When school sucks they need to know that home will always be a safe place where there is someone who will listen to them and at least try to understand. They need to talk it out. And sometimes, like cats, they need a fun distraction.
Having kids who think ahead is rewarding, but it is also scary and painful when they don’t see the future they’ve dreamed of, the future that is expected of them clearly. Maybe there is too much pressure these days with news of how difficult ahead their road will be. Who knows. Nobody can be an expert on the subject because no two teens are alike.
We just need to love and listen. It is simple and it works (most of the time.)
The same goes for those cats. Love them and listen to them (most of the time).
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman