Two months ago we became the proud, but anxious, parents of a teenager. Our first-born turned 13 and we have been wondering what these years will bring. We wonder because we hear funny and not-so-funny tales of teens filling a household with strange new hormones.
And we also wonder because we remember when we filled our own parents’ homes with our crazy hormones. And if you believe in karma like I do, then both my husband and I have some exciting days ahead!
Since I married, had kids and realized the importance of a roof over my head, a dish washer, full fridge and good night sleep, I have repeatedly called my Mom to say three things. First that I love her, second that I thank her and last but not least, that I am truly sorry for my teenage days!
She says that I wasn’t nearly as challenging as I remember. Perhaps it is like labor and she simply forgot the pain! In any case, I just can’t thank her enough for putting up with me, driving me everywhere, welcoming my friends, maintaining her sense of humor with a very self-centered teenage girl and always being my #1 cheerleader, no matter what! The mother-daughter relationship is a special one that can be complicated and complex, but very loving.
Now it is my turn to be a mother to a teenager and my son gets to go first into the world of teen land. So far, so good, but he is changing and my husband stated it best tonight. I asked him why our son responded to us in a certain way and he answered because he is 13. Yep, that’s right.
And 13-year-olds don’t think parents are as cool as we were when they were 9 years old. I kind of miss that! But I do enjoy that we can see PG-13 movies together, try more diverse restaurants and have some pretty interesting conversations. I also find the fact that he can assemble and program just about anything in our home a real perk, too.
So, although I am rookie at this teenage stuff, here are a few tips that my hubby and I have found helpful so far:
*Patience and humor. Yesterday my son was hollering at me and little sis to be ready to go so he wouldn’t be late for practice. As I hurried into the living room to assure him that we would be ready to depart, I noticed that he was making his demands clad in his boxers! I chose to laugh and ask him, “Seriously dude?! You are sitting there in your underwear worried about us not being ready?!” He started laughing too and I couldn’t help but exclaim, “teenagers!” I chose to find the humor in the situation even though I was somewhat perplexed!
*Although at this stage you will spend more time in your car than in your home driving your teen to their numerous practices, school events and more, do it. Drive, drive, drive and if you are lucky and sit there quietly, they will usually start to talk. Car rides seem to invite conversation, questions and discussion about how they are adjusting to their changing minds and body. However, be warned, if you ask too much, they probably won’t say that much. Just ask a little and then wait for it and listen. Once they start talking, turn the radio down and turn your ears on!
*Expect rolled eyes and annoyed responses. I’m not saying that the behaviour is right, but expect it just like you when you became new parents and learned that parenthood is expecting the unexpected! Our boy didn’t do much of this eye-rolling stuff until right around that magical 13th birthday.
*Don’t expect public displays of affection, but be there when they want affection because it doesn’t last long! It also reassures them that although everything about them is changing, your love remains strong. One thing I absolutely love about my tough former Marine husband is that he has always been loving with the kids. And those kids sure love their Daddy!
*Take an interest in their interests. I have noticed that our son really digs time with Dad right now because my husband has truly taken the time to be interested in what our son finds interesting. Although my husband dislikes golf (he says it is because he is so bad at it), when our son wanted to hit the course, my husband took him. And he took him a lot. Did I mention that this was in July in Phoenix?! Nothing like hitting golf balls in 115 degree weather, but the bond they continue to form is worth the sweat. And I’m counting on that father-son bond to help pull us through any rough waters ahead that we may encounter in the sea of the teenage years.
*Compromise on some stuff, but make clear what rules stick. Our son makes straight A’s and is pretty committed to his hockey team and church confirmation this year, so when he was invited to a sleepover during one his pet-sitting jobs, I decided to let him go, but told him that I would be picking him up at 8 a.m. to do his dog duties. I went ahead and fed the pup that evening as a compromise, but our boy had to be right back at the job the next morning. When I pulled up that day, he told me that I’m a good Mom and really appreciated the little leeway I gave him to still have some fun on his fall break. That was also my chance to tell him that if he continues to work hard and stay out of trouble in his teen years, then we will work with him, too.
*Know his pals and know their parents. Playing on a hockey team has been great for this as we know and travel with the parents during tournaments. Not only will you feel comfortable when he is with those families, but you can also trade teen stories and rest assured that a lot of the changes you see in your teen are normal. You find out that you are not the only new parent of a teen asking yourself, “who is this kid?” during those typical and annoying its-all-about-me hormonal moments!
Now that you have read this post, some of you may be thinking to yourself, just you wait manic managed mom and see how managed you feel when your newly turned 13-year-old is deeper into the tricky teen years!
Please feel free to post a comment with your best tips for the tricky and curvy teen road ahead. I am all strapped in and so far have only hit a few minor speed bumps, but I welcome advice for when my teen…and me…take a wrong turn. Advice for getting back on course during the trip?
And I must thank my 13-year-old because so far, so good. Although I am adjusting to the daily rolled eyes, he is pretty good for us. And even though, at times I catch him looking at me like I was indeed born yesterday, I am also cherishing these teen years because we have now shifted from giving him roots and are working on the wings. And that makes me a little sad, but it is a good kind of sad.
Time to stop blogging and get back to packing because that teen of mine has me taking him to Vegas this weekend for hockey! Hubby did the last one, so it is my turn to travel with the team. With his activities and little sister’s stuff, this crazy schedule is leaving me exhausted every day! But someday I’ll miss these days and the number 13 reminds me just how fast they are going!