Life On the Other Side

When You Know You’re Parenting Teenagers


The years tend to sneak up. One day you bring a newborn home, and then you blink and have a sassy school age child. Another blink and you have a small adult in front of you. Of course children grow and become more independent all this time, but it happens gradually, in small ways that you tend to not notice. Until all of a sudden, you realize things are very different and wonder how you got here.

You not only wake up but have also accomplished things before your child is out of bed

Gone are the Saturday mornings where you wake up at dawn, even without an alarm, because someone is staring you awake or worse, jumping on you with a cheery “Wake up!” Instead, you wake up early (because after a dozen years, your body is finally trained to this schedule) and start your day. Maybe at lunchtime, you see a bleary-eyed person requesting breakfast. You may or may not comply. After all, how consistent are they when you make requests?

A family outing doesn’t require that you pack a “Mom Bag”

You can leave the house without first gathering a day’s worth of assorted snacks, a change of clothes for each child and an assortment of toys to keep everyone busy and happy. You may however want to remind them to bring chargers and headphones for the car ride.

Your spouse suggests a spontaneous night out and you simply agree

You go get changed and start to head out the door. You are met with gaping stares. “But what will WE eat?” Odds are, your fridge looks like mine. When you have teenagers, unless it is shopping day, there is an abundance of food. The problem is that some of it, gasp, needs to be prepared. You decide they can figure it out (they will have to someday anyway), and skip out the door.

One calls another a “pain in the ass” and you don’t even flinch

Even worse, sometimes you agree. “Yeah, you kinda’ are.” Gone are the days of getting upset when your kids use bad words, like “stupid.” You find that your own filter has disintegrated a bit, and words you are not proud of sometimes escape your lips. Admit it, you have lost that battle.

Friends with toddlers visit and start kid proofing your house

You are happy to host your friends and their kids. Your house is kid-friendly. You don’t mind the chaos that comes with children – the noise, the mess. You even put the breakables up high. But you forgot about the danger of outlets and small items. Oh, and the irresistible temptation of magazines and books (they make such a rewarding sound when they tear).

You make plans without checking your kids’ schedules

Sure your kids are busy, but they are driving themselves places or have friends picking them up. You can make plans weeks in advance for lunch or a weekend away. But some of your friends may have younger children, who are involved in sports and dance. They need to be available to transport them to and from these and playdates, or maybe even need to sit and watch. You forget about this when suggesting activities, then laugh when they remind you of their responsibilities. No worries, you can always open the bottle of wine while waiting for them.

PDAs ensure alone time with your spouse

Even an innocent kiss can drive them away. Teens don’t want reminders of how they got here. This also can be a good way to avoid requests for cash or car keys, or answering questions you don’t want to deal with.

Sometimes your child does something for you

Your teen is making lunch and makes a sandwich for you as well. He or she stops at Starbucks and hands you a cup with your favorite brew. You go to do a chore and discover it has already been done. Though this may be alarming, just say “thank you.” You’ve obviously done something right.


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