Parenting Teens: Finding the Humour Before We Lose our Minds

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I’m currently hiding in my bedroom with a stash of chocolate and the lights all out with the hopes that no one will hear the click of the keys or see the glow of the screen and find me.

Why am I hiding?

Where to start….

Maybe we should head back to earlier in the week when my son informed me that he accidentally invited a few extra people to his birthday (I don’t know how it happened, really!) and, funny enough, he invited them over a day early so it looks like it’s a sleepover!

Right.  Except, no.

Or maybe I should skip that because it was a “mistake” and move to the part where I have a ten minute conversation with another child explaining why I will not buy batteries for a friends X-box controllers.  Sure, it was super nice of him to ask politely if I would pick some up.

But still.  No.

I’ve been called back to the school numerous times this week due to forgotten binders, lost novels and jersey’s that they swore were in their backpack but when it got to game time just seemed to disappear!

All children that take piano lessons stated emphatically to me that their song that they were suppose to practice was NOWHERE in their book.  Nowhere.  It’s like, totally gone, Mom.  I can’t really practice cause the song is just not there.

Um, no.

I don’t mean to be cruel when I say that sometimes our children really would lose their heads if they weren’t attached so heartily.  I’m pretty sure that teeth would never be brushed if it weren’t for multiple reminders daily and the only time the dog gets walked is when I say, “Has anyone walked the dog?”  The answer is usually along the lines of, “oh yeah, I was just going to do that.”  Right.  Sure.  Except, yeah right!

These things could be infuriating if we let them be.  They could drive me mad and make me yell and banish them all to their rooms until the end of time.  But they don’t.  Because, kids.  Y’know?

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I’ve long held fast to the thought that if kids would actually listen to us the first time we tell them then they really wouldn’t need us for as many years as they do.  By 5 we could have told them, just once, all of the things that they need to do and learn and be and they would just get it and they could move out and get a job and pay their own bills.

But, for some insane blessed reason God didn’t make it that way.  He created our children to be reliant on us for a good many years of their lives.  He didn’t make us like an animal that within minutes of birth can walk.  It takes a whole year to get to that point.  And then there’s the feeding thing and the fact that we don’t even know how to get spoon into mouth without practice.  It’s one learning moment after another with our children and it doesn’t stop for…..goodness I don’t know how long.

What I do know is that even though my boys are all teens and pre-teens they still require much from me.  They don’t know all the answers (though they often think they do, bless them) and they haven’t figured out life just yet and for heavens sake they would eat spaghetti or hot dogs for the rest of their life if they had to just do it by themselves from this point on.

Most of me loves the fact that they’re still learning every day.  That they’re figuring out life and being reminded why we don’t play volleyball in the house.  That they’re asking questions about texting with girls and if those gross banana candies count as a fruit in their daily balanced diet.  They are learning that no one took their shoes but they just don’t remember where they put them.  They’re starting to grasp that clean clothes don’t just magically appear but if they want them then they should probably do something about it.

But not without gentle reminders.  Not without laughing straight up at them from time to time because they are hilarious.  Not without knowing that they’re truly still just kids and they won’t get it right all the time.  Cause who really does?

I’m learning that this life stage is a fun one if you learn to shake your head and find the humour in the fact that your son finds himself in the garage twirling the handle on the vice for a solid 5 minutes before he comes to and wonders what on earth he’s in the garage for.  Eggs.  You went to get me some eggs from the fridge out there, I tell him when he reenters the house confused.

It would be so easy to think they’ve lost their minds, these teenagers.  Or that they’re completely irresponsible.  But they’re not.  They’re just working through the dynamics of the high school social scene and what each teacher expects of them and that takes a lot out of them.  They’re trying to figure out why they’re just glum sometimes and that hormones can do crazy things to their bodies.  They’re working on growing long limbs and hair on their legs and taking their voices to new depths.  That’s a lot for anyone.

Be patient with them, parents, when it seems like they’ve regressed to toddlerhood.  They kind of have.  It’s a new stage of the game and it requires much teaching and practice and patience.  If you tackle it with humour and teach them to laugh at themselves when their voice cracks mid-sentence and you learn to laugh at the moments they come to you and say, “Mom, I was in the garage and I have no idea why,”  it’ll be easier, I promise.  It’ll even be fun because you’ll laugh so hard you’ll cry some days.  And then some days you’ll just straight up cry because you think they’ll never get it, but they will.  You potty trained them, didn’t you?  And we all thought for sure they’d never get that either.

So I’m huddled in my bed with chocolate because sometimes it’s wise to give yourself a time out and write words that you know are true to remind yourself not to be upset that there’s a football in your bed next to you and you have no idea why.  To remind yourself of the hilarity in the last sentence you just spoke (seriously, listen to yourself sometime) and to remember that we all did this to our parents at some point in time too.

If they learned the first time they wouldn’t need us.  I’m pretty glad they do.

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