Thursday, August 06, 2009

Maybe This is It

I've been thinking about yesterday's topic of "just wait until they're teenagers..." Just like the stuff about labor hurting and about once your baby is mobile "it is all over," the saying is so ubiquitous I'm starting to think it might be true.

You have a baby. It is exhausting and tiring and frustrating and isolating and you have not a single second to yourself. You're up all night and so tired you actually cry. But, you get to cuddle and hug and love on that baby. Then, the baby grows into a toddler and they mouth off and throw tantrums and act disobedient and test your patience and trample on the last of your fragile nerves and talk back to you and scream at you and try to hit you. But, they still want to hug you and tell you they love you and tell you how they want to be just like you when they grow up. And, if you say "would you like to go to the playground?" they light up with complete joy and glee.

As school age children....well...something happens, but I don't know what yet. But I imagine that the moms get to take showers in peace and sleep in and not have to clean anyone's defecation detritus. And, I assume the child still acts lovingly towards the parents.

Then, teenager-hood hits. And the shit really hits the fan. Sure, the teenager can make her own lunch and take her own shower and stay at home while you go get a pedicure and she lets the parents sleep past 5:20 a.m. but she also acts like a complete brat and tells you she hates you. You think back to that sweet little 3-year old she used to be and how all it took to make her happy was a trip to the playground... and you wish you had enjoyed that stage more. (You have completely and totally forgotten about how exhausted and frustrated you were back then because you've had years of good nights sleep by this point). Now you worry she's on drugs, you worry she's too involved with boys, you worry she'll drink and drive, or that she'll get in a car with some other nimwit who's been drinking, you worry she'll get in a car accident, or will get an STD, or will do something stupid and permanent. You are probably full of anxiety and stress with all the constant worrying. (God. This sounds like hell. I'm not ready for this!)

So, while the toddler/baby stuff is completely exhausting and you feel like you're going to just die from lack of sleep and the constant whining and demands and the complete lack of "me time," the teenager stuff must just be so anxiety-ridden that you feel like you're going to die from the stress of it all. Either way, these kids are out to do us in. We're screwed!

I wasn't so awful as a teenager, but I was pretty awful as a pre-teen. Starting in about 6th grade I was a total bitch to my mom, screaming "I HATE YOU!" and slamming my bedroom door for about 4 straight years. Hating whatever she said before she even said it. Just cringing with anger and angst whenever I so much as looked at my mom. I was too much of a chicken to do anything really bad in high school. I was kind of a nerdy choir girl goody goody, though I did sneak out with Meg once to go to a college party, but even then I made sure I was sober to drive us home. I have to say, I was really a good teenager...except for those few years of awful angst and eye-rolling and general nasty attitude towards my parents. My parents just always told me they trusted me and knew I'd make smart decisions. They didn't give me a curfew, but just wanted to know where I was and who I was with and what time I expected to be home. I was too scared of everything to do anything very dangerous.

Were your parents strict or lenient? Were you an awful teenager? Did you rebel? How can we keep our kids from turning into awful teenagers? Can it be prevented?


Angie said...

Yeah, I definitely can't say I'm looking forward to the teenage years, either. Having taught in middle and high school and FAR preferred elementary, I kind of get when people say wait until they are teenagers. At least right now, we KNOW everything, are the COOLEST, and our kids want to spend all of their time with us.

My parents were pretty strict. I wasn't too terrible as far as teenagers go, though. They wanted to know where I was going, so I would tell them we were going one place, when we actually went 5 or something. I didn't sneak out or come home (too) late, because I didn't want to get in trouble. I did talk back and, in general, thought my parents didn't know anything.

lisa said...

Im so glad you are writing about this stuff. Very thought provoking. Just now Im watching Nathan play by himself and was thinking " I should really play with another 12 years he's going to tell me he hates me and roll his eyes at me. I should RELISH the time he wants to be with me."

I was a perfect teenager too except one mistake of a boyfriend. Never drank, never ever skipped school or even got a tardy for that matter. I hope what goes around comes around (please)! My brothers on the other hand could have gotten away with just about anything-- Im not sure if its a boy vs. girl thing or oldest/first child vs. subsequent children? (Im the oldest and only girl)

Erin said...

My parents were similar to yours; very lenient, no curfew, very few rules. But unlike you at the same age, I lacked any sort of good judgement and was an absolute hell raiser. I got suspended from high school & spend an entire semester on disciplinary probation. HA! (My parents STILL won't laugh about it.)

But I turned out okay anyhow.

People I knew then are surprised to see me now; and people I know now are surprise to learn the kinds of things I did back then.

Stephanie said...

My parents were fairly strict, yet not oppressively so. I had a lot of attitude, but was (for the most part; there's still talk about a "calculus incident" from high school) a good kid.

I'm just hopeful that my kids will be nice people. That's my goal for them. In the meantime, I'm raising myself. It's miserable at times. And it amuses my parents, as it should!

susan said...

Who were YOUR parents?

I had a curfew the summer after my freshman year in college!

Katie said...

I was always out with other high school kids who DID have curfews, so I was just always home before rather early (like midnight in high school!) I wasn't really ever doing the 3 a.m. stuff like you were! :)

sgtsharp said...

i was a homebody till I was 16 & the summer before I started 11th grade then i came out of myshell & came a hell raiser. My folks (your grandparents) werent that strict, just call if i was going out past 1030pm friday & Sat. 6pm weeknights. Of course the rolls are reversed now.

Troublemaker Meg said...

Ha it bad that I don't think I remember going to that college party b/c to me..hello..that was nothing compared to what I did the other 51 weekends of the year? But I turned out okay (so far I think) in the end. But what I hear from my friends with teens (actually PRE TEENS these days) makes me positively blush...things I would never do...okay didn't do until I was married..okay engaged. Regardless, when I think about what my sister goes thru with my nephew (worrying he'll be expelled or...God..worse), it does help put things in perspective. At least I know where my kids are, and that they're safe. At least I know I can put them to bed and tomm will be a new day (even if I know it'll be more of the same). At least I'm still in control of the consequences. My nephew really has given me a whole new perspective on worries, issues, and life.