Chacos column: 5 reasons I will soon be fired as CEO of my own home
Enjoy the Ride
Over 14 years ago, I started work at a bustling startup. Now I’m about to get the ax. Looking back at my overworked and underpaid role over the years, I am nostalgic at having to say goodbye to a position that I’ve come to revere.
My job began humbly, serving simultaneously as nurse and sanitary technician working the graveyard shift for three formidable toddlers within a three-year span. I could easily change diapers quickly and efficiently, except for that one time a turd rolled aimlessly around the backseat of my uptight brother’s car in the parking lot of a Dunkin’ Donuts. At the time, getting a cup of coffee was infinitely more important than having soiled his leather-seated Benz.
I quickly moved up the professional ladder and became a short order cook, crossing guard, lifeguard and diabetic specialist all in the same summer. My steep learning curve opened up many doors, and I was proud to also become a tutor, an Uber driver, a seamstress and a weekend ATM. I have an impressively long, well-rounded resume.
Nonetheless, I’ve been given stern warnings for not performing adequately to the unwritten rules set forth by adolescents everywhere.
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1. They’re now looking for a consultant, not a manager
The youth in my home need someone to provide clear boundaries complemented with a healthy dose of compassion. My performance review in this department has been less than stellar. For instance, this weekend I questioned my teen asking if she had all the necessary equipment needed for her lacrosse tournament.
Indeed, my incessant interrogation was fruitless. My daughter forgot a toothbrush, water bottle, socks and eye-protection. She called me a nag. I was flabbergasted.
Adding salt to the obvious wound my daughter’s teammates would naturally inflict on her for being late and unprepared, I heaped on every curse word in my arsenal to make my daughter feel worse than necessary. In retrospect, I should have turned the tables and asked her how she would like to fix her problem. Instead of being the sounding board and adviser required for the role, I bombed the interview. She slammed the car door demanding to have a supportive mother instead.
2. The position requires a listener
Dispensing unwanted advice has been an idle pastime rooted in my family for generations. So when I see the expanded job description required for parenting teens, I shudder at the thought that I may have to keep my advice to a minimum. I know that every time I offer up a golden nugget of my hard-earned wisdom, I’m sending the message to my child that he or she isn’t smart enough to solve the problem without me.
Then, when I merely want to make small talk and ask about my kids’ day at school, I’m met with audible sighs and shoulder shrugs. I’m learning that nothing makes my middle son clam up faster than trying to make him share when all he wants to do is turn inward and figure it out for himself. I know he is just trying to build his independence. However, right before I’m about to catch up on the latest episode of Game of Thrones, he decides that is the perfect time to debrief about his weekend. The timing sucks, but my new job is to listen, hold my tongue and stay connected whenever the moment becomes available. I will try.
3. Learning to be at peace with just a high-five and a smile
My family is used to hugs, kisses and conversation about any topic, anywhere. However, this no longer sits too well with my teenagers or their friends. I’m beginning to feel like an infectious disease, with pubescent children darting and dodging whenever I approach with my outstretched arm. Even my youngest asks for space a lot of the time, except when I sneakily offer to give him a back rub while I let him watch his favorite TV show. To get the new job, I’m learning to give a “side hug” coupled with an off-the-cuff “I Love You,” like it was merely an afterthought.
4. Understanding the brain behind adolescent risk-taking
I understand the teenager’s impressive ability to possess poor judgment, thrill-seeking behavior and impulsivity. That’s because I’m an adult who sometimes acts that way, too. The difference is that the teen brain needs so much more dopamine in order to feel pleasure as their brain is still changing, maturing and under constant neural reconstruction. Consequently, teens are under siege of their emotions and will inevitably make so many more poor decisions than adults. This reminds me to think twice before I let my kid scale the steep roof of the house to retrieve a missing toy.
5. It’s about routine, routine, routine
Unfortunately, I’ve been honing the ability to cruise in just a few minutes before school, an assembly, game or appointment looking like I just fought off a honey badger. If I’m still a candidate for the new CEO position, they’ll have to take this requirement off the table because sustaining a routine is a hard “no.”
Nonetheless, I will still eagerly apply for the position for the overqualified, confident, fun-loving, patient, compassionate, risk-adverse individual who will happily toil in a demanding, often nonrewarding job as the creative specialist, spiritual guru, philanthropist, and adviser for a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants family. Independently wealthy, likes to travel, and bilingual a plus, but not required. Position available immediately, obviously.
Knowing how hard the position is to fill, I anticipate sliding right in to get some required and necessary, on-the-job training. I start tonight.
Andrea Chacos lives in Carbondale, balancing work and happily raising three children with her husband. She strives to dodge curveballs life likes to throw with a bit of passion, humor and some flair.
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