Things That are Awesome About Teenagers: A Comprehensive List

I’ve noticed that more often than not when I get a compliment on my kids these days it is kind of coated in pleasant surprise that we all actually still like each other now that they are 16 and 13.  We’re right in the thick of the teenage years and I’m realizing that a lot of people are terrified by the thought.  Honestly I was one of them at one time.  I think that there’s this misconception out there that these years are destined to be full of angst and slammed doors and, well I’m just gonna’ say it…moody, hormonal assholes.  But I’m here to tell you that isn’t true.

I mean, okay maybe that’s sometimes true.  But they usually forgive me.  Badump bump.

Lean in and let me tell you a secret that is not often told: The teenage years can be really, incredibly awesome.  I’d even go so far as to say this is my favorite phase of parenthood yet.  Well, at least tied with that sweet, chubby, laughing baby phase.

Things That are Awesome About Teenagers: A Comprehensive List

1.  A teenager will NEVER wake you up at twenty til the buttcrack of dawn asking for Cheerios after she has kept you up all night insisting with a pouty lip that she needs to immediately watch The Little Mermaid for the eleventy-millionth time WITH YOU.

2.  Teenagers want to sleep in their own rooms…nay, in their own beds in a weird teenage blanket-burrito formation that keeps all their limbs neatly tucked in and will make you wonder why they didn’t sleep burrito style like that all the times they kept sneaking into your bed and somehow simultaneously stuffing one foot in your ear and another firmly in your crotch  while you prayed, “Just two solid hours of sweet, sweet sleep please God please.”

3.  If a teenagers spill something they can clean it up they dang selves.  What what.

4.  Teenagers do not demand to be carried, say, from the furthest point in the mall all the way to the car at the end of the parking lot.  They will willingly walk.  Unimaginable while you’re stuck in the toddler phase, isn’t it?  And even if they do get a little tired and over it, I have found that you can get them moving again by telling them that you think you saw a Starbucks near the entrance on the way in.

5.  You can share shoes and sometimes clothes.  I mean, they’ll always look better in them but let’s not focus on that.  This is a happy list.

6.  Teenagers can have actual meaningful conversations with you.  You know those days when you think that if you don’t get some grownup talky-time with someone who, say, doesn’t let their own nose drippings flow directly into their mouth that you might die by your own hands?  Boom!  You’ve got it!  Your teenager has real grownup thoughts and opinions on politics and religion and pop culture and love and there will be times when you will be stunned by the maturity and wisdom that just came out of the same mouth that just asked you how you tell if muffins look “done.”

7.  If they have a booger you can tell them and they’ll just, like, go handle that.

8. You can leave them home alone and go run errands, or get a pedi, or have a date night with your husband and not have to get a babysitter or worry that they might drown in a five-gallon bucket or stick their finger in a socket.  I know, that’s a revolutionary thought right now, isn’t it?   And moms everywhere shouted “FREEDOMMMM!”

9.  You realize that they are really growing into becoming their own person.  Not a mini-you.  Not a mini-him.  A separate, beautiful, independent and amazing person.  There will still be shadows and whispers of you and your spouse, to be sure, but there will be impressive and wonderful things there that you can take no credit for (believe me, I’ve tried. Nobody bought it) and you will marvel at them. This is when you realize your offspring aren’t merely little reflections of you, and that if you treat them as such you’re doing them a huge disservice (Btw, if you’re still doing that, stop it. Stop it now).

10.  Once they are 16 they can go to the grocery store for you when you forget the milk.  I don’t really feel like this one needs to be expanded upon.  It’s that obviously awesome.

I think that pretty much sums it up, but I reserve the right to add to this list often over the next several years.

Don’t fear the teenager, young moms.  And meanwhile appreciate those other stages too, because as much as I’m enjoying the now I don’t know that we ever stop longing for the yesterday too.  I guess that’s just part of it, isn’t it?


My Mason jar herb garden and my 10 year old femme fatale.

The whole fam was lying around last night watching that old Drew Barrymore Cinderella remake, Everafter.  Ever seen it?  It’s pretty cute, as Cinderella remakes go.  But there’s this one part where the evil stepmother (played by Angelica Houston.  She does evil very well) convinces a pudgy servant boy to do something shady for her in her attempt to get the prince to marry her horrible skank of a daughter.  You get the gist, right?  So I say something about how the evil queen is sweet-talking the kid into doing something he shouldn’t and Anna pipes up and says, matter-of-factly,

“Well, that’s how you get stuff from an unattractive man; you sweet-talk ’em!”

Okay, that’s funny yet also kinda’ not okay.  haha.  So, she and I had to have a little discussion and now I feel fairly confident that my ten year old is not going to live a life of weilding her feminine wiles in a cruel and horrible fashion.  Hopefully.

Earlier this week I decided to follow up on one of my Pinterest pins and make a little herb garden using some antique mason jars.  Adorable idea, right?  I had some very old Mason jars lying around…the kind with the lid with the separate little metal piece that slides over the top to hold it on?  So all I needed were the potting soil and the herbs.

I selected oregano, basil and rosemary and I’m so excited that the first two are already sprouting!  According to the seed packets, the rosemary takes a little longer so maybe it’ll pop up soon.  If I haven’t screwed it up already, that is.  I have no green thumb at all so it’ll be fun to see how quickly I kill them all.

C’mon, little rosemary! You can do it!

Check my oregano, ya’ll.


The Letting Go

It really hit hard this morning, just out of the blue. I don’t even know exactly how it happened.  I just had two little girls who liked to go crawl through the tube slides at the playground and pick out treasures at the dollar store and blow bubbles and draw with sidewalk chalk.  They’d run to me if they scraped a knee or an elbow or if the mean kindergartener at the top of the slide wouldn’t let them pass.  They would settle in as close to me as they could get when they were sleepy, so close that we were almost the same person, and tell me all kinds of things.

I had a teensy little pixie with blonde ringlets who would skip around singing little made-up songs in her little pixie voice.  I had a pair of little delicate noodle arms that smelled like sunshine (yes, sunshine does have a smell) from being outside, carefully and pensively studying the comings and goings of the inhabitants of a tiny patch of grass.

I had a solid little ball of sass who liked to paint the wall with sunscreen when my back was turned or run full-force into couch cushions and belly laugh with some serious gusto, friends.  I had rolls on chunky baby thighs capable of trucking their determined little owner into more mischief faster than I could blink and then she’d chuckle so big that I couldn’t help but laugh along with my chunky cherub.

And then those little girls were just…gone.  No more little pixie.  Gone is the chunky cherub.  Poof!  Replaced with beautiful creatures who debate the pros and cons of Nair versus shaving.  Instead of asking me to tie their shoes for them, the requests I get are more likely to be to the tune of, “Hey mom, could you adjust my bra strap?  This thing’s pinching my boob.”

I love these young ladies as much and maybe even more than their pixie and cherub predecessors.  They’re amazing. I adore who they are now, both because of and separate from the pixie and the cherub.  And, lucky, lucky me, they still come to me when they’re hurt (although now it’s less likely to be a scrape on the knee so much as a hurt of the heart). And when I’m really lucky, they each still occasionally want to curl up next to me for a moment of quiet, so close that we’re almost the same person, and they will talk to me about all kinds of things.

It’s just this:  Even though they are only 13 and 10, I have become super aware of how little time I have until the requests become, “Hey, mom, can I have the car keys so that I can disappear for hours on end with no adult supervision in which you can’t be certain that I’m alive or dead because I probably will not answer my phone because I’ll be making out with a boy who just got out of juvie?” and then, “Hey mom, can you help me plan a quick wedding?  We’ll only be five states away and I’m sure we’ll make it back for visits at least every two or ten years.”

Or, you know, maybe not that exactly but something like that.

The Letting Go.  That’s what it is that I dread.  And not only do I dread it, but I fear doing it wrong and messing up the job I’ve been so proud of up until then.  You know, you can’t be too clingy…you’ll push them away and make them resent you.  You also can’t be too permissive…they’ll find themselves somewhere they aren’t ready to be and you’ll have failed them.  Somewhere in between, there’s a magical sweet spot that I have to hope to achieve.

So I guess I just have to take a deep breath and see that the pixie is now the author of stories, the so very rational advice-giver to her friends, the intentionally un-“cool” yet still so cool girl with the quick, dry wit.

My cherub is the girl who loves justice, the softie who comes down hard all frowny-browed at anything less, who’s quick to grin, seeker of the quietest person in the room, pulling them into her bright light and making them her co-star.

And I know they’ll be okay (though that won’t stop my fretting).  Which means maybe I’ll be okay too.  And maybe if I’m super, super lucky, it won’t be too much to hope that even if just very rarely…sometimes they’ll still curl up beside me, so close that we’re almost the same person, and talk to me about all kinds of things.