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Toilets, Teenagers and Testosterone

Posted on Tue, 19 March, 2019

If you are a parent, and you parent teenagers, I think you’ll relate to what I’m writing about today. Today started off innocently enough, and then took a turn with the 13-year-old with a testosterone-fueled attitude. Teens pretty much suck.  Add ADHD to that and the complexity increases along with my stress and gray hair.

No one wants to clean the toilet – nor the myriad other household chores that he shirks but is expected to fulfill.  Here’s what I like even less than cleaning the toilet: arguing over him doing it.  Then said argument spiraling into his unreasonable righteous points of indignation.  Somehow, we started at “toilet” and ended up at his “grades.”  Stupidly I fell for the drama but I can say with some pride I didn’t lose my shit altogether.  Getting myself, and my shit back together is the topic of most importance here.  The toilet will get cleaned eventually – it needs to get done but is not the ultimate issue. How I handle it in the meantime is what will stick with him into adulthood, informing his own parenting skills. Indeed, informing his self-talk for his life.

Parenting with Your Hair on Fire

I stupidly rebutted his dramatic arguments when I should have deflected; let the tennis serve blow past as it were.  I heard that analogy from John Edward, actually – the medium, not the politician.  The main point of the argument was his refusal to clean the freakin toilet because he needed to be ready for school.  If your teens are anything like mine, readiness for school in the morning involves very little for boys – mostly couch surfing until they are forced to exit the house.

That premise held no weight for me based on afore-referenced couch surfing and I wouldn’t let him off the hook.  For this, I am routinely accused of helicopter parenting. Again he is incorrect in his argument because helicoptering is defined as “a parent who pays extremely close attention to…children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions” – overprotective.  In the light of the recent college admission scandals, I am not paying nearly enough attention.  Plus the kid rarely leaves the house so he’s overly in my business if anything else.

I get discombobulated when I fight with my kids, and my son is nearly six feet tall so I have to crane my neck to look up at him.  It may not sound like a thing, but it somehow screws with me.  I got a late start because of it and as luck would have it, or as my friend Sky Nelson-Isaacs would clarify, the universe responded to my needs by removing all morning commute traffic so I could pound out my parental frustrations in spin class without being late. I needed it desperately and the sprint to Miserlou from Pulp Fiction was the perfect backdrop (including the preamble from Pumpkin & Honeybunny).

ADHD and Parenting Styles

I learned a new moniker this week to add to the stable of poor parenting terms: “snowplow parenting.” Add that to the list of tiger moms, elephant moms, bulldozer/lawnmower parents and my son’s favorite, helicopter parents. Makes me yearn for my youth in the ’70s when I was a latchkey kid.  See what I did there?  I don’t see myself in any of those styles, but he’s attached to the helicopter label.  As parents of ADHD kids, we remind them to do things daily, multiple times.  Even with built-in reminders on the phone to remove me from the picture and we still have to remind him and his sister to get things done.  It’s not a parenting style, it’s ADHD!

This kid doesn’t know what he’s got: an expert in ADHD (fortunate since both kids have it), parents with a spiritual/cultural practice in their Jewish community and who are interested in them feeling they have a balanced life without too much unnecessary pressure.  I am a tiger in the Chinese Zodiac, but I am no tiger mom!  Thankfully I am not managing his homework for him, and neither am I rescuing him from his responsibilities.  Now how do I get that across to him!?!?!??!

Kids at this age rarely listen to the wisdom of their parents, and frankly, I have some deep wisdom to impart.  So will one of you please call my kid and let him know what’s up?  The toilet does need to get cleaned, and when you do a shitty job (see what I did there?), you have to redo it.  This is, of course, one of the curses of ADHD, you are doomed to repeat boring tasks when you cannot get yourself to do it right the first go around.

So, this is not my first rodeo – I know all about ADHD.  But I need to vent sometimes.  Teaching life skills so I am not the kind of parent he thinks I am is like being in a Twilight Zone episode, there’s definitely the feeling of Deja Vu, but also I think I might be going crazy.

Jodi Klugman-Rabb is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Marin & Napa Counties.  She makes a habit of connecting with clients on a humorous and practical level, helpful when specializing in Parental Identity Discovery™, ADHD and trauma.  She is a wife of 20 years and the mom of two funny and awesome kids. Connect with Jodi on this website, this one, her Psychology Today Blog, Podcast or Facebook.

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A blog written by a hip, sometimes irreverent shrink who’s been around the block and calls it like it is

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