When my kids were babies, we were sort of in the thick of things. Diapers, the right pre-school, sleep schedules. When they were in early school age, it was all about homework and reading and lunches. It was hard. I was not the Mom that adored my kids in the Summer. I experienced my own agonizing boredom, when by 10am on a hot Summer morning, my kids were either camped out in front of the TV, or were wanting food. Or attention. Or something.
Parenting at that age, simply put, was not what I had been told. I had visions of happy Moms sharing healthy lunches with their kids, playing games, napping peacefully. Nowhere in this picture were rolls of red duct tape spread out all over the house, grimy fingerprints on sliding glass windows that never seemed to get clean, or falling into bed exhausted at night. Add to this that their Dad worked in farming, and was largely gone in the Summer. I was crazy.
Everyone warned me about the teenage years. It will be madness. They will argue with you. Drugs. Alcohol. Scary things.
The opposite happened for me.
Suddenly these boys started to become young men, and all my fears were laid to rest. We had long talks about important stuff. I set good boundaries, and made it safe to come to me. I also admitted to myself that this was the time that were supposed to start to disconnect, so when my son was mad at me, he put a note in a special box, and made me PROMISE never to look in there. The lock broke, or it never worked, and the note is still in there. And I haven’t looked.
So here’s my list: 5 Reasons Why Parenting Teenagers Pretty Much Rocks
1. They Appreciate A Home Cooked Meal. Ice cream. They will never stop loving trying out new ice creams that you bring home. Or your cooking. They will come home to smells of something bubbling on the stove, and will have an instant recollection of Home. You. They will tell you, “Mom, this is the best place to be”, and even though your house is smaller than their old back yard, they will tell you they can’t wait to get here. Because of the food. And as long as you keep the cupboards and refrigerator stocked, they will love to be here.
2. Cars. A kid with a new car will become the automatic and instant new chauffeur in your house. He will love driving so much, that he will OFFER to pick up any sibling needing a ride. My life seriously changed with the advent of the first driver.
3. Laundry. If you do it right, and I mean like 8th grade right, your own kids will do the wash, dry, fold and put away on their own. Especially if you don’t do it for them EVER in the beginning. They will realize that if they want clean clothes, (and they do), they will have to do all of that, even if it means staying up until 11pm. This you must do. Because at no point will you love washing their sports gear.
4. Electronics. My boys got their first cell phones in 3rd & 1st grades, respectively. I taught them how to use them proficiently from the beginning. Obviously, electronics, social media and the like are very important to me. So, I monitored, and then let go, and from what I’ve seen, I’m not concerned with how they use it. BUT. As a parent, I had to stay completely on top of the sites and apps that they use. In fact, one step ahead is even better. Recently, they went to a party for the first time together. The youngest, a Freshman, at his first High School party. We did some troubleshooting…like, just in case you drink or do something, the other brother gets your phone immediately and shuts it down. They know each others’ passwords. If I text “WRU” at any point in the night, they go to their Details page within 5 minutes and hit the “Show My Current Location” to me. It works. (The oldest did ask me to not use CAPS, and I acquiesced.)
5. They Are Never Here. I know. I’m going against the Mom code on this one. Nothing makes me happier, though, than to see my kids with a wealth of good friends, and a full calendar of activities. Both are in Boy Scouts. One loves Football and working out, the other is all Soccer, Basketball, Baseball. They both have different church youth groups. When I was sick today, the oldest went to my church on his own. The one I adopted when our family divorced. He and his brother decided they wanted to try out that church’s youth group. They love their social network. So, when they’re gone, I know they are happy. And that they are preparing for the world. This thrills me.
My job isn’t over. There are bumps. But, this is the happiest parenting time in my life, and it just keeps getting better. I remember those hard early years when someone deftly said to me…You won’t really know you’ve done a good job until they are almost adults.
This I know to be true.