I am not at all certain how, now just shy of forty, that I find myself staring across the dinner table at my seventeen year old son. It happened, just like they said it would. Time passed in a blink of an eye. The diapers are long gone, so is Barney, coloring, training wheels, dressing him in cute outfits, bathtub time and snuggling up together, just breathing in his baby smell.
I remember when my son was young, and following a very public exhibition of daily tantrum #1,819, parents of older kids would all say the same thing, “Don’t worry, it gets easier.” What a crock. It doesn’t get any easier, it just gets different. How have I managed raising a teenager? Humor. Humor is what gives you the gumption you need to guide them along this tentative path without that manual we all so desperately crave to reassure us that we aren’t completely messing them up with our ignorance and imperfections.
If the teenage years are upon you, get ready. In the meantime, take a couple of pointers from a “been there, done that” mother. And most importantly, just remember that no matter how much they resist, they do love you, they do need you, and they really do want you up in their grill.
Here’s what you can expect:
1. A whole different understanding of what it means to, and the necessity of: “micro manage”
2. Prepare yourself for anything before checking under the bed. The experience of “Breathe, lift, and cringe” will occur often.
3. Knocking on the door and waiting several seconds before entering so you don’t embarrass yourself or them is of the utmost importance.
4. “If You Seek Amy” by Britney Spears is not what you think it is.
5. Victoria’s Secret catalogues are best unsubscribed to.
6. Your hormones suddenly seem like a gift, comparatively speaking.
7. Natch, Toats, Mizzy, Sitchew are actual words – in fact, you will become an expert on deciphering teen language.
8. There is a distinct difference between your sweetheart and the person pretending to be your kid on FaceBook.
9. You will defend every pointless aspect of life….including the need to pass Chemistry.
10. “I love you” is less cute than suspicious and should immediately put you on high alert.
11. You will consider an exorcism…at least once.
12. Yes, checking their pulse when they are still sleeping at 2pm on a Saturday is normal.
13. You are not really an idiot despite what their tone implies.
14. As unlikely as it seems, they will make it to college.
15. A $2000 dollar increase in your car insurance premium, and an unexplainable dent in your car is simply a part of the job and nothing to concern yourself with.
16. A sudden discovery that they are pretty cool, moments where you are truly impressed, and pride in a job well done—with zero attributed credit, natch.
17. They really do know everything, don’t try to enlighten them otherwise.
18. Everything you do is embarrassing, effortlessly so.
19. You will only realize you survived when they turn 25. Not one second before.
20. The urge to duct tape them to the inside door of their closet is best left unspoken.
21. You will find yourself worrying about their mind, development and normalcy every 2.7 seconds.
22. Their comfort zone is the size of a nickel.
23. You really are a good parent, but you will not feel like one for about five years straight.
24. Your wisdom is discovered when they have children of their own, and not one moment before. Pray that discovery occurs after an age where you find it acceptable to be a grandparent.
It will be tough, and it won’t always be fun, but don’t give up – they do come back to you. First you have to let them go and trust in what you have taught them. Good luck!
About the author: Jennifer Taylor is a successful, Director level executive, and calls her office in Boston, MA her “home away from home”. She is a two-time award winner honored by the Boston Women’s Journal in recognition of her career achievements, has published in Mass HighTech and is often featured on DowntownWomensClub.com, a networking website for professional women. She also volunteers for organizations like Junior Achievement and the YWCA. Jennifer resides in Newburyport, MA with her almost adult son, Ian.