My kids are now twelve and fourteen, that ripe old age where they have surpassed their parents in their intellect and wisdom, at least according to them. They hold very strong opinions on subjects that interest them, and those opinions will nearly always be the polar opposite of your own. On any other subject that doesn’t captivate them, you would have to hold one of their limbs inside a campfire or remove the digital device that has grown into their hand in order to eke out some kind of response from them when asked.
I am actually enjoying this stage in life in a way that I didn’t expect. Certainly there are downsides to early adolescence, such as:
- Mood swings from abrupt chemical changes in the brain. Thanks hormones! You’ve already done so much for me in my own personal life… time for someone else to slam doors and have all of the “worst days ever”.
- Getting sucked into arguments about things that make no sense, yet you can barely breathe for the passion you feel
- Being made to feel ridiculous for suggesting a pair of shoes that clearly do not go with the outfit being worn
- Understanding that I can never make enough food, or bring home enough pizza
But I made myself a promise when I had babies, and it’s one that I intend to fulfill no matter how many times I bite my tongue to ribbons trying to keep it: I promised to live in the moment, and to enjoy my children in whatever developmental phase they were going through. It sounds pretty idealistic, but if it still makes sense to you after spending a night rocking a teething child while you yourself are sick with typhoid, it’s a promise you can keep (trust me).
So I’ve spent some time trying to come up with ways to enjoy this moment, where smiles can be few and far between, and the best answer you can expect to your question “how was your day?” is a grunt accompanied by an eye roll, or simply the concise, one-worded answer: “stop.”
So here we have my List of Cool Things about Raising Young Adolescents. If any strike a chord with you, I salute you and say, quite simply, “May the odds be ever in our favor”.
- Adolescents are trying on new identities all the time, which is always amusing. Sometimes, for example, I’ll ask a question and get a response in a brand new, kind of British-y accent. Sure, it’s challenging to keep a respectfully straight face, but who said parenting was easy?
- Adolescents can have interesting conversations about politics, or relationships, or really anything that you want to talk about (keeping in mind that it may depend on the brain chemical thing I discussed above). They can offer insight and advice, which is wonderful and refreshing. It’s certainly a change from the kids who only wanted to talk about Pikachu or Shopkins and weren’t as willing to discuss something like, for example, a subject that might be remotely interesting to you.
- Young adolescents can be surprisingly sensitive and tender, and will see your feelings and emotions as things that exist and matter (keeping in mind the brain chemical thing, people, always keeping it in mind). They will sometimes go to great extremes to comfort you, or make you laugh, or apologize if they are the reason for your unhappiness (and they frequently are).
- You can get teens to do things like open jars, fix your computer, set up your phone, and deal with your Smart TV, as long as you don’t mind looking like a bumbling old person (and since you are one, no big reach).
- Teens have the ability to say the most hilarious things, mostly on purpose. I love a good laugh, and they know it. They finally get sarcasm and thus use it often.
- If you love them and treat them with respect, they will let their guards down and trust you with their dear, delicate hearts for a minute. It’s a huge gift and a staggering responsibility, and you’ll never get over the beauty of it.