Sunday, May 14, 2017

REMINISCING: The Teenagers Are Coming! The Teenagers Are Coming!

Mother’s Day in 2004 was a warm day. Wendy was thirty-five weeks pregnant with the twins. Two days later, we welcomed IdaLena and Patience to the world. This year, their birthday was the Thursday before Mother’s Day. For any of you mathletes out there, that means the twins are now thirteen years old. That’s right, I am the parents of not just one teenager; I am the parent of two. Let the games begin.

This year, we missed their big birthday. The twins went on a band trip to Richmond, Virginia to compete at King’s Dominion. It was the first time they’ve ever been that far away from us, and it also being their birthday, it was a bit surreal. Thirteen is a big deal. It was the age when I had one of my very few birthday parties. Wendy had one, too. The girls got something really cool. I just wish we could have been a part of it.

So, now that they’re teenagers, what’s going to change? Probably more of the same. I regularly hear the collective eye rolls whenever I make a dad joke or a pun. (Actually, they’re pretty much the same thing. I’m not sure why they’ve been renamed dad jokes.) Miserable attitudes? We’ve already got that. They know everything? Yep, we’ve got that, too. Maybe it’s boys. We’ve kind of had that already, too.

Every day is an adventure in parenting, no matter the age. I love it when they come home with the “newest” joke from school, and it is the same joke that we heard when we were in school (sometimes slightly changed for pop-culture references), and is probably the same joke our parents told.

Parents tend to play dumb. I hate to give away state secrets, especially if the kids are reading this, but we really know most of what’s going on. My parents knew that we were building forts in the woods, supplemented by “borrowing” building supplies from backyards of other neighbors. They knew we were selling golf balls back to the duffers at the county course. Sometimes they even knew of the trouble we caused before we even got home. They let us dig our own holes.

It’s no different with my kids. They think they’re pulling the wool over our eyes. We chuckle at their attempts most of the time. Occasionally, we get a little annoyed that the same wool keeps getting pulled. That’s when we really get on them.

We try telling them that it’s been easier for them than it was for us. I think every parent tries to pull that on their kids. In our case, it’s mostly true. I’m a pushover. I’m fine with letting things slide until they reach a certain point. Then I really get on them. Wendy likes structure, and she gets upset when chaos creeps in. That frustration turns into stress. Other than that, we’re pretty easy going.

My parents? The threat of “wait until your father gets home” was a regular occurrence. We got spankings, and we’re not maladjusted at all. We were grounded. Wendy’s family was much the same way. Our kids don’t really get spankings. They’ve each had a couple of swats, but not actual spankings. They have spent a lot of time in the corner of the kitchen, adding minutes to standing there with every piss and moan.

Now with teenagers, hormones get added into the equation. Sometimes, trying to deal with that is like attempting to nail Jello to a tree. The moans of “you all hate me” and “no one ever believes me” are common refrains in the house now. Sometimes, there is no apparent reason for it, except that we don’t agree with something they’re saying.   

I don’t want my kids to grow up too quickly, but I truly hope that they get through these “the world is against me moments” fairly soon. I already dread the whole boyfriend and breakup moments that are sure to come. We’ve had a touch of that because some boy “won’t be my boyfriend.”

People say that newborns will test your patience with their constant crying and inability to communicate clearly their issues. I say it’s far worse with tweens and teens. They still don’t have the ability to communicate clearly their issues. That is the most frustrating part of it all. When you try to get a clear answer, you get the annoying sigh and “you just don’t understand,” as they’re stomping away. Unfortunately, we do understand but our guidance is ignored.

Being a parent is one of the greatest things ever in life. Each day is an adventure, and no matter how much stress they bring you, there are moments that melt your heart and remind you how awesome you collectively are.

Craig Bacon is sure he’ll be able to hear all the eye rolls from here as his kids read this later. In other news, he wishes all mothers everywhere a very happy Mother’s Day.