Prove That You’re Responsible.

I can’t imagine that this will ever end.

My teenager insists that he is being responsible. I’ve given him a list of maybe forty things that need to be done consistently, that will prove that he’s responsible.

Dylan doesn’t do those things. Yet, he insists he is responsible.

“The substrate in your crab tank needs to be changed every six months,” I told him – three years ago. He never changed it. So I put it on the list, “Change crab tank” – to be done “by July 13.”

On July 12, since he’d made no effort to do even a little bit of changing the crab tank early, I highlighted the entry on the list, and left it by his door overnight. Still, he did nothing.

At 3:15 in the afternoon, I reminded Dylan about the crab tank. In spite of myself, I reminded him to get it done. The note outside his door was insufficient. The highlighted list was insufficient. The original list was insufficient. The reminders throughout the years were all insufficient.

Dylan said, “I’ll do that right now.” Because now, his back was up against the wall. Prove that you’re responsible. DO the crab tank by the end of TODAY! There were no more excuses; there was no more time to delay. Dylan hadn’t done it, and now he had no choice but to do it.

Unfortunately, crabs molt. And when they are molting, they can’t be disturbed. So having three years (and six weeks) to add substrate was also insufficient. A crab was molting, so the crab tank was not going to get done ON July 13.

Dylan panicked. “I looked it up,” he said, making yet another excuse to “prove” that he’s responsible. “I can still do it today and it won’t hurt the crabs.” (It’s always good to find a place on the internet that agrees with you.)

I pointed out that Dylan also didn’t do other things on the list. He was supposed to be regularly practicing for the SAT tests in the fall. Dylan claims that he has done that several times this summer. (Odd that he’s never done it when I was around.)

He was supposed to wear his retainer every night. The list said it “should feel weird going to bed without it.” I can count the number of times on one hand that Dylan’s worn his retainer. In fact, when he went away for a week, he didn’t even bother to take it with him. Dylan’s response? “I made a plan by myself that will help me remember to wear my retainer.” It’s been more than a year since Dylan stopped wearing braces. And he’s just now devised a plan that will help? I sure hope this one works!

Dylan’s also supposed to not be using his phone during family times. When I pointed out that he was still lapsing into phone usage during family times, he denied, denied, denied. “Whenever you tell me to put it away, I do!”

So, the way Dylan sees it, the list says:

  • Clean crab tank whenever it’s convenient for you (which is really never)
  • Practice for SAT tests once in awhile, and only when trying to prove that you’re responsible
  • Wear your retainer whenever you remember (which is almost never)
  • Make a plan to wear your retainer, which should hold Mom at bay for awhile
  • Put phone away quickly when asked during family times

This is not the way I wrote the list. And yes, I remember the blog I wrote a few weeks ago, about his ADHD behaviors making him seem irresponsible.

It’s no less frustrating.

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