Friday, May 22, 2009

There's a word that brings chills to the spine, three syllables that can bring a grown man to his knees, a word so revolting to men and women alike it's like Kryptonite to Superman.

In German it's Jugendlicher, in Dutch it's tiener, in Swedish it's tonåring and in Chinese it's 少年 (I particularly like the Chinese version, c'mon say it with me!)

Friends and enemies alike shake their heads in stomach-churning pity, whispering among themselves as we pass, shells of our former selves. "Oh," they murmur to each other pitifully as the afflicted pass, "they have teenagers."

It's true, I am one of the afflicted. My name is Sharon and I'm the parent of a teenager.

I've survived my son's teenager years, barely. And it could've been better but hey, it could've been worse! No arrests, pregnancies, addictions, broken bones, house fires or smashed up cars. And not once has he ever said "I hate you". Thank God.

It's been 10 years since he became a teenager. Oh, you think, he's beyond it now, right? Wrong! It's not quite over yet. They mature faster than ever before but once they hit 19 the maturation process ends. Growth is halted. Frozen. Might even regress a little bit. I think it defrosts around 30 and they become human again but I'm not sure yet. Yes, 22 is the new 16. I love my first born, but I don't always understand him.

Now I'm not a perfect parent, so I'll get that out of the way before anyone starts posting comments about the less-than-perfect things I've done, and let's face it, will do again.

But I must have done something right, or right-ish anyway, because as much as Ziggy drives me crazy at times (her nickname based on mall behavior, zig-zagging from store to store), lately we've had some wonderful, insightful conversations that lead me to believe all is not lost.

PS - I'm not naive, so trust me when I tell you she's not pulling one over on me either. I knew when my son was experimenting with wacky tobacky, I can spot a BS'er from a mile away.

A new friend was recently caught doing some of those things that give teenagers (oh, that word! did you just shiver?) a bad name. I won't go too into detail here, but let's say, and maybe it's just me, that 13 year olds and alcohol should not mix. They also shouldn't pull an all-nighter at a boys house, or on the street, or anyplace other than where you told your parents you would be. Again, maybe it's just me.

But the thing is - Ziggy is no longer friends with the young lady in question. And this was HER choice. Yay Ziggy!

Several of her friends have also chose to distance themselves, and I stand up and applaud them all (quietly, in the corner so as not to draw attention to myself and embarrass the child).

I am so proud of the good choices she has been making lately that I was going to go out and buy her a pony. Or a car. Well, I thought about it anyway. Instead we went to Barnes and Noble and bought several magazines plastered with the smiling faces of the adorable Jonas Bros and an ice cream cone. Which is so much better than a pony anyway.

Now if only she'd hold my hand again in public, I miss that (sigh).


Doreen said...

I'm proud of her too! I wonder what she is going to say when she finds out you blogged about her. You know she thinks our blogs are "queer". Wait until she finds out she's the topic. :)

WendyCinNYC said...

Glad to hear your daughter is making some good choices. Mine are still little, 9 and 7, but on the cusp, and I've been trying to re-educate myself on the Ways of the Teen.

A good friend of mine is having a lot of trouble with her 16-year-old, despite her best attempts at mothering, and it just breaks my heart. I'm really hoping that these kids find their way safely.

Amy Sue Nathan said...

My kids (17 and 14) are making good choices too. The pride is amazing. It's a scary world for parents of teens.

And, thanks for your comment on my blog. I did try to reply via email but got one of those "fatal error messages." I so appreciated your kind words. It's always nice to *meet* someone who GETS IT. :)