It is downright balmy here in Oregon compared to many parts of the country currently experiencing temperatures that don’t even start with an actual number because it’s so cold there has to be a symbol first and the minus sign was in use long before the far more appropriate hands-clasped-to-cheeks-open-mouth holy crap! emoticon, but it IS January and therefore the Great Thermostat Wars have been underway for many weeks.

I hate to be a living cliché but I like it much warmer than John and thus we are constantly at odds over the right winter temperature setting. Admittedly it is hard to argue with his point that the person who is cold can always put on more layers but my feeling is that since he has repeatedly chosen hobbies that involve being cold — winter hunting, SCUBA diving, snow camping — he clearly doesn’t mind it. Like Elsa, he welcomes the discomfort of low temperatures, therefore shouldn’t the house environment be geared towards the person who does not at all enjoy the sensation of impending frostbite?

Plus, I feel like the entire point of living in a house is so that you have shelter from all the unpleasant elements of the great outdoors. Isn’t that why we all get so frustrated when fruit flies take over the kitchen? You’re like: UM I DON’T THINK SO YOU’RE AN OUTSIDE THING. Being inside means you shouldn’t have to bat aside clouds of insects all day, startle a grizzly bear when you stumble to the bathroom in the middle of the night, or be forced to wear sixteen sweatshirts plus a pair of novelty fuzzy socks.

He has rudely drawn attention to the fact that his parents infamously keep their house at a temperature I can only describe as “a broiler set to high which is also on the surface of the sun” and my habit of bumping up our thermostat may be linked to my recent inability to switch between peering at a phone and peering at a faraway object without ten full minutes to adjust, meaning I am chilly because I am getting old, but 1) I’m setting the damn thing to 68 degrees here, not 5 MILLION, and 2) shut right up before I whack you with my cane.

We usually find a compromise but of all the deeply lame forms of rebellion I enjoy these days my favorite might be watching his truck pull out of the driveway then heading straight to the little Honeywell box on the wall. SIXTY-NINE, BITCHES.

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One of the difficult things about having older kids is the uncomfortable realization that the person you fiercely love with every molecule in your body is kind of an asshole.

See, this is different from when they were a toddler and constantly acted like an asshole, because even in the depths of dealing with an stage that’s basically like parenting a living Trump tweet there is a sane corner of your mind that remembers the asshole-ness isn’t their fault. They’re hungry, or tired, or the rapidly branching synapses in their brains have clanged into one another, or whatever. Your toddler may be screeching or throwing food or biting the soft underpart of your forearm with the jaw force of a lyssavirus-stricken raccoon but they’re simply not old enough to be an asshole.

It’s true that tweens are buffeted by even more savage developmental hurricanes, what with the hormones and emotional rollercoasters and emerging crises of self-identity and so on, but now they wear the same shoe size you do and so when a giant almost-teenager starts being shitty it doesn’t feel like a glitch in the system, it feels like 100% authentic, grade-A assholism.

Tantruming is a thing of the past, but now I have to navigate contempt (“Right, like you would know”), exhausting arguments (“So you’re saying [insanely extreme thing I most definitely did NOT say]??? Well I guess you just want me to [bizarre example that in no way is ever going to happen]!!!”), and emotional manipulation (“You’re going to the gym? Oh. I just thought we were going to do something fun today *heavy sigh*”). It’s one thing to be faced with the unpleasant but involuntary reactions of a helpless child, it’s another to deal with the deliberate tactics of the ASSHOLE.

At our house, bouts of Extreme Asshole Behavior are thankfully brief so far, but when we’re in it I am not at all able to consider the many potential factors affecting his attitude, I’m too busy worrying that I have in fact raised a for-real and not-temporary asshole. Then I feel bad because I love this asshole so very, very much and sometimes when I look at him I still see the tiny baby he once was and so my reaction is sort of like:

Eventually, he always goes back to being the funny, loving, and all-around awesome kid he is. In most ways I feel like this whole parenting gig is a million times better than when they were little, but when things get tough it’s not about someone being a challenge or fussy or spirited, it’s a whole new world: Planet Asshole.

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