Monday, January 05, 2009
I'm Down To One Teenager
Not too long ago, I was the mother of three teenagers. I remember when they were very young and I would hear warnings and dire predictions of "They're cute now, but just wait until they're teenagers!" and I felt trepidation at the idea of a bleak but unavoidable future. Have you noticed that some people, especially current parents of teens, can't wait to share the misery with parents of young children? I interpreted the messages as "It's too late to turn back now. You're already a parent and those teen years are coming. You can't avoid them so you might as well accept your fate and hope you survive. But you probably won't." I really dreaded dealing with teenage issues, and I've seen many tragic situations among friends and strangers with teenagers and it baffled me as to the best way to handle them. After all, I wasn't that great at being a teenager myself and I certainly never wanted to revisit those years. Then someone helpfully pointed out that all three of my children would be teenagers at the same time, and for a few years they would all be dealing with adolescence but at different developmental levels. Wow. What was I thinking?!? But it's too late and I probably won't survive anyway! So when Josh became a teenager, I was relieved that he did not immediately change into someone I no longer knew. Then 15 months later, Beth became a teenager and I still found her delightful. Four years later, Beckie joined the ranks of teenagers, and a new phase of our lives together commenced. We have had our share of "puberty attacks", where I tell my children that I have already been through puberty myself and am not to blame for their unavoidable entry into the world of adolescence. I explain that what they feel is normal, not permanent, and not an excuse for bad behavior. The kids actually were able to help each other, by pointing out their observations such as, "I think you're having a puberty attack. Don't take it out on Mom." So sure, we've had rough patches. But the surprise for me was that I enjoyed my kids as teenagers, even though it was different from the younger years. There were new things to explore, and deeper levels of conversation, and it was just plain cool to see the young adults they were growing into over the years. Now Josh is 21, and today my Beth turned 20. So I have only one teenager left, and I am crazy about her. These kids, these young adults, are individuals I am proud of and enjoy spending time with. So for those of you with young children, those teenage years aren't all bad all the time. There could be some really good times ahead. Fasten your seatbelt for the roller coaster mood swing ride, and it will be bumpy at times, but don't let the bumps keep you from the invigorating excitement that this time of life offers. When my kids were young, I was both fascinated and humbled by them. I still am.