Contributed by Tona Arth-Rowett

I’m a new stepmom. This is really cool, because I never thought I’d get the opportunity to parent, and now in my 40’s, I’m opened to a whole new world of experiences. The kids are 5 and 12, so my experiences are on a pretty broad spectrum.

One of the aspects of children that is constantly amazes me is how they take in and process the world—everything that’s happening around them from the same old, same old, to the brand new. At the age of 5, they spit out a relatively unfiltered analysis. Not so by age 12—she’s mastered the art of filtering!

And so one of my favorite aspects of preteen creativity develops—the art of excuse making. Her dad and I marvel at the elaborateness of them sometimes:  “I was about to brush my teeth when the cat jumped on my face and started biting it, which meant I had to get an ice pack, and you know it’s impossible to brush your teeth when you’ve just applied ice to your face for 2 minutes—it advances the development of cavities. And so, I’ve just finished waiting the recommended 5 minutes, and I’m going to brush my teeth right now.” I keep trying to point out to her that her dad and I are extremely savvy b-s-ers—we can see through the excuses, because we probably used them a time or two. Of course, this is futile. Because we’re parents, we can’t possibly know what we’re talking about.

I think I need to start embracing this creativity and channeling it, instead of just trying to rebuke it!  Help her apply the same level of quick-thinking to the real challenges that face her in school and life. Why is it that she can come up with an elaborate excuse for not brushing her teeth, but she can’t explain to me her answer to her math homework. Why on earth did she answer that Jeanette and her friends would only travel .15 miles after traveling for 8 hours, making it 1/3 of the way to their destination? She didn’t think to see if her answer to that math question MADE SENSE! All I can say is, Jeanette better take her take her car to a good mechanic, because her speedometer must be broken.

Tona (Arth) Rowett graduated from EHS in the class of 1988. She currently resides in Springfield, MO, and is an adjunct professor at Missouri State University in the Department of Marketing. She’s got her hands full–in addition to teaching, she’s starting a new advertising agency, Smart Group, targeted at food companies with an environmental or social mission, plus she’s a full-time stepmom to two!