All I can say about parenting teenagers is: Oy. And maybe: It’s rough. And quite possibly: Hold On!
My favorite part about parenting teenagers (and by favorite I mean not really) is how much more they know than me. I mean, really, they know SO MUCH. Way more than this forty-something. How did I ever doubt that a nineteen year old would know so much about the world around him? How confident and self-assured. How worldly. How mature.
Surely I am not the only parent with a teenager who knows so much more than they do?
I have what I think is a good relationship with my teens but they are all so different and requires such different parenting for each.
Take the 19 year-old. He is the one who clearly knows it all. Folks, there isn’t anything this boy doesn’t already know and to prove the point he will roll his eyes, get irritated, and say something like, “Mommmm, I KNOWWWW.” Ah, brings me back to those bratty I-Am-Always-Going-To-Be-Eight-Years-Old days.
At nineteen my work is really done. I mean, if he doesn’t have the basics by now, it is way too late. Hopefully the kid knows right from wrong, being responsible and respectful, staying away from drugs and alcohol, and how to be polite and hardworking. We have now moved onto the bigger, adult stuff like paying your bills, how to obtain car insurance, saving money, interviewing for a job, writing a resume, and what it actually costs to live on your own without your parents dropping money into your account on a regular basis. And believe me, he still doesn’t want to hear what his mother has to say because, oops, I forgot, he knows it all already.
Then there is the middle child. The one who is almost seventeen. My go-with-the-flow child who is smart and sweet and funny. He is what I call Low Maintenance after the Firstborn (who was and still is very High Maintenance). Sure, I have to remind him to brush his teeth and shower and change his underwear but I figure I have another year or so before he, too, knows it all. So far my biggest challenge with this child is he is one stubborn boy. Always was. Still is.
And then there is the littlest teen. The newly inducted Teen who just left Tweendom a mere three months ago. The difference here is she is a girl. So we have make-up issues, and hair issues, and clothes issues, and shoes issues, and friend issues, and homework issues, and body image issues, and acne issues, and I-Want-My-Room-Repainted-And-I-Need-New-Shoes-And-Can-I-Go-To-The-Mall-With-My-Friend issues. And then there are the teachers who clearly caused her to fail seventh grade world civilizations by not reminding her to study or turn in her homework. Uh huh. And the friends who all have social media and smart phones when she doesn’t. Yep. And the drama with bratty girls and mean girls and mean, bratty drama queen girls. Hold me. We have emotions that are up and down like a roller coaster and hormones that feel like a constant earthquake and we have sensitivities if one looks ever so slightly off center.
Most days we flow. And there is peace (thank god). And everyone is doing what they are doing and the household is harmonious.
Other days we have: a sick nineteen year old that somehow blamed me for being sick or not believing him or not doing enough to make him better (who the hell knows? He did go to the doctor twice in one week and I bought all his medication, but okay, yeah, blame me) and because he is sick and miserable then by golly everyone in the household must a) endure his miserable and nasty attitude; b) be to blame because he has to point the finger somewhere, after all; c) listen to him complain and moan and groan (super fun, trust me). Meanwhile, he just got a brand new job in a hotel as a baker but because he has been sick he hasn’t been able to start and his boss already called once saying, um, you better yet? Oh the stress of it all. Then the middle child who is taking an AP history class which requires more work but somehow the video games are more important and how many times do I really need to remind my almost-straight-A student that he has to do his homework and that we are only a few days into the school year and already I am bloody exhausted by it all. Oh, and have you thrown your dirty clothes down the laundry shoot? And you did brush your teeth before picture day, right? And then the littlest teen who is crying at dinner because she wants to volunteer (gleaned the information, by the way, by a Drama Queen I can’t stand) at an animal shelter which is all the way downtown and because she is only 13 she has to be accompanied by an adult which means me or her father has to suddenly “volunteer” too – and we told her, um, don’t get your hopes up.
Let me say that parenting is nothing that I read about in all those parenting books and magazines with cute pictures of cute kids all playing blocks on the floor in matching, adorable outfits. And when I thought it would get easier when they got older (in some cases, that part is true, they can certainly use the bathroom alone, take their own showers without me washing their hair, and they basically dress themselves and feed themselves too. Whew) but while those things definitely got easier a hundred and twenty-five MORE things just got harder.