Is This You? Reasons vs. excuses for teenagers

I try not to generalize. You know, use the words “everyone,” “always” or “never” in describing the latest central point in any current tirade that’s the front runner of the conversation I may be embroiled in. Ahem, however, yes however, in trying to get my point across, (which translates into getting my way) sometimes (always) I might stretch the facts to include more interested parties (everyone) into occasionally (never) doing as I do, but rather do as I say. For example:

Let’s say one time I missed a curfew. Yes curfew. That time in your life when the heads of the household would tell the underlings they need to be in the house by a certain time. In our house, until we became teenagers that time frame of, “Be home before the streetlights come on, young lady,” was boomed at me each evening as I went out to gallivant after dinner. Upon becoming a teenager the times changed from 9 to 10:30 p.m., and so on until the night I stayed out all night after high school graduation and I met my father clearing his throat at the door, as he was leaving for work and I was coming home. That pivoting point not only ended all future curfews; it also started me on the trip of adulthood as it was soon after that I moved to my first apartment. Reason being the excuse I used was not acceptable. Perhaps I should have tried to excuse my behavior with a good reason. Ah, reason-excuse turned to excuse-reason. I might not have been cut out of the will had I just knew this secret! Oh, I worked my way back into the will — over time!

There are some doozy excuses. Of course the ever popular, “The dog ate my homework.” But how about, “I didn’t eat the liver because the dog ate it.” Neither one worked. There was always more homework to do and always more liver to eat. Yuck, sorry liver and bacon lovers. (To me liver is one thing that even bacon can’t fix).

If you had a parent who became exasperated with your lack of time keeping, you may have heard, “Excuses, excuses will you ever run out of excuses?” Well, yes, yes I did run out of excuses. That’s when I converted to reasons.

Now reasons do need to be reasonable excuses. There’s a conundrum. But it’s an art, this coming up with reasonable excuses. You just can’t go willy-nilly in to a rundown of why you were out until the wee hours of the morning, watching a movie that ended at around 10 p.m. The run out of gas, had a flat tire, got lost are all well and good. But to be a good reasonable excuse there needs to be some sort of flare to your tale of woe. Like, “I had to take a friend home who lived like 50 miles away and then since it was so far to drive back a nap was needed as to not have any accidents by falling asleep at the wheel then of course I had to stop for gas and a snack and ran into an old friend so we talked for a while then all of a sudden the sun came up and voila a new day was upon me and I headed home as soon as I realized it was so late — uh, early.”

I have to admit as it was coming out of my mouth I didn’t even believe it. But it was reasonable and there were a few safety factors built in so it passed muster with the mother. She probably had a hard time keeping a straight face.

And that’s what parents do with excuses. Keep a straight face. The probability of a parent having already heard the excuse you toss out is close to 100 percent. But in the long run of life they are just really glad their little chickadee, aka you, are home safe and sound. Back tucked into their nest. All comfy and cozy — and tethered to the tree with a strip of leather that even a blow torch couldn’t cut!

It takes time to rebuild your good standing after a whopper of a reasonable excuse is put on the table. But it can be done. Do get home on time, do extra chores, don’t ask for money, don’t complain about watching the news — soap operas — learning channel, etc. on TV all the time, do your homework, eat you liver. Sorry for that last one. Parents don’t expect everything to be smooth sailing. But if you do eat your liver you will certainly get their attention!

Trina Machacek lives in Eureka, Nevada. Her book ITYBITS can be found on Kindle. Share your thoughts and opinions with her at


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