Parents, have a teen? Planning on having your child become a teenager? About to inherit a teenager? PLEASE accept this warning.
Stock up on all the love and admiration now. Soak it in. Write it down. Tattoo it on your back. (backwards so you can read it to yourself in the mirror) You will need reserves to binge on like a Real Housewives Show.
Do you enjoy your relative sanity? Do you like that a conversation will allow 80% of your words to leave your mouth? Relish it. Throw in an added conversation during the day just to stock pile the memory.
Do you appreciate your partner? …. nevermind, we can skip that minefield for now, but just be aware that co-parenting a teenager will test your relationship almost as much as parenting a newborn. There might not be diapers to fight over, but there will be laundry to deal with, for many reasons, and there wont be arguments over bottle feeding but that kids is going to eat your house weight in food. What goes with eating tons? Dishes. There will always be dishes and laundry when there are human beings breathing in a house. It multiplies exponentially with multiple children, stressed parents, and a pandemic.
Tantrums? They aren’t done when they are no longer a toddler. Oh no, and the bigger the kid, the louder the tantrum. The bigger the emotions. And as a hormonal teenager, emotions are like a strobe light. It just comes at you fast and strong and you cannot look away or shut it off … and 9 times out of 10 that emotion pisses you off, regardless of what it is.
My son and I have always had a great relationship. We’ve had countless deep and meaningful conversations about anything and everything. He was a difficult baby/toddler to say the least, but once we hit 6/7 it was smooth sailing …. until now. My mom warned me against feeling overconfident about my son becoming a teenager and I scoffed at her. I did. I can admit it. My son and I even talked about her predictions and how it would not be that way for us. And as with most beliefs from your mom, turns out she was right.
My son does not burn records in a bathroom sink or invite friends over to smoke pot in front of his sister unsupervised as I have heard some folks in the past experience ( …… ) but I can tell you every ounce of my patience, love, sanity, and will for life have been tested in the last three months.
My husband and I have gone through some marriage boot camp this year with the reality of life in a pandemic. No one leaving the house for work or school is brutal, and I can tell you right now it’s a damn good thing my son was not putting us through Teen Sanity Boot Camp simultaneously because I don’t think we’d all still be living under the same roof if the timing was different.
But here we are, a united front, and it has been trying to say the least. I did not understand the warnings of folks and what parenting a teen would look like.
It is a test, y’all. This smart, opinionated, stubborn, reasonable young man who used to wake up at 7am has become this oversleeping, argumentative, resentful, stubborn, stinky, pimply, opinionated name on my shit list.
And don’t think it wont happen for you. Please believe that I understand aaaaaaaaall the reasons he is this way, but that does not change the fact that e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g is argued, debated, challenged. Again. Yes it will serve him well. Yes it’s what teenagers are supposed to do. Yes I love him unconditionally, but damnit if I don’t like him much right now.
It’s mentally exhausting. And we don’t even get a break from it. He isn’t going to friends’ houses or sleep overs or hell, even SCHOOL. He’s just HERE. Fighting all of it. Fighting the boundaries and the expectations. And believe me when I’m quite certain that our proximity to him is equally annoying and intolerable for him.
Is he a good kid? Absolutely. Does he eventually do his chores? Yes. Does he have responsibilities and expectations? Yes. But still, it is a constant, unending pushback for all of life and everything it entails.
We have limits on restrictions right now because … PANDEMIC. While we have had to take away and/or restrict access, taking away kids’ video games is also taking away their only social outlet. It’s taking away independence and anonymity. Autonomy. These are what teenagers value and while there still have to be consequences for things, depression and isolation and loneliness right now are rampant and real dangers for adults and kids alike. If there is no outlet, then what? We are not willing to find out, but also …. rabid teenager in the house.
Needless to say stress eating and emotionally shutting down every night and relying on Netflix will not be obliterated as per my New Years Resolutions. Right now these things are my life jacket.