Sometimes...It Takes a Thief

My husband and I just got back from stealing a car. Okay, okay, we didn’t actually steal it. We just stole everything out of it. We stole a cell phone, GPS unit, cool Nike bag full of clothes, pair of sunglasses, money from the change dish and a Puffs tissue box.

We did it because we love our daughter deeply, and feel that she needs to learn the valuable life lesson of responsibility.

You see, ever since Ashleigh started driving three months ago, we set up some rules to help keep her safe and responsible. One of those rules is that whenever she drives herself somewhere, she needs to call and let us know she arrived safely. She’s done a pretty good job of it so far.

But today she left for work, which we know is a 10-minute drive, and didn’t call. By the time 20 minutes had passed with no call, we started getting worried. I tried her cell phone several times but there was no answer. I tried calling her place of work, but the managers weren’t picking up the phone either.

My hubby and I immediately left, following the route she drives to work, and found her car parked right where it was supposed to be while she was safely ensconced inside the facility working.


We discovered she’d left the car unlocked, and the back windows completely down (it’s supposed to storm later). Yeesh! I mean, c’mon! What is our beautiful, intelligent girl thinking?

So I immediately suggested we rob her, and my husband agreed. We took every last thing out of that car and left it unlocked (praying nobody actually did steal it in the next four hours). We knew she would completely freak when she came out and found everything missing. But how do we drill this responsibility thing into her head?


I was at my son’s baseball game when my cell phone rang. “Mom! Somebody broke into my car and stole everything!” Her voice was appropriately panicked.

“Calm down, tell me what happened.”

“Somebody broke in--I don’t know how, I locked my car!”

“You locked your car?”

“I—well, I think I locked it.” I could hear the doubt creeping in there.

“Stay right there. Let me call daddy and have him come get you. He’ll be there in a couple of minutes.” (Having anticipated the phone call, Chris left the game early and was waiting in his car for my call.)


About 20 minutes later, I arrived home with Joshua from his baseball game to find Ashleigh seated at the kitchen table crying. A list of all the items that were “stolen” was scrawled out on a piece of paper in front of her. Chris had the phone pressed to his ear, pretending to call Ashleigh’s cell phone in a fake attempt to locate it. I rolled my eyes. Daddy was starting to have a little too much fun with this now. I gave him a look and he couldn’t suppress the grin that was itching to break loose.

Realization hit hard and fast as Ashleigh looked back and forth between us in disbelief, her voice barely a whisper, “You guys stole my stuff?”

We burst into laughter, which was immediately suppressed when Ashleigh burst into fresh tears.

Several comforting hugs and kisses later, amidst assurances we did it because we love her, she forgave us. We explained we wanted to impress the gravity of the situation upon her, the importance of keeping herself safe.

Ashleigh actually said, “I’m glad you did it.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because I’ll never forget to lock my car again.” And she laughed.

Wow. Lesson actually learned. So ends another chapter in the life of parenting teens.

Quote of the Month

"Everyone who has ever taken a shower
has had an idea. It's the person who
gets out of the shower, dries off,
and does something about it
that makes a difference."
Nolan Bushnell

School's Out!

Only three more days until school is out! Woo hoo!

I personally have never understood all the commercials showing how much parents dread school being out, and the kids being home. I, for one, look forward to the break from the exhausting school/homework/after-school-running-around-like-a-madwoman routine.

I LOVE not having to arise at 5:00 a.m. to squeeze in exercise time and work before my daughter arrives home at 2:00 p.m.

I LOVE that, especially now that my kids are older, we don’t have to hustle them off to bed, but can stay up late enjoying summer evenings, leisurely chats with neighbors, and roasting marshmallows to make s’mores in our backyard fire pit, without worries about getting up early or not getting enough sleep.

Now I admit, there are occasions during those hazy summer days, when my two little angels aren’t quite so delightful to be around 24/7. I know many of you are nodding in agreement when I say those occasions usually occur when they are fighting.

As my kids have entered their teen years, they’ve actually gotten a little better about this. But I recall several summers when, at times, their fighting drove me nuts! I absolutely could not tolerate it.

So I developed a few techniques that I’ve used successfully when these occasions occur; and I’m going to share them with you. :)

One technique I used a lot when they were younger was the Compliment Game.

Whenever I caught them fighting with each other (usually over something ridiculously trivial), I would have them play the Compliment Game. It didn’t matter who started it, or what the cause was, I would immediately sit them down and have them give three compliments to each other. The compliments had to be about qualities they genuinely admired in each other, and could not be something superficial like “I like your shirt.”

Eventually, as soon as the fighting would start, and I’d say, “Okay, it sounds like we need to play the Compliment Game,” I would hear…

“No, not the Compliment Game!”

“Anything but that, mom!”

I’m tellin’ ya’, it worked like a charm.

Another technique I’ve successfully used to forestall fighting is something I like to call “Lifeskills Training.” Basically, that’s just my fancy way of saying I put them to work.

See, I have a theory that oftentimes siblings start fighting with each other because they’re bored. They don’t have enough to do; they need to be put to work. Working helps release that restless energy they’ve built up from just sitting in front of the T.V. watching cartoons, and playing on the computer or X-Box.

I explained to the kids that it’s their father’s and my job to prepare them for life. In a few short years, they’ll be out on their own and they need to be fully prepared for that time. So at the beginning of the summer, we always set some Lifeskills goals. In previous years we’ve covered:

Cooking Lessons, Laundry Lessons, Cleaning the Bathroom (including the toilet) Lessons, as well as learning to dust (white glove test and everything), vacuum, sweep, mow the lawn, weed, do the dishes. You name it.

Sure, at first it’s a bit time-intensive for you as the parent-trainer. But they catch on quick. And the added bonuses are they’re so busy working, they don’t really have time to fight; plus, this ultimately creates more free time for you as the parent-trainer! It gives the kids confidence in their own abilities as well.

Pretty cool, eh? Really a win-win situation.

This summer, I think we’ll add working out. It’s a great Lifeskill to impart, especially with the obesity of American kids being such a popular topic of conversation lately.

So here’s to a buff, fun-filled, relaxing, argument-free summer!

What techniques do you use when siblings are fighting?

How embarrassing!

Think back to your own tween/teen years. If you’re around my age, it was all about wearing just the right pair of Calvin Klein or Jordache jeans, oversized comb stuffed into the back pocket. Making sure your hairstyle had just the right amount of eighties bigness and Farrah Fawcett feathering. It was so important to just blend in.

And no matter when you were a teen, do you remember how your parents could embarrass you just by breathing?

Well, now it’s our turn, and I’m thrilled! I actually think it’s my personal duty as a mother of teens to embarrass them whenever possible. It builds character, don’t you think?

I mean, my daughter has learned to hold her head up high with only the slightest eye roll whenever I burst into song as we approach crowded places together. And my son just hunches deeper over his ice cream cone as I finish mine, stand up, jam my pointer and pinkie fingers straight to the sky in the classic “rock on” pose, and shout “I am Joshua Bowne’s mom, and I’m proud!”

If you’re a parent like me and you’re looking for ways to help your teen build character. Here are my top five ways to embarrass your teen by hardly trying at all.

Number 5: Kissy Face. Whenever driving your teen somewhere to meet with friends, be sure to give her a big ol’ smoochy in full view of everybody. She’ll be happy her friends now know how much you love her and will miss her while she’s gone.

Number 4: LOL. Hey dawg! Lemme tell ya’ teens just love it when parents try to use the latest slang and hip IM terms. They especially enjoy it if you use those terms around their friends. You go girl! You’ll earn lots of props for this.

Number 3: Be Conspicuous. When picking your teen up from an event, it’s always nice to hang out of your car window waving and shouting greetings to all the boys and girls you recognize from elementary school, even if your teen no longer hangs out with them.
“Moooomm!” She’ll hiss climbing into the passenger seat. “I don’t even know him anymore!”
“He’s such a nice boy, you can’t say a simple hello?”
For some reason, this statement is greeted with deep sighs and enthusiastic eye-rolling.

Number 2: Telling Stories. Let’s say your teen is having a bunch of friends over. A great thing to do, is to share baby stories about her with all her friends. Anything concerning potty training or thumb sucking is always a big hit.

And the NUMBER ONE way to embarrass your teen?

Just breathing, baby! LOL.