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Posts Tagged ‘teenagers’

When Everything They Warn You About Is True

January 24, 2013 6 comments

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 the  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.

Dancing in the Dark

October 24, 2012 2 comments

Skipping their way to high school

My daughter started high school this September, and we are floundering, groping for a life preserver in harrowing seas, searching for something to hang on to before the next wave pulls us under. Not her, my daughter – oh no, she is having the time of her life – but we, as in my husband and I, and my comrades, grade eight moms with whom I drink wine.

They make it look so easy on Glee, the parents don’t even have a role to play. Which is exactly the point. I wasn’t quite ready to not play a part.

We were excited to start high school, and this time I mean both my daughter and I. Eight years in the same school, ten if you count preschool, and we were ready for a change. Change is good, keeps you young, invigorates your mind, restores sanity ( so I’m hoping). Even though change meant leaving her idyllic and inspiring elementary school, we squared our shoulders and bought a new, sturdier backpack for those heavy textbooks she would be hauling back and forth, and showed up for the first day wearing new, albeit ripped, jeans and a slightly nervous smile.

It turned out to be as shiny as the apple she refused to eat, having discovered pizza bagels in the cafeteria. High school was all that and more: locating her classes and navigating between campuses was challenging and interesting, bigger classes and a much larger school meant more friends, more boys, more teams, more clubs, more everything. All good, all exciting, two thumbs up, four if you count mine. (I personally had a little trouble finding her classes for parent teacher night, so let’s downgrade that to three, but why am I even in the picture?) My daughter was loving high school, is loving high school.

The problem, however, is she outgrew her knee-highs and grew into a social life overnight, while I simply rolled over in my sleep.

In the good old days, like two months ago, she did what we did on the weekend. If that meant trooping to her sister’s soccer game and then visiting friends for dinner, we did it together. But not now. Now there are football games to watch and movies to go to and mass sleepovers to attend and dances and the all-worrisome parties. Our measly social life is in peril, our babysitter is perennially busy. That is sad, seeing as we have only recently rekindled our dormant extracurricular lives; but what is even worse is this feeling that our cozy little bubble, the one that was all-knowing, all-hearing, all-seeing, due to my ability to hover over my daughter and discuss with other parents the innermost thoughts of our children (and occasionally break into her computer when there were discrepancies), this bubble has been burst open to reveal one single bold question mark.

I knew that starting high school would be the beginning of new independence for her, even went so far as to wish for it; I just didn’t expect it to hit so quickly.

So now we are scrambling to find and institute new boundaries. Huddling with other parents to compare notes and gather whatever information we can. Enrolling in social media lectures to help with this affront. I book her weeks in advance for babysitting, and ignore her inevitable eye roll.

And now we hope. Hope that all of those lessons we droned into her made some tiny impact, and that the choices she will make – without us hovering – will be good ones.

Rites of Passage

April 16, 2012 5 comments

There are many firsts to celebrate: first words, first steps, first day of school. Before the dust has settled on the dazzling accomplishment we start to look forward to the next, with hopeful hearts. They are precious, these firsts, and so we mark them with balloons and cupcakes, we snap a hundred photos when one would suffice, we take video footage we may never watch. We sigh and oh and ah and gaze in wonder at our talented, beautiful protégé. These moments are our payback for all those times we thought about packaging our sweet darlings up and shipping them to where the sun doesn’t shine, but then thought again.

Today, her first regulation field hockey game, followed by her first date. The game was exciting, but it’s the date we are buzzing about.

At this very innocent and tender age, parental involvement is a key component, so when she asked would I drive her to the theater to meet her date, there was no hesitation. In the midst of a crazy weekend that involved too many things, book clubs, skiing, soccer, field hockey, and dinner parties, the answer was a resounding yes. For you, I would move mountains. Not that I’m keen to thrust her into the world of dating, but for this first, her first innocent coupling, which caused a glow in her eyes and a blush in her cheeks, this we can manage.

He asked her over Skype, which is apparently how it all shakes down these days. My instructions were to deliver her to the theater at the appointed time. I quelled my desire to phone or email the boy’s mom, to her great relief, as apparently landlines are provincial and only a step above snail mail. Yet checking with other moms is as instinctive as putting butter on my popcorn. It felt funny to not double check the time and location with another adult; leaving the logistics up the kids is foreign to me. This is a first, I reminded myself, this is what it must be like, back off.

Sensing this moment called for something – advice? didactic story from my past? lecture? – I readied myself to impart wisdom, but she wanted to listen to the radio. She spotted the boy and his mother waiting outside the theater from two miles away. I instinctively reached for her hand as we approached them, which seems more awkward since we are the same height, and she politely rebuffed me, of course.

Mercifully, the other mother was as perplexed as I was about how to handle the situation. We laughed and talked and watched our kids turn three shades of crimson before sending them in together. I resisted the urge – however powerful – to record the moment with a snapshot, and instead recorded a mental image of two kids, both with freckles, braces, and red ears. Another first to celebrate, albeit quietly.