Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Accounting Firm of Tween, Tween & Tween

I once had a boss who described his philosophy of teamwork as a system of credits and debits.

Basically, you have an interpersonal bank account with each of your colleagues. If you do them a favor, put in that extra effort, or make them look good in front of a client, you get credit. If you need something from them or if you snap at them (because — hello? — maybe you're 8 months pregnant and they edited your copy without telling you), your account is debited.

This quid pro quo system, which he described in far more words than I've used here (and in one of those annoying I'm-going-to-speak-very-slowly-and-deliberately-because-I-think-you're-not-as-smart-as-me voices), always seemed a little cold. I mean, the accountability of it all appeals to me on some level. But, shouldn't a team work well together because we're all on the same mission? Or, gasp, maybe because we actually like what we're doing and each other.

At any rate, I've never really embraced this approach running my own agency. Then again, it might be due to the fact that we've been too busy actually working together for the past nine years to stop and do that kind of accounting.

Recently, I was reminded of this old boss's theory when I realized just how low my parental credit score is. It occurred to me that, as the mother of a tween ...

I get very little credit.

I'm not talking about appreciation. Actually, I get plenty of appreciation of the "Thank you so-o-o-o-o-o much, Mom" variety. If I agree to a last minute request to hang out at someone's house, a cross-country schooling lesson, an extra hour with the latest Gossip Girl book before bed, even a McFlurry on the way home, I get an immediate (and seemingly sincere) "Gracias, Mamacita." My daughter has manners; she does use the word "Please." She even sends handwritten thank you notes, to the amazement and delight of all of her relatives.

So, it isn't a matter of being unappreciated (oh, I'm under-appreciated, certainly, but all mothers are). The problem is this appreciation, when I do get it, is short-lived. Extremely short-lived. In fact, where appreciation is concerned, my daughter seems to have an acute case of memory loss. And, consequently, yours truly never has any credit.

You would assume that my account would be in very good shape by now. After all, pretty much everything I have done for the past 13+ years has been with one goal in mind: to make my daughter healthy and happy. Let's start with day one. We're talking double-digit hours of Pitocin-induced labor. For any readers who haven't had the pleasure, Pitocin (which was surely invented by a man), increases uterine contractions and makes labor "more productive" (a euphemism for PAIN, penned, no doubt, by a man). You also have less time between contractions; there's no gradual up or down; the PAIN is pretty much constant. PAIN, PAIN, PAIN. (Did I mention that there must be a man behind this?)

Now, I don't expect my daughter to remember that particular day. Or, the trouble I had nursing. Or, the eye infection she brought home from the hospital when she was three days old. Or, croup. Or, the six months when she refused to sleep through the night. These are "Mommy's Secret Credits." I keep them safely locked inside so I can dwell on them when I'm feeling particularly martyred.

But, it would be nice if my daughter maybe, occasionally, sometimes, once-in-a-blue-moon acknowledged all the homework help, all the term papers, all the ridiculous art projects. It would be nice if she noted how many miles I have put on my car driving her to dance, gymnastics and swim lessons. It would be nice if she thought about the fact that I spend an unbelievable amount of my time, money and energy ensuring that she can spend an equally unbelievable amount of time with the horses she loves.

Sigh. It would be nice, but it ain't gonna happen.

Then there are the smaller, discreet calculations. When I won't buy her a $40 Glee Live 2011! tee shirt, she conveniently forgets that I already spent considerably more than that on the Glee Live 2011! tickets. When I insist she clean her room because we have guests coming for the weekend, she has no recall of the eighteen thousand times I've made her bed for her. And, when I tell her to get off her phone, she has complete amnesia about who bought her the phone in the first place.

Whether it's the major investments or the day-to-day transactions ... at the Bank of Tween these days, I am somehow overdrawn. But, this is a long-term financial strategy. I have faith that sooner or later my little CFO will add it all up and realize how much she owes me.

Until then, I'll just keep making deposits.

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