Housewife Theologian

The Gospel Interrupting the Ordinary

Make Yourself a Dang Quesadilla

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Jun• 20•14

enhanced-buzz-21791-1363899804-10This photo from awkwardfamilyphotos.com is a work of art. It truly captures the adolescent culture that we have been perpetuating. All it needs is a cell phone somewhere stuck to the overgrown kid. And I emphasize the word we because I am certainly guilty.

I had a clarifying moment the beginning of the last school year. I call it the “pizza revelation.” In the middle of pulling off mom-juggling miracles, I asked my 14-year-old daughter to take a pizza out of the oven. Immediately she began complaining about how she was going to burn herself or drop the blessed Pampered Chef pizza stone. In complete disbelief, I told her to just take the dang pizza out of the oven already. In the middle of our bickering she replies, “Never mind, Katie’s got it!” Katie’s parents are divorced and she is a much more independent kid. This is the moment I realized that my happy-housewife-loving was crippling my children.

My husband and I have made some changes since then, but we are still struggling with the line between enabling our kids to enjoy their childhood, and preparing them to be responsible adults. Because really, we don’t want to raise permanent adolescents. I am embarrassed to say that just this week I ran my daughter back and forth to the high school for volleyball “camp” 15 times (and made special breakfasts and lunches for her each day), Matt has taken our middle daughter to softball all-stars practice every night for three hours (and helped coach), I’ve taken my son to MMA lessons twice, and my Matt is going camping with him for MMA this weekend. In between all that, I am trying to keep some kind of healthy dinnertime schedule, and there is the whole social life to manage for teenage girls. Everyday Matt and I have a barrage of decisions to make about what we are going to facilitate and allow our girls to do with their friends.

There’s also a whole can of drama that permeates a teenager’s social life. Matt and I can’t believe some of the issues that we are already talking to our children about. These are great opportunities for maturing, both for us parents and our children. In this case, Matt and I are tempted to be the ones with our eyes closed. We are also tempted to blindfold our teenagers and carry them through all these messes unscathed. This stage of parenting is so difficult. As our children grow and participate in the world, considerable measures of their innocence and naivety must shed. And that is much more painful for the parents than the kids, I think. I have been thinking a lot about God’s purposes in sanctifying us in the world (but not of it), and not in some Christian, separatist bubble.

And of course there is our church life as well. This week is pretty tame in that area with a youth group and a men’s group meeting, both on Sunday. Which brings me to family devotions. This awkward family photo illustrates another way I can over-coddle. My kids are too old to spoon-feed them their devotional time as well. So we are mixing things up a bit. I bought them each a summer journal, and we are all doing the same Scripture readings, but the kids have to do some of the lifting on their own. Instead of Matt and I asking all the questions and perfectly shaping each answer, we have them journaling their answers for us to discuss later. They have to carve some time in the beginning of their day to either read independently or with one another before Matt and I get to them.

Too often the kids don’t grow up because the parents aren’t ready to mature to the next stage. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not ready! But I have to do it anyway. The title of my post is a line from Napoleon Dynamite. When he is complaining to his grandma for not being there to make him dinner, she blurts out, “Knock it off Napoleon! Make yourself a dang quesadilla.” And she pronounces it, Kase-a-dilla. It’s a line we throw around the house all the time. As funny as it is to say, it really is my job to prepare my kids to actually become adults. Maybe I will write it in their high school graduation cards, “Now knock it off and go make yourself a dang quesadilla.”

 

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15 Comments

  1. Kim Shay says:

    My kids each took over their laundry responsibilities when they were 12. My mother said I would waste laundry soap. I thought it was worth the money. My kids all had no problem with laundry when they left home. My daughter, at 24, said her roommate was astounded that when she comes home I don’t do her laundry. There are things I wish my kids were more self-sufficient with, but now that they’re on their own, they’re learning. It’s good to release the boundaries while they’re at home, because then you’re there to help out if need be.

    • Aimee Byrd says:

      Kim, I have been going back and forth with this one–because I don’t want to waste soap and water. I think you are right, it’s worth it!

      • Lauren says:

        Mine started their own laundry at 12 and dinner one night each week. Our job is to prepare them to be independent. Like the journaling idea.

        • Tim says:

          My dad had me cooking the family dinner one night each week when I was 13. My sisters stopped complaining about having hot dogs and sauerkraut every week as soon as dad told them they were welcome to take over my cooking duties.

  2. karenciavo says:

    Why is it so dang hard to let them make their own quesadillas? (we use that line here too along with various lines from Firefly, LotR, Princess Bride, Pride & Prejudice, and the Godfather.) I pretty much raised myself due to inept parents. While I don’t recommend that lifestyle I do appreciate some of what it taught me. But when it comes to my own children it’s been hard to let go (You’re only 18, you want to go to Italy without me =:-O) Even though I want that for them. So along with all the other battles that rage within me, yup, free range kids is right up there.

  3. Amy, these are excellent thoughts. And issues I have been noticing in our parenting as well. In wanting to really mother my children, I can disable some necessary growth.

  4. Melissa Kruger says:

    Yes – completely agree. Thank you for this article Aimee!

  5. Tim says:

    I love that AFP pic at the top, Aimee. We have found that our kids can handle things fine on their own (living away from home, traveling overseas and working in developing countries. But we also did a lot for them growing up that others might think was too much. Oh well, it seems to have worked out OK.

  6. Anna Anderson says:

    Aimee, as I read you post, I so admire all your decisions and the desire and wisdom God has given you and Matt to raise your children. His gracious leading in your parenting pervades your post. I don’t think you succumb to this, but I used to see my role as — do all you can and then expect grace to kick in. Too late, after years of anxious striving, I see Him in it all, working through (and more often despite) my less than holy ambition because of His vested interest in His kingdom. God redeems wasted time and energy to His glory in the lives of His own — He excels at making beauty out of dust in both our children and in us. He can do it ex nihilo, but He more often appoints and empowers agents, to give us, our children, and and a watching world metaphors of His providence. In the end, looking back at poor Son #1, who got the worst of it, God is doing His redeeming work, and before my eyes are the animated truths of Proverbs 19:21 and Romans 11:.33-36.

  7. RStarke says:

    I just wrote about this at my place! The specific challenge with cooking is that it’s a skill that involves things like flame and sharp implements. We spend a decade keeping our kids as far away from those things as possible, and then overnight want them to be able to use them to make us all dinner. :) My kids have been doing laundry since they were toddlers, and yesterday was the first day in thirteen years of parenting that I literally did not cook one meal for them. (Irony – my husband was leading a work dinner, and I was teaching cooking skills to kids in a transitional home.) Like others, both my husband and I grew up in overly hands off homes, so we both learned independence the hard way. I hear you on some of the social stuff, though. Burned fingers are one thing; a seared mind from exposure to pornography? *That’s* what makes me kind of internally hyperventilate.

    Also, love the idea of collective study of the same passage – that’s exactly what we’re doing. For all of its challenges, being in the stage where my girls and I can have deeper conversations about the significance of a passage of Scripture and challenge one another with it? Doesn’t get sweeter than that.

  8. […] Make Yourself a Dang Quesadilla […]

  9. Carla says:

    Awesome post! I wrote about parenting this week too on my blog and my struggles with not wanting my young daughter to get a phone and an Instagram account. I had such a huge response from my readers (almost all supportive!). Then I woke up this morning and read your post. What an encouragement…plus that is one our family’s all time favorite movie quotes! I put a link on my blog to your post encouraging all of my readers to read it and start following you…

  10. Jeannie says:

    This hit home for me, Aimee; thanks for posting! My little guy needs a lot of help because of his special needs, but I still find myself doing way too much for my daughter, who is 15. This summer I hope to spend lots of time with her doing chores & activities together that will help foster her independence. It remains to be seen whether she or I will be the one who finds this process hardest.

    I have to admit I’ve never seen Napoleon Dynamite — and I wasn’t permitted to watch your video because I live in Canada. (Whaaat???) However, I did read some neat Youtube comments like “As a quesadilla, I find this video offensive.”

  11. Dan says:

    Revisiting, just to say I taught my 11-year-old how to make a ques-a-dilla last night!

What do you think?