Tuesday, April 30

The Countdown Begins

by Ava Cuvay

       
In a couple weeks, my oldest turns 13.

I’ve been dealing with the sullen, eye-rolling uncommunicativeness for a while now, but soon I’ll soon have an actual teenager in the house. And I’m looking for ways to teen-proof my life.

To be honest, my soon-to-be-teen is still very much like he was when he was a kid, only taller and with more hair and body odor. He can talk for days about the latest video games, but ask him about his grades and he blank-stares faster than poker player with a royal flush. He happily shares all the “Your Momma” jokes he and his buddies bandy about, but getting him to do chores is… well… a chore. Girls are starting to notice him, which embarrasses him. Mostly because Mom and Dad enjoy teasing him about it (one of the few perks of being the parent of a soon-to-be-teen) and, while I don’t think he’s ready to “notice” girls in return, I do think he senses the approaching tipping point where romantic and physical attraction become real.

The scariest part of having a 13-year old in the house--aside from the vast amount of food he can consume--is how real the slippage of time becomes. Every year, I sense how less the influence I have in his life is, and it’s terrifying. I already regret how small the moral foundation and how tenuous the tenets of faith have been… there were simply too few opportunities to impart these, and I’m not so sure he would have been listening anyway. I worry that he does not have the fortitude of spirit and strength of character to keep him steady when his road gets rough. And while there are single-digit years left before he goes off to college and even the real world, there are decades of life experiences I want him to have so I know he’ll be okay on his own.

I’m sure what I feel is perfectly normal. Yet knowing every parent goes through this doesn’t ease the concern that he won’t be ready when it’s time for me to kick him out of the nest. While he may know he needs to wear a condom during sex and to say no to drugs, he can barely get his dirty socks down to the laundry or refill the empty toilet paper. Yet kick him out I will, because I know he needs to fly.

I just wish he’d listen to my instructions on how to do it, rather than blindly assuming he already knows it all.

6 comments:

  1. You have my sympathy, empathy, and celebration, because rolling eyes aside, it's such a FUN time!

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  2. Oh, Ava, I feel for you so much. And don't forget he *is* listening, but just like we did, he has to try his own ways first. He's listening on the faith thing, too, but (and I know not everyone will agree with this) I think we learn more about faith once we're adults. We may hear the stories, but I truly - having been raised going to church three days/week - don't think I understood any of it until I was about 20 or so. I just knew my parents could ground me if I cussed or stole something. You've given him a foundation and when he's ready to learn more about faith, he'll start digging deeper.

    PS: bebe will only be 11 this summer, so we're not *quiiiite* at the teen thing but the tweens have already hit our house and... We just argued over the fact that she needs to get in the shower. She's only done it this way - up, shower, dressed, breakfast - since school began six years ago and yet this morning we've apparently *never done it this way*. And when I suggested - because she was up 10 minutes or so before me - that if she were that hungry she could've made herself a bowl of cereal, I might have been suggesting she go plant some wheat from which she might be able to create cereal in six months time and *my word* by then she'd have died from hunger and why don't I love her enough to make her breakfast? *headdesk*

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  3. As the mother of a 19 y/o Marine who just came home on leave, they ARE listening but more importantly, they are watching you live out your beliefs and what's important in life. Pick your battles wisely and let them make the small mistakes so they'll know how to handle bigger ones later on. You got this ;)

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  4. I so remember the teenage years. My oldest daughter was one of those kids who had to figure things out for herself. No matter what we told her, she had to make her own mistakes. But she (and my husband and me) got through it without too many scars. And you will too.

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  5. While there are certainly tough times, the good moments far out-weigh the bad. And I believe that even if it doesn't seem like our kids are listening, they usually are.

    When KB was twelve-ish, she went through a real disrespect stage with me. She was great at school--her 8th grade block teacher even came to watch her play softball, which in a school with 500+ students was kind of amazing. She was great with her coach who said he wished he had a team of KB's...but with me, not so much. Finally I reached my limit and I asked her why did I deserve the sh*t, when everyone else got the gold?And that worked. LOL. Who knew?


    After that, as she got older and started copping an attitude, I'd just say, "Attitude check." And within a day, she'd be back to normal. I'm not saying it will work for everyone, but it's worth a shot. LOL

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  6. Ah, you've got this, kiddo! And you know, keep that sense of humor--it's critical! Hugs, baby!

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