PARENTING. It's the greatest joy you'll ever have as a human being. Right?
The joy of seeing your children in your arms for the first time, the first words, those first steps. Ahhhh.
You know that sound of a record suddenly having the needle dragged off the vinyl? Yeah, that one.
Then they grow into teenagers.
The joy of seeing your children in your arms, (asking for money). The first words (when they ask for money). Those first steps (to take money out of my wallet eg: "It's for stuff Dad!")
You see a pattern here?
As if Justin Bieber tickets weren't expensive enough this week (which totally ruled out our grocery shopping for the week), sadly kids can't legally work until they are 14 years and 9 months. Now I know child labour laws are strict these days but my kids need to get a job, and the sooner the better.
When I was my son's age (16) I was up to my third part time job and at 17 left home for the bright lights of Brisbane.
How do you think your kids would fare at 17 if they left home?
I had a paper round (ask your parents what that is kids) after school in grade eight where I delivered The Telegraph in Toowoomba come rain or shine.
Believe me, you haven't known fear till you've ridden a bike laden with newspapers during one of our famous Summer storms.
The pay was terrible but it taught me at a young age how good it felt to get paid on a Friday for a job well done. How do you teach that to kids? It's priceless.
I don't think anyone today ever plans to leave home before they are 30, and why would they?
They have superfast internet, their meals are made for them and clean undies turn up thanks to the 'Laundry Fairy' who magically makes them appear each day at the end of the bed.
There was a time when I used to think having young kids was hard, realising that having a baby in the house was the toughest thing I've ever done. How wrong I was.
I remember being a teenager, and it's got me thinking 'was I ever that messy, smelly and moody?'
Sure, one day in 1985 I threw out my bed, choosing to sleep on a mattress on the floor, and spent most of my nights sitting in my room listening to The Cure and The Smiths who sang songs like 'Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now'.
Yup, cheery stuff huh? #StillBetterThanBieber
Teenagers today need to learn the value of a good day's pay for a good day's work, but with so much technology, the standard of living and everything given to them, is it too late?
Of course, as parents, my wife and I have tried taking things away, but separate a mobile phone from anyone aged 12-25 is like cutting off their hand. They are totally lost without it, and all forms of communication within their social circle grinds to an instant halt. Trust me, it's not worth the hassle of being asked 3,871 times a day if they can have their phone back. They seriously cannot function without it, as the effect of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) kicks in to massive levels.
So what's the answer? I thought that as I approached this stage of middle age my wife and I would be looking forward to having the house to ourselves, but we're realising that that's not going to happen.
A friend of mine wanted her son to leave home, to find his place in the world, so she told him that if he wasn't out by the time he was 21 her and her partner were going to become full time nudists.
Now THAT is genius.
I'm going to use that idea, and have told all our friends who are in the same boat to feel free to do the same.
Hang on a minute.
Maybe that's why the house over the road is up for sale. Hmmm.....
What do you think Parents of Ipswich?
Am I being too harsh on teenagers? Darren.firstname.lastname@example.org