I saw it about four times today while I was shopping—the teenage eyeroll. I’ve been the recipient of it, too and, surprisingly, it was in the same context I saw it today.
Mom, holding her phone, asks the son a question.
He responds, pointing quickly at buttons on the phone.
She looks at him, puzzled, and opens her mouth to ask another question.
Then…wait for it—the eyeroll. It happens as he reaches for her cell phone with a sigh that says, “I’ll just do it myself.”
For a while, I just put up with the eyeroll. But it was strange; I felt our roles reverse. My mind went back to the preschool years. I went through all the mental images and stories in my mind, searching for Mom in the midst of an eyeroll.
So as my son reached for my phone (or laptop or mp3 player), I looked at him and said, “Look, I really appreciate your help. I’m just learning this thing and I do want to learn it. But I don’t appreciate your attitude when I ask for help.”
Another slight eyeroll and shake of the head. “Sorry, Mom,” he said reluctantly.
“No, wait a minute. You know, when you were learning your ABCs, I don’t recall ever ripping the pencil from your hand, rolling my eyes, and saying, ‘Oh, just let me do it.’ Do you?”
He grinned. A little.
“If I had, would you ever have learned to write yourself? So let me learn.”
Now he smiled a real smile. “Okay, Mom. I get it.”
Lessons in respect don’t stop when they’re teens. Sometimes we have to reinforce daily, in small ways.
And without eyerolls.