This legend of a mum teaches us how to deal with a teenager

If you think you’ve got it bad with a bawling, sleep-resistant newborn, a toddler throwing a tantrum on a peak hour bus, or a threenager yelling that you need to have a time out, steel yourself for life in about 10 years, when your child turns 13. We don’t want to say you have no idea what you’re in for, but you have no idea what you’re in for.

The ways of teenagers require next level parenting, and this California mum has written the rule book.

It was a hectic school morning at Nicole Poppic’s house. Her two youngest were dressed and ready to leave. Alex, 10, hates being late for school, and Sammi, 4, had class photos that day.

Enter the teenager

And then there was the teenager, 14-year-old Cara, who wreaked hormone-fuelled havoc on everything and everyone. She engaged in the trifecta of teenager behaviour: sleeping late, talking back to her mum and pretending her mum didn’t exist.

Poppic is the first to say that Cara is a good kid. She’s a skilled pianist and an honour roll student, but even an honour roll student has a bad morning sometimes.

According to Poppic’s blog, on the drive to school, she talked to Cara about being considerate and about not making her siblings late. Her lecturing had reached a fever-pitch when she heard Cara’s favourite band playing softly. She looked over to see a sight familiar to parents of teenagers: her daughter with headphones on, staring out the window, ignoring her mother.

Poppic took action. “I reached over and took her phone off her lap, unplugged her headphones and threw her phone out the car window,” she wrote.

Then she dropped her younger children off first, ensuring Cara would be late enough to need a late note for school. This wasn’t just any late note. Poppic explained that her daughter suffers from “teenage-ism”, a condition with sufferers across America, and we’d argue, the rest of the world.

The note read, “Symptoms are multitudinous, but this particular morning, she suffered from an inability to remove herself from her bed, and also felt the need to talk back to her birth-giver.”

Poppic revealed that the punishment seemed to be having the desired effect. She finished the note by saying, “She seems to be recovering her senses after watching her cell phone fly out the car window.”

At school, Cara refused to hand in the note, so Poppic replied, “OK then we will take it in there,” and she practically frogmarched Cara to the office. The attendance clerk was quiet; an amused smirk was the only thing that betrayed her calm demeanour. Cara was given a late slip and sent to class.

Before you assume that Poppic sacrificed a device that normally costs upwards of $500, take heart. On the way home, she retrieved the phone from the neighbour’s yard where it had landed, dried off the dew and confiscated it for four days before returning it to her daughter.

To all parents of young kids, we recommend you file this story away to use in the future as part of your arsenal of teenage-wrangling techniques. You’re going to need it!

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