By Crystal Hill of Simplify Mommyhood
I was terrified to raise teenagers. I always knew that my little baby boys would grow up, but I didn’t want them to. I felt like I could relate to, talk with, and effectively discipline toddlers and preschoolers. I did not think I’d be able to do that with tall, beefy, surly, eye-rolling, hormonal, stinky teenage boys.
My boys are now 15 and 17 and to my utter amazement, they are an absolute joy. I enjoy being with them now more than I ever did when they were younger. They’re witty, clever, wise, and thoughtful. Sure, they have their surly, eye-rolling moments. But for the most part, they are a pleasure. And shockingly, they don’t even stink.
One of my favorite things about having teenage boys is the occasional lessons I learn from them. Sometimes they’re painful truths, other times they’re profound points of wisdom. But they always get me thinking. Lately, I’ve learned these six things from my teenage sons:
1. If I thought I was up on the new hit singles, I would be wrong.
When I bring up an awesome song I’ve never heard before to my teenage son, he will gently inform me that it is from 2015. I will receive a pitiful look and be told that the song is indeed “old.”
2. Sometimes it’s funny to be a little inappropriate.
At 5 it was fart jokes. At 16 it’s something about deez nutz. Either way, it’s dang hilarious. Sometimes it gets out of control, but even then, I’m stifling laughter.
3. Being lazy is an important life skill.
No, seriously. Hear me out. I used to get so mad at my oldest son for cutting corners, finding the easy way out, and just being generally lazy. Then I realized that my second son could stand to be a little more lazy himself. This second son is incredibly hard on himself and is always stressing himself out by doing more than is expected of him. I realized the lazy son was onto something. So I passed on to the younger son what I’d learned from the older one. I taught him that’s it’s OK to cut a few corners and find the easy way out. Doing the bare minimum is acceptable if it means saving your sanity. It’s not laziness. It’s efficiency.
4. “You don’t have to defend yourself:”
My 15-year-old son said this to me once as I explained to him why I had done something. As a person who second-guesses and overthinks everything, this concept was completely revelatory to me. It comforted me to think that my 15-year-old son, the one who exudes confidence and swagger from his very pores, had enough confidence in and respect for me that he didn’t need my insecure explanations. He just needed me to be me.
5. To be OK with guilt.
My boys and I decided to get nostalgic one Sunday afternoon and play a game of Mario Kart like we used to do when they were little. While playing, I mentioned that I felt guilty for not giving the toddler more attention. My 17-year-old said, “So, don’t give him attention, and just feel guilty.” In reality, he just wanted me to keep playing, but it was interesting to think that I could continue what I was doing and not let the guilt bother me.
I always felt like guilt was something to be gotten rid of through changing your behavior. But the toddler wasn’t hurt or neglected, he was just fine. I learned that sometimes, you just have to ignore the guilt and keep doing what you’re doing. At times, your teenagers need you just as much as your toddler does. Even if it’s just playing an old-school game from their childhood with them.
6. It’s more important to be kind than to be honest.
My 15-year-old came home from an activity and told me that a younger boy had wanted to play basketball with their group, but an older boy said, “Aw, man! We don’t want him!” My son called the older boy out on how mean it was for him to say that, especially right in front of the kid who wanted to play. But the older kid just responded with, “It’s better than saying it behind his back.” In the car, after the activity, my son vehemently disagreed. He made a great point when he told me, “If you say something behind someone’s back, you feel bad. But if you say it to their face, you BOTH feel bad.”
I definitely don’t condone talking about people behind their backs, but I certainly don’t want hurtful things said right to their face. He’s right. That’s worse. Both are unkind, but saying it to their face shows a completely callous disregard for their feelings. Besides, just because something is true doesn’t mean you should say it. I’d rather my boys be kind than be brutally honest.
I love having teenage boys. They have a unique wit and wisdom that makes life fun and interesting. Now I’m actually glad my little baby boys grew up because they grew up to be great people. And we still get to play Mario Kart together.
About the Author
Professional mom of 17 years. Married with 5 kids. I have a degree in Marriage, Family and Human Development. I have a lot of experience carpooling and changing diapers. I’m really good at oversharing and cracking myself up, usually at the same time. I love watching crime dramas and absurd comedies when I have the time, reading when I have the attention span, and running when I’m not too fat. You can find me at simplifymommyhood.com and Facebook @simplifymommyhood and Pinterest @simplifymommy.