Teenagers are a funny old breed. I can’t even say they are like marmite it’s not as black and white as loving or hating them, it’s recognising the fact that while they are are physically growing into young adults they still have the mind of a two year old which is something you have to learn to live with.
While two year old’s have a tantrum or twenty ,they still have that cute factor, button noses, chubby arms sweet little voices innocent eyes and they are small. Whereas by thirteen this has all gone and in its place is attitude with a capital A.
So far I have managed to deal with seven stroppy teens and compared to the stuff you see on Eastenders mine are pretty fine. None pregnant (yet) all work hard, do well at school, haven’t killed their sibling then framed their uncle, never run away or even nicked a car (if they have they haven’t got caught or mentioned it to me). They are articulate,funny and friendly and on the whole a likable bunch.
At home behind closed doors its another story, its like the secret life of teens meets the exasperated p[parents. The first time my daughter morphed from a pretty nice child into a parent hating mumbling delinquent I was so upset I cried. When she started to blame me for everything from the colour of her hair to the fact that shes only an A cup I felt like a total failure. When she didn’t get the university she wanted it was because I didn’t push her enough, when her degree wasn’t a first it was because I pushed her too much and she burnt out. When her boyfriend dumped her I should of told her I never liked him,and so it goes on, the list of things I got wrong was endless in her eyes and now inevitable in mine. It doesn’t matter how hard you try, at some point as a parent you will get it wrong and in the eyes of a teenager you will and have always got it wrong.
Once you understand that this is as normal as teething or potty training its easier to get your head around the fact that the blossoming adult in your house is causing a part of you to wither and die.
Mornings are a particular favourite of mine, it’s a fact that teenagers are not really morning people, but just to make sure that we suffer as parents that little bit more secondary school starts even earlier than primary, meaning you are having to deal with moody grumpy people from about half six. (Sometimes it feels like you should duck the low flying hormone when you come through the front door.) A little known fact is that while by the afternooon people between the ages of thirteen and nineteen find the ability to speak, before nine in the morning all they are capable of is a very quiet mumble which is totally impossible to understand if your twenty or over. This as you can imagaine causes quite a lot of problems . A typical morning may go like this:
Teen “gfgeygfhdhdgfyyre” Me:”Sorry I didn’t get that”?
Teen “hgfhjgeyreyytruytwy”! Me “Could you speak up a bit, I don’t know what you want”
Teen “You never listen to me, you don’t care, I hate you”
Que flouncing out and door slamming, me none the wiser and them back to mumbling. The next one comes through what seems to be a never ending revolving door of morning misery “You haven’t washed my skort or my hockey socks, typical do you do ANYTHING Like EVER?” Me “well” Teen “Forget it, I wish I was adopted”. I mentally give myself ten house points for not saying “I wish you were adopted too” but just look at her serenely as she flounces out the kitchen. Over the years I have learnt that to react is to loose, serenity does their nut in, childish I know but its the little victories that keep you going.The complaints continue, (at this rate I might need to start up a dedicated help line) white socks with particular logo not washed, wrong pants, blue bra washed but matching knickers missing (my fault) wrong bread (not sourdough) wrong jam, wrong bacon they like smoked apparently and my personal favourite, the wrong bottled water! All this before seven in the morning, no wonder my blood pressures a tad high. They manage to mumble a quick “scaniavsquid” (which to the untrained ear may sounds like they are asking for squid), but they all need a quid, probably to buy the right water and off they huff mumbling into the morning. If they are running late they normally blame me for the detention they will get saying something like “trywtytry” but they eventually manage to get out “Well I will be two hours late tonight cos of you” I just nod sagely while thinking “great so I get respite till six) then off they go like a whole lot of little storm clouds leaving the building.
This is a blog, not a novel so I will stop now. Teenagers are a whole new ballgame in the parenting department,obviously you have those parents that have no issues and the perfect teen, I refuse to believe that though, firstly because if I do I have failed epically in the teenage department and secondly because nobody is perfect especially a teen. I put it down to deluded parents.
My top tip would be to never be to hard on yourself, you have done a great job, this is the next stage of growing up, it ain’t pretty but it’s got to happen. Even though you love them, you are allowed to dislike them, and there is nothing wrong with fantasising about the time they will move out. It will test your marriage, your patience and your sanity but that’s the nature of parenting in general. You don’t often hear people say “I’m having a teenager” and there’s a reason for that, we need to be broken in gently, did you ever think you would look back at sleepless nights and dirty nappies with fondness?. Well when the eighteen year old’s gone awol and the sixteen year old has thrown up all over the bathroom floor you will, trust me.A friend once said to me remember your having a person, an actual real person, and its true, bringing up an actual person is not easy. So the fact that they are giving you a bit of attitude, albeit in mumbling form be happy that you have created confident young people, that’s an achievement in itself.
While I have so much more to say about these wonderful young specimens (so watch this space) if you happen to have a little person sitting next to you right now, give them a hug and read them a story because before you know it they will be a foot taller than you and mumble.