5 Ways Raising a Teenager Made Me Crazy
I’ve always done my best to be the relaxed mom. I tried not to yell when I homeschool, to keep my cool, and be authoritative instead of authoritarian. Oh, I read all the books. I tried to be open and not to lie (much). Altogether, I think I did pretty good as they were growing up. So, when my new teenager (oh my god is he seriously a teenager) came to me a few weeks ago with a girl problem, I was proud of myself. An invisible pat on the back? Yup, totally gave me one. You did so good! He trusts you.
What my teenager does not know is that it took everything I had not to call the girl’s parents and not to rat her out for what is probably (actually) totally teen appropriate behavior. It appears that being the “relaxed” mom gets harder with age. Not mine, theirs. Because you see, I thought I was prepared for my elder to hit the teenage years. Well, funny thing about thinking you are prepared. That’s not actually a thing as a parent. Because just as soon as you are doing well – boom, your innocent baby grows leg hair and gets a girlfriend.
I thought I was prepared to raise a teenager. But I was wrong. Here are five things nobody ever told me would happen:
- The Penis Jokes.
No seriously, what is it with teenage boys and their obsession with body parts? Granted, I’ve never actually been a teenage boy, but I did go through puberty, and I am certain I was never this fascinated by my body at 13. Or 30 for that matter. It’s all puberty all the time. Whenever there is a pretty girl around, he picks up his tee-shirt and wipes sweat off his face, which completely by accident, exposes his six pack. I mean kid, nobody sweats this much. Trust me, I know. I live with you. Leave the t-shirt alone.
And like… So. Many. Penis. Jokes. I try to be cool. But the truth is? I am not cool. Although I am not supposed to be overhearing most of these jokes, as they are directed at his brother or his friends, I do. Why? Because I snoop. I mean how am I supposed to protect my tiny baby without snooping. But I am unprepared for this. Especially during those hours when drinking is not an option.
- The Snooping
Remember when I said I was open and honest? I was. But there are so many dangers out there. Drugs, gangs, girls. How am I supposed to guard my baby? I am very resourceful. I may or may not drive to the park on the regular basis to stalk him with his friends. I may or may not have broken into his Instagram. I may or may not plot with the other moms. And I definitely may (or may not) fantasize about sneaking behind as my baby walks out the door to make sure he crosses the road safely. You know, I am way less chill than even he knows. But in my defense, I remember myself at 13. I’d like to have the boy in a bubble, but that doesn’t seem to be an option these days. Do I drive myself crazy with the snooping? Yes. But do I have a choice? Also yes. But I need to protect him. So, I snoop.
- The Secrets
Another thing I was unprepared for, as my older turned into a teenager, are all the secrets. When did the kid who wanted nothing more than to share his theories on Caillou’s origins turn into a silent grouch? I understand, this is the age when privacy is important. But I miss it. I miss him. I wish I had paid a bit more attention to the things he shared when he was little. Savored the moments. Remembered the words. But it’s all kind of a blur these days. My little one still wants to talk. I catch myself trying to store these moments, for the future.
And what are these kids really up to anyway? Are they plotting to take over the world? Or to walk to the ice cream store? One never knows. Each secret seems to carry the same level of significance.
I really hope it’s not actually plotting to take over the world… Not sure I have the bail money. However, the few times he’s faced a real moral dilemma, or a dangerous situation he’s come to me. I know he knows I have his back. And that I am always willing to figuratively break legs for him. Not literally. But only because that would set a bad example.
- The Teen Girls
I’ve learned to strongly dislike an entire group of people, and I am confident this has nothing to do with them and everything to do with me. I just don’t like teenage girls anymore. I used to. But now, that I know they the power to hurt him, I think they are awful. And I judge (silently) every teenage girl I meet, and I find all the ways in which she is not good enough for my son. Yeap, I’ve become a terrible person. For the first time in my life, I empathize with my former mother in law. I remember all the times it was clear she didn’t like me. I get it now. How could anybody be good enough for my son? Its not possible.
The problem is not that these girls aren’t friendly or pretty, or smart. The problem is that I know beyond all shadow of a doubt, that they can never be as brilliant, beautiful and kind as my son. Its simply out of the realm of possibility. So, I smile at them, while fully aware I have become my mother in law.
A karmic punishment if there ever was one.
- Letting Go
The hardest part or raising a teenager isn’t the girls, the secrets or even the jokes. The hardest part, is knowing that one day, one day very soon it’ll all be over. My baby (the one who is as tall as me these days) will need to go into the world on his own. I will no longer be able to go through his sock drawer, I will just have to trust that I taught him better than to do dangerous drugs. I will no longer be there to roll my eyes at the ceaseless flirting – I will just need to trust that he knows when it’s appropriate, and when its not. I will no longer be able to give an internal stink eye to any girl he likes. Because chances are, one will be his partner, and I will need to learn to love her, imperfections and all. I will love her as a daughter, for the sake of my son. And I know, I know. I do know. I am incredibly privileged. Because watching your child grow up, it is the biggest privilege a mother could have. It is one denied to many and I am so thankful I have it. But that doesn’t make letting go easier.
For now, I put up with the jokes and the secrets, and he puts up with my neuroses. And I hope these days, these long summer days, when my baby sleeps just a wall away, that they last. These days, when I can still protect him, just a little. I hope, they don’t pass too soon. Not so soon.
Just a little while longer.
Bio:Viktoria is a single mother of two boys, and lives in Brooklyn, New York. She runs the homeschool blog www.getbrainybox.com
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