I love having a big family. This is a disclaimer about the bitching I’m about to do about the risk of having teenagers. I realize now that the reason why infants and toddlers are so cute it’s so you remember that you love them when they morph into obnoxious teenagers. It’s nature’s way of ensuring their survival.
When your kids are toddlers, you often don’t know how you will survive it. When your kids are teenagers, you start to wonder why you let them survive. (*Calm down, I’m only halfway joking!) I’m not just talking about puberty and how they morph from cute little tykes who love you and think you are the greatest to pouty, resentful, sullen preteens. I mean, puberty sucks (see my previous post On Puberty) but what about that time after puberty has raised its ugly head and the point that they move out and appreciate what a good parent you are?
I currently have 2 1/2 teenages in residence. I say 2 1/2 because #3 is 19 and is on that cusp of almost being an adult. If adults lived at home, slept til 12, played computer games and worked 4 hours a night at a pizza place. #4 is firmly in teenager hood. He is a good teenager. He has a mustache. He does his own laundry. He is passing school and gets himself up for school and still likes to talk to his parents. #5 is the exact opposite. He has patchy facial hair that resemble pubes glued in random spots. He does his own laundry by washing all of his clothes at once and then forgetting that he washed them. He has an aversion to the dryer apparently. He also has an aversion to listening, doing his chores, and making curfew and checking in.
I understand that teenagers are testing limits. I understand that they need to flex their muscles, so to speak, in toeing the line about what they can and cannot get away with. So do toddlers. But toddlers are cute, not hairy, and toddlers are just learning how to listen. By the time they reach teenagehood, they should have the listening thing down. Right?
Every one of my children who managed to survive toddlerhood (we’re 6-0 so far, #7 is almost out of toddlerhood) have gone through the stage of “my parents are dumb and don’t understand.” I appreciate the fact that #1 and #2 successfully circumvented their teenage years and are independent adults. They made it! #3 is on the verge of adulthood and he is a responsible kid who appreciates his parents. #4 spoiled me and #5 is trying his best to break me. I am not looking forward to #6 and #7 testing the waters because at that point they will have adult siblings to back them up in the fight for independence.
I just wish that teenagers could go through a two week period of resentment and than blossom into those kids I hear about but have never seen. You know, the ones that are respectful and listen? They are like a myth. A beautiful wonderful myth.