The Supervision Situation.


by Wendy Sachs


“Mommy, last night I had a dream that Ben kissed me!” my six-year-old daughter Lexi told me excitedly, while perched on my bathroom sink, watching me apply my makeup.


“Wow!” I said, nearly impaling my eye with the mascara wand. I was shocked that Lexi just shared her first intimate dream and floored by the coincidence that I, too, had dreamed the night before about a guy kissing me – a guy who was most definitely not my husband.


“Well, was it a good kiss?” I asked, hoping for a few more details….wondering if her kiss was the PG rated High School Musical smooch, or if by some nighttime, subconscious transference, she tapped into my R-rated dream.


“Yes, it was a good kiss…I think,” Lexi said.


“I’m going to tell Ben at school today about my dream.” she said matter-of-factly. “But I’m going to tell him that he doesn’t have to marry me because I am still marrying Justin.”


“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I gently said. “Boys get embarrassed about these things. You can share the dreams with Mommy (yes, I still sometimes speak in the third person to her), but probably best if you don’t mention it to Ben or Justin.”


My kindergarten daughter is already fantasizing about boys. She spends hours talking to her “boyfriend” in the mirror and role playing with her dolls through elaborate tales involving dates, dances and even dashed dreams. And after buying Lexi her umpteenth Gabriella doll at Target, I watched in my rear view mirror on the drive home as she unabashedly made out with the cardboard picture of Troy Bolton that came in the package. My girl has passion and crushes and a creative mind… wonderful qualities I know I should embrace… but she scares me too.


Then there is my moody and complicated 8-year-old son Jonah who is already sequestering himself in his playroom and not letting me listen or watch as he makes up fanciful stories with his Legos. By barricading our family and even our dog out of his play area, Jonah has made it clear that he needs privacy and space…all this and the kid has only lost his two front teeth…not his virginity.


The hormones are still years away from charging through their tiny 45 pound bodies, yet I’m already dreading the inevitable horrors of living with Tweens and then….the ultimate monsters….TEENAGERS. So if you thought that the most important time to be around your children was in the early years when they were potty training and biting other kids on the playground – think again. Apparently there’s no good time to go dark or disappear at work and become a total Slacker Mom.


A recent article in Forbes probed the question about when is the most critical time to take a sabbatical from your career and stay home with your kids….when they are babies or when they are teenagers?



When it was time to go back to work and leave my 5-month old son with his father and a freezer full of breast milk, a La Leche League counselor assured me that he would be fine as long as he was being cared for by someone who loves him. These words underscore what I've come to learn over the last 19 years and with four children, and it is no less, and perhaps more so, than when they're teenagers. Kids need to know that the adults who care for them know what's going on in their lives on a daily basis--not all the details, who wants those? But something about how all the pieces connect all the time. They need the consistency of a place to unload, to let down their guard, to challenge and be challenged, and, no less than when they were infants, to be mirrored so they can see their best selves through the eyes of those who love them. Raising adolescents can present amazing challenges but can also give us opportunities to grow, become more emotionally creative, flexible, self-aware and honest, if we allow it.


I was a stay-at-home mom when my two boys were young, and a full-time working divorced mom when they became tweens/teens. It is very hard to keep track of what they're doing when you're in an office miles away from them, and that bothered me (more than them, I might add).

As my 18-year-old told me recently, there are a lot of things that can go wrong when you're a teen, and he's right. There are. The groundwork, however, is laid when they're young, not as teens.

I'm sorry I'm not around for them now the way I used to be (not sure they are, however) But you don't magically become a hands-on mom when they're teens, nor can you be slacker mom until they move out of the house. But if you ask my mom, she'll say she still can't be a slacker mom ... and I'm middle-aged!