My 9Th Grader Is Making Me Crazy in the Morning / Uber Question

Updated on October 13, 2018
J.B. asks from Boston, MA
13 answers 9th grade son is a monster in the morning. He simply will not get up on time. He takes medication for ADHD that can interfere with his sleep. It's an unfortunate but common side effect of almost all ADHD medication and he agrees that he needs the medication enough to live with this side effect. Mind you, it's not like he really loses a lot of sleep - even on a "bad" night, he gets 7-8 hours. Most nights, he takes melatonin at 8 PM and is asleep by 10 and needs to really be up at 6:45, dressed and down stairs by 7 to have breakfast and get out the door for the bus that comes at 7:20. That's far more sleep than I ever got in high school! And I bring him his ADHD meds at 6:30 am so he takes them in bed, which should start to kick in and help him wake up.

Anyway...he consistently stays in bed way later than he should and comes downstairs less than 5 minutes before the bus comes and runs out the door with no breakfast, often with his shoes in his hands, backpack flying open, etc. Total disaster. I leave for work at the same time so if he misses the bus and can be ready literally 2-3 minutes later, I can drop him off at a spot about a 15 minute walk to school on my way to the train.

This week was the first time this year that he wasn't ready even for a ride with me, so I told him to get himself to school either walking or biking (it's 4 miles) and left. I was surprised when I didn't get a call that said he was tardy (actually I half expected him to say "screw this" and stay home, which would have been a whole 'nother issue). I called school and they confirmed that he had arrived on time. He later told me that a friend with an Uber account called an Uber for him and he paid the kid back the $10 that it cost. He was pretty pleased with himself.

So I'm stumped with what to do now. I'm a big fan of natural consequences. I had hoped that by walking or biking, the inconvenience of that would prompt him to think "hey, that sucked; I'll get up on time instead" but no, he enjoyed his ride to school and didn't mind paying for it. He has spending money from some work he did over the summer and more money in the bank from saving up gifts over the years so the money doesn't bother him yet. Uber isn't supposed to pick up kids his age but if a driver shows up and will bring him, he'll take the ride (and apparently a bunch of high school kids have accounts). Part of me thinks "well, he got himself to school and it didn't cost me anything so, whatever" but part of me feels like hiring a ride is unacceptable and that he's "cheating" somehow and I need to impose additional consequences to push him to get up and get on the bus.

What would you do? Thanks!

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answers from Boston on

Quite a quandary - and I sympathize. We went through something similar with our son in high school. My mother had given him her car (which we were fine with), but after a phase of mouthing off, we informed him that someone so immature would lose access to the car. (Cue the "It's MY car!" and "But I pay insurance and maintenance and gas" conversation.) So, he was told he couldn't drive the next day, and to get up to take the bus (which was apparently the least cool thing he'd ever want to do). Alternatively, he could hitch a ride with neighborhood girls a year older - but he was too shy to ask them. We slept late on purpose so he had to get up, get breakfast, get to the bus stop (next door). Instead, he cajoled a neighbor to drive him! Resourceful, yes, except that he lied saying that we had already left the house. So, he lost the car for another week for lying. It took 2 days for him to be more contrite and turn around his disrespectful tone.

I don't know how much you feel his ADHD requires additional support from you, rather than just taking his lumps and getting all natural consequences. So maybe you still need to give him his meds, and maybe you still need to oversee his use of his funds. I think the ethics of using an Uber if they aren't supposed to is a problem, and I think the safety issue is worth discussing - what is the downside of being a kid in an Uber alone? I suppose you could say that, if he's too young to understand the risks, then you have to step in until he's old enough.

Part of me says, let him use up his money and then deal with the absence of stuff he really wants. But if he has substantial savings, it could take a while for his account to run dry. I also don't know if you would be undermined at all by your ex or the grandparents. If you have exclusive control though, you could move some of his money into another account, saying if he's not responsible enough to go to school to get an education on how to survive in the world, he's too immature to have access to $500 (or whatever it is). You could give him, say, $100 for discretionary income - but that's 10 rides to school and then he's done. Just about the time it's getting cold, you know? I suppose you could go to the parents of the kids with the accounts and say you don't want them to use their accounts for your kid or at least inform them that their kids are lending the accounts to their friends (or at least your son, who paid back once but won't be able to sustain that), but that's labor intensive and doesn't do as much to increase his responsibility sense as much as you might like. It also presumes that you know all the kids and their parents, and that getting the adults involved will work in your favor. I also think, at some point, his friends are going to get sick of bailing him out all the time too, which could either make him shape up or leave him friendless.

Breakfast: A friend has an early departure with 2 kids, one of whom (8th grade) has ADHD & autism. He needs help with the meds and so on. She does a lot of grab-and-go breakfasts, like egg casseroles (with green chilis, or with spinach, or whatever the kids like) that she cuts up like brownies and freezes in single serving packs. Your son could grab something like that to eat on the bus. Perhaps the kids could work with you on Sundays to cook up a week of lunches and breakfasts.

Running out the door with no shoes works on a mild early fall day. It doesn't work in the rain, snow, ice and slush. So perhaps he needs natural consequences there as well. Some of this is his choice to be disorganized, some of it is his ADHD. It's hard to straddle that line.

I went to a teacher/paren workshop many years ago, at which the leader taught the phrase "How unfortunate for you." Kids who got warnings of any sort (wear your gloves to recess, pick up your toys or they'll go to a toy-less kid, get up for school...) and then ignored them and started the wailing of "It's not FAIR!" pity party were met with "How unfortunate for you. I wore my gloves (remembered my lunch, organized my backpack last night...whatever the issue is) and I'm not having any of those problems." It does reinforce that the child's misery is the child's choice. It's one thing when it's a 3rd grader on the playground, unable to use the swings due to no gloves. But you're teaching life skills to someone who's going to be his own in a few years, so the stakes are higher.

Good luck and let us know how this works out!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I guess I don't see anything wrong with the solution he chose. He "paid the piper" by spending his own money, and you didn't have to solve the problem. I'd totally let the natural consequence of running out of money be the solution rather than you basically making the statement "well you didn't solve the problem the way I wanted you to and the lesson wasn't really learned that I wanted you to learn." (I'm saying this in a nice, non-snarky way cause I would totally feel the way that you are feeling if it was me and too close to the situation). Trust me - $10 bucks here and there is really going to add up fast AND he may end up with a driver that won't take him due to his age.

Here is what I would focus on:

1. What will the consequence be if he IS tardy because Uber won't take him, or he calls Uber and they don't show up for a 1/2 hr or whatever. Make sure that he understands that Uber is not an acceptable source of blame and he will have specifically XXX consequence if you get a call that he is tardy and XXX consequence if he blows off school all together.

2. The fact that you are waking a what I am assuming is an around 14 yr old kid to take a pill he himself admits he needs . . . yikes. Put a 7 day tray in his bathroom with the morning med and the melatonin (one in the a.m. slot and one in the p.m. slot) and call it a day. High school is old enough to engage in self-waking and self-medicating management skills. Being diagnosed with ADHD isn't enough to stop him from doing either of these things for himself.

I think you and I are alot alike in some areas - we tend to micromange things a bit "for the good of the team." You did it because you had a jackass of a husband. I did it because I had two special needs kids, one with extremely high needs. Its a survival technique for us in order to feel like we have some control over the world when other important people in our lives took it away from us for so long. Don't micromanage your kids' lives just because it feels comfortable for you. I find myself doing just that at times and have to remind myself that I need to let go a bit in order to keep hanging on . . . this is from one Type A personality to another :)

Good luck!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I understand your frustration at wanting him to "suffer" the consequences more, but honestly if he wants to blow his money on Uber then let him. He's gonna be pretty damn sorry when his money starts running out and he wants to buy something cool.
My 19 yo daughter went through something similar, not wanting to eat what I was cooking and spending a ridiculous amount of money on eating out (sometimes using Door Dash!) She's learned that my cooking is not so bad, especially compared to always being broke from spending her relatively small paychecks on overpriced and ultimately unsatisfying food.

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answers from Norfolk on

Well he came up with an outside the box solution for his problem.
He gets credit for that.
He's going to run out of money for this sooner or later.
I'd let him.
He's going to miss that cash when he wants other things.

In the mean time - move up his bedtime by an hour.
No screen time or devices for several hours before bed - he can read a book if he wants in his room with nothing else to entertain him and then lights go out.
Let him know he WILL got to bed an hour early until he figures out how to wake up on time for school without wasting money on a ride when he can take a bus that's for free.
Keep up his same sleep/wake times during the weekends and holidays too.

Our son really hates the jump out of bed and get out the door routine - though for us that only happened if we lost power and the alarms didn't go off.
He much preferred waking up 1 whole hour before he had to get on the bus - his bus came at 7am.
It gave him a chance to really wake up, to eat breakfast without being rushed - just to really be ready for his day to get started.
With the going to bed earlier routine your son should try getting up earlier - enough so he's not got that adrenaline rush in time for the bus ride.
For us it just makes for a more pleasant morning experience for everyone.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

We went through something similar - not a drive, but they spent money on something that they didn't take care of - and they should have - kind of thing, and although not cheating, it annoyed me. They didn't learn their lesson, except they had to spend their own money and that didn't seem to bother them because they hadn't really learned the value of a dollar at that point.

I hear you. My only thought is, if he keeps doing this and uses up all his savings, then that will eventually teach him a lesson I suppose.

I remember just being frustrated. It's kind of a maturity thing.

My feeling was, they aren't learning, and I had to step in and still be involved more than I felt I had to/should be for a while.

Grade 9 is that year with boys anyhow, where you still have to bug them far more than you feel you should. One of mine was just so disorganized. Not all are - but one was terrible. I would bring fresh sheets to his room, and he'd sleep on his mattress rather than put them on.

I think it's terrible Uber picked him up. That's kind of worrisome.

Now that I think of it, I would say no more rides in Uber (just doesn't sound right) - he has to come up with plan for getting up and ready on time, and maybe some extra chores. I like extra chores to help out rather than taking stuff away. That always make mine groan but at least it's beneficial to the rest of us.

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answers from Dallas on

Ok first of all you never told him he could not take an Uber. You told him he had to get there himself. He was resourceful. Most kids would have said forget it and stayed home but he did not. And it was his money. No that is not a great way for him to get there as he was riding with a stranger. Next time add NO Ubers!
My son has ADHD and when in public school it was a pain to get him up. We don't medicate him but that is our personal choice and I would not judge those who choose that for their kids. The one thing I don't understand if giving it to him in bed to help him wake up. I know when I give my son caffeine which is what we use when he needs to focus it calms him and sometime makes him tired. I would never give it to him in bed as it would not wake him up but make him want to lay back down and go back to sleep.
I do like the idea of having grab and go breakfast for him. That is one less thing to worry about.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Just something to think about:

Both Uber and Lyft prohibit any person under 18 from having an account or arranging for a ride. Anyone under 18 must have someone over 18 with the proper account arrange for the ride and accompany the under-18 person on the ride.

But, it's a growing problem. Parents call for Uber for their kids, and younger-than-18 teens create accounts or use someone else's account and ride alone.

So what is the downside if an Uber or Lyft driver will pick up a 14 year old or 16 year old, violating the company's policy?

For one, insurance, and for a second reason, possible legal problems.

If an Uber driver with passengers all under 18 were to get in an accident, insurance could refuse to pay for anyone's injuries. And if the under-18 rider were to damage the vehicle in some way or cause an accident or wrongfully accuse the driver of something, the rider's parents could possibly be held responsible. If the parents know that their child sometimes takes Uber, and there's an accident or damage, the company could sue the parents, or the parent's insurance could be cancelled, or all kinds of other legal entanglements. It could get very messy and difficult for you if something were to happen. So this Uber thing involves more than just your son and his money. It could cost you tremendously.

My daughter takes more than 20 pills a day, and has for years. She keeps a very annoying alarm by her bed, along with a sectioned pill holder. The alarm blares at 6 am and she takes whatever is in the morning section (carefully measured out the evening before) She also has emergency rescue meds that I keep separate and secure. Her daily pills that she sets out would certainly make her day worse if she skipped some or took the noon ones in the morning, but it wouldn't be a crisis. She knows if she misses one, she'll pay the penalty, with a headache or stomach pain, and she's careful to not miss them.

If your son is functioning in every other way, he should start waking up to take his own medication, and getting out the door with or without shoes when that bus comes, or when you leave. Pretty soon he can get a job, and he'll have to be on time. If you're paying for his phone or internet access, perhaps you can remind him that those are privileges, and he'll soon need to start paying for his own belongings (computer, games, phone, wi-fi) and part of the price of being a teen is being able to simply get up and get to where he's supposed to be in the proper way (bus, train, bike, walking). He needs to start preparing to have a job now, by being responsible for his own behaviors.

While he's transitioning to being more accountable, you can help in small ways, like having a small bag of a granola bar, an apple, etc, that he can just grab and eat when he can. Have some pre-wrapped protein bars that are easy to take in a pocket.

It's hard when an Uber driver will violate the company's policy and give your son a ride, when you're trying to create a sense of accountability.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My 15 yo grandson has ADHD and Aspergers. When he was younger, his parent's had difficulty waking him up. The first call was 15-20 minutes before he had to get up, then another reminder close to time to actually be up. He reluctantly got up. They turned on the light and pulled off his covers. Then they gave him a loud alarm clock. They still told him it was time to get. Now at 15 he is beginning to wake up himself. This seems to be related to setting his alarm on his phone.

When he stays at my home, on his own, gets up in time to be ready to go to school. He didn't like being tardy.

I suggest he began getting up on time when he was in the 9th grade and had more responsibility in other areas. He's a "big kid now." He also has the help of a family 21 year old friend who patiently works with him after school. He is paid by the county because my grandson has
several disabilities.

I'm wondering if your son would benefit by having someone, that your son trusts and llikes, tell him how important being able to wake himself up, give ways to be able to do that. My grandson is learning how to be responsible. Praise helps alot.

I also suggest giving him his meds when he comes into the kitchen. My grandson does that. It may be an incentive to get up.

I believe in natural consequences. I also see that praise and information is equally important. I also wonder how you wake him up. I suggest being cheerful and having 2-3 minutes of positive interaction could help. His parents remind him of what will be happening that day.

I've stayed in the room until my daughter got out of bed. Sometimes saying nothing and sometimes reminding her it's time to get up. I was a single mom and only had one child. You have more morning responsibilities than I have so that might not work for you.

I also suggest your son have a reward when he gets up on time. A reward can be another incentive. Require that he gets up on time to meet the bus every day for a week. Perhaps more screen time, a friend can stay over on the weekend.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I'm wondering if he is using the meds as an excuse to not get out of bed. He might not even realize that he's doing that. I'm wondering if it's time to for him to learn how to suck it up and get out of bed, even if he's tired, just like the rest of us.

I knew a gal in college who said she had sleeping problems just like her dad. She said they both had trouble sleeping and would stay up really late. When she had trouble getting up in the morning, her mom would just let her sleep in. I always wondered what would have happened if she had been forced to get up on time for school every day. Might she have simply learned how to get to bed earlier? Might she then have been tired when it was time for bed?

It's possible that your son really does have sleep troubles because of the meds, but what if he doesn't? What if you told him that he needed to get up on time, no excuses?

I think it's time to let him know that you expect him to be up, dressed and ready to walk out the door by 7:00 am (or whatever time you choose). He CAN do this!!! Don't let him use the medicine as an excuse anymore.

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answers from Kalamazoo on

No more Uber. I would make him get up out of bed to take meds. Maybe have glass of water in bathroom, you wake him up and say time to get up, go take your meds!!! up and at 'em!!! turn light on.

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answers from Santa Barbara on

I agree with Doris Day. Have him get ready the night before. Have some travel breakfast items for days he is not up early enough.

As far a consequence, it's really up to you about what you feel is right. He was inventive and got to school on time. A lecture about safety and cost would be good for him. I have already told my kids when they were 6 and 9, to not take Ubers with friends. I will continue to remind them. Was your son told to not take Ubers without an adult?

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answers from New York on

Answering the Uber part:

Let me ask you this - do *you* take Uber willynilly as you please without thinking twice? No? Why not? Because of house payments and groceries etc? Well why do you spend so much on that stuff...don't you live alone? 😉

OH, I see - *you* don't spend money on Uber as you please because you pay for things that benefit your son! Hmmmm.....

The point is - some families ask their high school aged children to earn money to help the family. Many of us are fortunate to not need to do that - BUT - that does not mean that we should be raising financially irresponsible children who ride roughshod over any semblance of "savings". Not all "spending" is equally sensible.

I think you should consider taking a bit of control over your son's money, maybe not allowing him such total easy access. It's not *stealing* his money, it's *parenting* his money.

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answers from Miami on

I would require him to have his backpack ready (including zipped and a breakfast bar in it) and his clothes set out the night before. I would also let the Uber be part of natural consequences as long as you aren’t paying. He will eventually realize that his entire summer money is disappearing. Just don’t bail him out.

1 mom found this helpful
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