I have often wished my child had been born with a guidebook. Something to tell me exactly what would work for parenting this particular child. Maybe with an extensive troubleshooting guide for quick reference.
Evidently, I also need a checklist of parenting points, because I seemed to have missed a few.
My dear, sweet 15-year-old casually spit his gum on the ground as we crossed a parking lot this week.
I was shocked. “Pick that up!”
“What?!” he asked me with wide eyes. “What’s the matter?”
“You just spit your gum on the ground. Someone is going to step on it and get gum all over their shoes. Throw it in the trash.”
He looked back at me in complete confusion. “Okay, wow. I don’t know why you’re so upset. I do that all the time.”
I stopped in the middle of the parking lot.
“I do it all the time,” he said, picking up the gum between his fingers.
“You have got to be kidding me! I know I taught you better than that,” I replied.
“You never told me not to spit my gum on the ground,” he said.
“What?!” My mouth gaped open in shock. I was indignant at the mere suggestion that I somehow neglected to teach him such a basic courtesy. “I know I taught you not to spit your gum on the ground!”
“Mom, you have never told me that,” he insisted.
Is this possible? Did I miss such an important life lesson?
I taught him to share, to take turns, to say “I’m sorry”, to whisper in theaters and museums, and not to swing on the ropes while in line at Disney. Surely I covered the whole gum on the ground thing in the chapter on common courtesies toward others.
Yet, he still insists I have never actually said to him, “Do not spit your gum on the ground.”
Okay then, shouldn’t that be inherent? I mean, shouldn’t that be common sense? Isn’t there some way I’m off the hook on this one? He’s an intelligent boy. Shouldn’t he have been able to figure this out after the first time he stepped in hot, melted, nasty gum and it smeared all over his shoe?
Why can’t there just be a checklist to ensure I’ve covered ALL the life lessons in parenting? Brush your teeth. Check. Say please and thank you. Check. Don’t spit your gum on the ground. Check.
So now what else have I missed? What should I be worried about? Other than the number of people cleaning gum off their shoes due to my inept parenting. Oops!