**When I write about teens, it’s important you know that I generally meld a collection of stories I’ve compiled from many teens. I am never referring specifically to my teens – which I hope is understandable as no teenager in the thick of life wants their mama blabbing to the whole world about what they’re going through. However, the stories are important and I believe that, as parents, we need more resources to help us wade through the teen years in community. So I compile and I write so that no particular teenager is harmed in the making of these stories.
When I dreamed about mothering teenagers, many moons ago before I ever had any, I pictured it would be different. I thought there would be moments of mayhem (there is!), and moments of hurt (oh yeah!), but overall I thought it would look just a bit more classic. You know, like the teens you see in the movies.
I pictured there being a slamming of doors. I pictured them hunkering down in their bedrooms and never wanting to come out. I pictured the eyerolls and general looks of disgust. I even pictured yelling combined with slamming doors followed by never wanting to leave their bedroom all in one quick sequential moment with perfect lighting and just the right music.
It hasn’t been like that for us though and from what I hear we’re not alone.
Our nemesis during the teen years is one hundred percent and without a doubt, apathy.
A general disinterest. A lack of enthusiasm. Showing no concern. This is our plague and it is our battle.
Where I thought there would be huge fights and loud words there is just a shrug and eyes that say, “I hear you but I just don’t care.” I’ll tell you what. I’d take yelling any day.
With yelling you can get some where. With an eye roll you can see our teens feel something. When they’re apathetic we just get…..nothing.
I’m not sure if there’s anything on this planet more frustrating that nothing.
Not tracking? Think I’m crazy for wanting walls to shake the door gets slammed so hard? Let me explain.
Nothing means we spend time sitting with our teen telling them just exactly how important it is to work hard, to study, to show initiative and be proud of that assignment or that mark on a test and they stare at us as if we’ve just spoken to them in Hebrew. Nothing.
Nothing means that we sit them down and pour out our heart about why it’s important to incorporate at least some sort of vegetable or fruit into their daily life. F or the good of their body and their health we stress that ramen noodles and things from a can do not nourish them well and they just look, shrug and walk away. Nothing.
Nothing means we talk to them about boundaries in dating and boundaries in the content they’re viewing online or boundaries about when it’s time to leave the party and they look up with lazy, tired eyes and say, “Okay.” Okay is code for nothing.
Because, okay? Okay what?
Okay you’re going to make boundaries or okay you’re going to work harder or okay you get that what you did was not okay? Or just okay. Okay, like you heard me and you want me to go away and so you’re saying okay to make me leave the room and stop the words from flowing from my mouth.
I can’t read apathy because it contains nothing. I can read a yell! When there’s yelling I can hear that you’re angry and if this makes you angry then I know where your head is at and let’s talk some more to see where the anger is coming from and what we can do to make it less.
When we’re doing the best we know how at this parenting gig and when we see some areas that need addressing and we bring it up, we’re looking for something. Something! When what we’re given in return for all of the words we just spoke is a zero, well, it makes us feel like there’s no point. Cause what is the point if they don’t care about anything?
The point is, they are listening even when they don’t show that they are.
The point is, they know how to fuel us and for some reason making us angry is their national sport.
The point is, they’re teens and they’re searching for identity and they don’t want to give us the satisfaction of being the one who knows the most. That’s the role they’re vying for.
Parents, when you feel ready to pull out every strand of your hair, one by one, I get it. I do. That was me today. Every. Strand. Of. Hair. At least it would have felt like I accomplished something.
Instead, I sat at my desk and I made a list of the things I love about my kid and then I cried. It’s hard to be so mad and love so much.
It’s where we’re at just now though, fellow mamas of teens. It’s comforting to remember that generations of women have made it through and lived to tell the tale. I’m hoping the story might even be funny one day. But not right now. Too soon…..too soon.