"The Happiness Factor" is my personal phrase for a number, or factor, on the gauge of happiness, contentment, cheerfulness in my house.
It's a number that I feel reflects how everyone in the house is feeling about life, each other, their homework, what's for dinner, you name it. Anything that can make the members of my family gleeful or miserable affects that number.
The gauge measures any number from infinity to infinity -- remember that number line you learned about in, say, fifth grade -- where zero (or neutral in this case) is in the middle and the numbers go in both directions out from zero?
What I have learned in my years as a mama, and most markedly in my recent "teenage parenting years," is that the math rule "a positive times a negative is a negative" is true for the Happiness Factor as well.
When one member of the household is unhappy, dissatisfied, grumpy, their mood most definitely affects those around him and eventually a mama can end up with lots of unhappy, dissatisfied, grumpy. I have said before that Newton's Law of Physics exists in household (For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction), and in a similar way, so does this rule of math.
For the past few weeks we have been experiencing a negative Happiness Factor in our house. You see, unlike in math, where two negatives make a positive, or two negatives and one positive, or any number of positives make a positive, in the household, one or any number of negatives makes the Happiness Factor a negative number.
Teens, I have sadly learned, are often very negative people. They can be positive, and in fact can have very high positive measurements, but in the blink of an eye, they can turn into very low negative numbers (the negative numbers in other areas of their lives greatly influence their own measurements). They often stay in those low numbers for quite a long time, and usually their low numbers are lower than their high numbers.
My mother's heart has been very affected lately by the Happiness Factor because The Happiness Factor has recently (and annoyingly) been accompanied by many other indoctrination-related activities like The Debate Team. The Debate Team plus the Happiness Factor can make a mama pull her hair out, cry herself to sleep, lose her mind. Seriously. If our country used its resources to the greatest advantage all teenagers would be trial lawyers. They can argue the dumbest point to the point that no one even knows what the argument was originally about. They often win those arguments by virtue of sheer exhaustion on the part of their opponent.
If you have children, especially young children, I suggest that you prepare yourself for the years ahead. No one told me of these things, or if they did I shook my head mockingly and dismissed it as poor parenting. I tell you now, even the best of parents (of which I admit I am not) is no match for these teenage years. This is guerilla warfare, I say. All bets are off and all rules are null.
The only answer is prayer -- down on your knees, mama.