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Teen Time
Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2005, 8:27 p.m.

QUESTION: Thinking about teens?


This morning, my daughter got up and asked me if she could get me a cup of coffee to take to work. Mom, she said with endearing sincerity, would you like me to go get a coffee and bring it back home for you before I go to class? Well, how about that. Well, yes I would.

She drove down to the coffee shop and came back just as I was packed up to go out the door. Waiting in my car was a delightful and delicious large iced skim caramel macchiato – with extra caramel. All those years of childrearing – the sleepless nights, the childhood illnesses, the diaper bags, the carpooling – have suddenly started paying off. Motherhood is not all angst.

I was worried about it in the beginning. When I was younger and thinking about the idea of having children, I remember being terrified of the eventuality of dealing with my kid(s) as teenager(s). What would I do? How would I cope? How much does boarding school cost? Would I be a good mother of teenagers or would having a teenager be the point at which life promoted me to the level of incompetence – a la the Peter Principle? Who could know? Teenagers were terrifying and mystifying and gave me pause to consider my yet untested parenting skills. As we must often do in life, I forged ahead into the great unknown with high hopes and the best intentions and a few butterflies in my stomach.

image by Suburban Island

Now, I have 2 teens in the house – 15 and 18. They are great kids. Every once in a while when the house is calm and one of the kids has done something particularly virtuous, I think to myself – why was I ever so worried about the teenage years? Parenting teens has been a rewarding experience for me overall. Although there have been some "moments". We all have our "moments" though – don’t we? I have learned a lot from my teens and even from their "moments", including the following:

  • Bake it and they will come;
  • Your bad example is their good excuse;
  • No matter what you say, you will always help them with those last minute projects;
  • Some kids think television is good white noise but they are wrong;
  • Never let them turn off their cell phones when they are out and about;
  • Accept that some of their pals’ parents may require medication, not speak any English, have questionable business associations, or possess wildly different parenting standards;
  • Never assume – therein lies many surprises, most of which you will not like;
  • It is not okay for you to have a bad day but it is perfectly okay for your kids to have a bad day – this is especially true if you are having a bad day in front of their peers;
  • It is best to shut up and drive when you are charged with chauffeuring teens around – nobody likes a chatty mommy;
  • A messy room is not the end of the world but a messy house will make mommy mighty cranky;
  • Teens can cook pretty good meals out of a box or a bag but they would rather you do it for them because it just tastes better when mom makes it (and then they don't have to do it themselves);
  • Elementary school kids want you to volunteer, high school kids would rather you not do anything of the sort;
  • Words from music lyrics and certain choices pieces of modern slang may become standard responses to parental statements and questions - yo, word, holla, wazzup, chill, tight, way - turn up in conversations unannounced and often unwelcomed. Mom: Clean your room. Kid: Chill. Mom: You need to do your homework. Kid: Word.

Being a parent can be educational. Being a parent can be fun. Being a parent can be frustrating. In the end, being a parent is always an adventure and as Paris Hilton would say, "that’s hot."

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