I think it’s fair to say there’s a bit of a shitstorm brewing in our happy home right now.
And look, I’m probably to blame. I thought the unthinkable. Then I said it out loud, to my husband, as he was deep (and somewhat appropriately) in an episode of Bloodline.
“I think (let’s call her Violet, because she is being pretty vile at the moment) should start paying rent next year.”
Oh. My. God.
His face. I might as well have said I was booking her in for a three-week immersion in an ice den.
Here’s the deal: she’s 17 and about to do her HSC. She doesn’t have a clue what she wants to do when she finishes school. But I have a very strong suspicion that whatever is, it features living with us, blissfully free of those pesky costs that, you know, allow you to actually survive. Like food. Or in her case, her phone, which now sits firmly in the column headed ‘Things covered by mum and dad’.
And here’s the real bitch – I think her dad might see things the same way. Because if she has to tip into the family coffers it might mean **HORRORS** she’s actually growing up.
He is appalled by my “tightarse-ness”.
Have I forgotten our teen is a Very Precious Angel?
“Teens” and “rent” are like combining “toothpaste” and “chardy”. Or “vodka” and “good decisions” (which might have been what led to my lapse of judgement in using the R-word in the first place).
Anyway, they apparently don’t mix. Not if you’re a caring parent. Not if you want your darling to EVER recover from the stress of doing the HSC, or – something much more top of mind – schoolies. Not if you can remember the good old days and all the things your parents did for you (which, it’s true, did not include paying rent).
Suffice to say the subject is causing some
screaming stony silences debate.
But am I really being so unreasonable?
She’s had a job at a local cafe since she was 14 and of course she’s kept her earnings from there. We’ve happily supported her through everything she’s wanted to do: music classes, sport camps, holidays with her cousins.
But next year, she’ll officially be an adult, complete with the right to draw penises on her ballot paper, wash her own sheets or (please god!) hook up with some friends and get an overpriced flat of her own. And I think we’ll be the ones found wanting if we don’t introduce her to how things really are, barring marriage to one of the rich tools of Instagram or the ranga prince (Harry).
I remember when I was 17. My fiscal plan for adulting looked something like this: get paid. See bands. Buy clothes. Buy car. See friends. Get paid again.
It was a bit of a shock when the reality was this: get paid. Pay rent. Chip into house kitty. One night at the pub. Eat beans. Pray for payday.
The majority of teenagers are now rejecting typical gender and sexual norms. Post continues below…
That might be how it is for her too (god knows, I get nostalgic enough about it). But if it is, I don’t want it to be a surprise.
So this is what I’m thinking. If she decides on uni, she gets to live at home with free board, but picks up the tab for her clothes and phone and whatever else she wants beyond a roof, food and internet.
And she cleans her room.
If she gets a job, she pays a percentage in board. Maybe 15 per cent, maybe 20, but in either case waaaay under the market rate. She still pays for her clothes and phone. And she still cleans her room.
My husband will still say I’m unreasonable. You tell me. Am I?
Because what I’m really trying to say to her is honey, welcome to your new world. It might cost a bit more, but it’s going to be pretty great.