Home > Parenting > When Everything They Warn You About Is True

When Everything They Warn You About Is True

Breakfast Club

Just wait until they’re teenagers, people would tell me, as I struggled up a flight of stairs with a double stroller and a Baby Bjorn strapped to my chest, at least obscuring my leaky boobs if hurting my lower back. I was too exhausted to reply with a clever quip, but my deadpan stare surely said shut the fuck up.

Without saying they were right, because clearly they were spiteful, I acknowledge there is a certain truth to their words: parenting becomes more difficult, in different ways, when children are older.

The hard labour of diapers and car seats and stalking pediatricians is replaced with a constant doubt: am I doing the right thing?

I used to consult baby books, and whether it was Dr. Spock or What to Expect During the Toddler Years, there was a plethora of information, all with clear answers. But teething issues morph into texting issues, how much is too much? being the new hot topic.

Part of the problem is the world has changed. Technology has made the world I grew up in unrecognizable, and I grapple with new decisions, that have serious repercussions. When I wondered if my daughter should have a cell phone, I worried on both sides; whether she would spend too much time texting, and conversely that she would be left out of the conversation if she didn’t. Same thing with Facebook, Skype, Instagram, etc. I attended a lecture about the dangers of teenagers and social media, the message being use caution and hope for the best.

Okie-dokie, that was helpful. Two hours I won’t get back.

Then there are the age-old problems that I’m facing for the first time as a parent. Reports of drinking, rumours of drugs, whispers of sex; none of which are in our lives yet but are hovering on theĀ  horizon, far too soon. I want my daughter to have fun and enjoy her youth, and yet I quell a desire to lock her in her room every weekend.

With high school came makeup. One morning I noticed a hint of mascara, the next day it was a full-on smoky eye. The first day it was okay, fun! I even thought; the next day I made her take it off. The short shorts. The high heels. The cropped/backless/lace tops. No. No. No. Every morning she wakes, it seems she is a full inch taller and wanting to wear more makeup and less clothing.

As I deliberate the line between right and wrong, there is the attitude to deal with. What to do when your daughter talks to you like you are an imbecile? What is the appropriate comeback to shut up? Timeouts have had their time in the sun; I try to take away her computer, but then she can’t do her homework. Instead I take away her phone, but of course she simply uses her computer to talk to her friends. I try different measures, in the same way I continually try different brands of running shoes: I hope they will fix my injuries, but know they likely won’t.

These are just a few of the issues. Everyday there are more; more limits to set and more boundaries to create, which almost inevitably lead to lengthy discussions and the slamming of doors (sometimes hers, sometimes mine).

Attitude comes with the teenage territory, and the ground that we now tread on is full of potential landmines. I couldn’t see them back when I was pushing that double stroller, but to be fair I couldn’t see to the end of the day in that sleep-deprived state. As my friend explained to me the other day, all she wants to do is what’s best for her daughter. Something simple in theory, much harder in practice.

That could be what those seemingly spiteful people meant to say, all those years ago.

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  1. January 24, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    I’m still in the baby phase. I have years and years to worry about the teenage stage, and then, of course, the worry during those years. My sister assured me that the worrying IS the biggest trait of parents. What I worry about now will be so different from what I worry about in 10 years. But you better believe I’ll be there all mom-ish and worrying all the same.

    • January 24, 2013 at 7:07 pm

      Ah yes the worry wort sits firmly on my right shoulder at all hours of the day (and night…), it is ever present and gives me a crick in my neck!

  2. Julie Tessema
    January 24, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Thanks Deanna. Everything you write brings tears to my eyes! It’s fantastic! And true, I’m sure! I have three boys (17, 14, 10) and I am experiencing the teenage years with all of them! The 10-yr-old acts and talks like he’s a teen thanks to his older brothers’ influence. So I don’t have the make-up and lack of clothing issues, but the attitude and worries? Definitely! They do think that I and their dad are annoying and nuts half the time. But, they are all turning out to be such awesome and unique young men, all with strong personalities and opinions, that we try not to take their selfishness and occasional door-slamming too seriously. That’s all part of the teen years!

    • January 24, 2013 at 7:10 pm

      So you’re telling me it will get worse before it gets better, but yet there is hope at the end of the tunnel. I hope we all come out the other side of the teenage years with unique individuals, that would be a victory. And you’re well on your way, so congratulations!

  3. Marya
    January 31, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    UGH! I can hear the despair in your words and feel them in my life at the same time! My 14 year-old son is not the issue in our home though, it’s the 11 year-old boy who very often behaves as if he is a 16 year-old and thinks he is 25 years-old. Yup, def’ntly the issues have changed from when they were small, but the worrying has been a constant, and I fear that as parents, it will not ever truly go away.

  4. Deb Regan
    February 2, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    HI Dee

    It’s me, Deb. We are at Joanne’s and going on to Celtic Corner later. Thinking of you….at 13 at the CAA celebration at the Mic Mac Canoe Club. I remember you there with John, both of you in high gear, not at all giving one second worth of thought to your age as the celebration raged on and I wondered what I would say to your mom if she asked me the wrong question. Honestly, it was all so great, I loved paddling with you…what am I talking about…trying to keep up to you, and to your brother, took all I had. Love you, hang in there. Deb XO

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