This ran in the March 27, 2008 issue of the Alameda Sun:
Those Awkward Teenage Years
My twins turned 13 recently and the subsequent revelation has hit like a bomb: I live with teenagers. For those of you currently in the same situation (living with teenagers), you can stop reading and move on. You already know about the unbelievable amount of sleep teenagers need and you are very aware of the appetites that never end. You see and almost feel each mood swing. But I still have so much to learn.
If you’re living with teens, you may know that this stage of parenting can sneak up on you. It did for me. In my mind, I am just getting past the stage of cutting their meat and filling up their sippy cups. (I still tuck them in at night. I refuse to give that up.) How did they… no, really, how did I get so old? Wasn’t it not so long ago that I was a teenager? “It was, Mom,” they remind me all the time. But, it’s sure all coming back to me now.
I guess I thought all this teenage stuff would happen when the girls hit high school (my girls have one more year of middle school). Now I am afraid of what high school will bring—for them and for me. They are very quickly becoming young adults. How much smarter will I have to be? Though they have far surpassed me in Math and Science proficiency, until this point, I have felt about one-and-a-half steps ahead of them in terms of life skills and knowledge. Not any more! They are bright kids and I knew they would catch up, but just not this soon.
There was an enormous divide between my parents and their kids. My brothers and sisters and I hit our teenage years in the ‘60s and ‘70s, surrounded by sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll, lots of alcohol and a sense of freedom that I am certain my Mother never ever considered.
My perspective has changed significantly as a parent. I really wasn’t wild, but my older siblings were (maybe that’s why I wasn’t). I have witnessed things that I don’t want my kids to see or to experience themselves, but how do I prevent it? Will a mere mention of certain behaviors make it manifest in their lives? And, I am well aware that there are things happening out in the real world today that their Mother (me) never ever considered.
At the same time, I am slowly waking up to the benefits of the girls being teenagers. They suddenly understand so much more at a deeper level—we are watching and discussing new categories of TV and movies, we talk about world issues, they are asking questions about what I think and believe as they form their own ideas and opinions. They teach me a new perspective just about every day. So far, they haven’t dumped me entirely for their friends. And I am grateful. I still have so much to learn.