Sanity

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I have been working with teenagers since I was barely out of my teens, myself, so when I had my children, I remember wondering what I was ever going to do with these tiny babies. I was pretty sure I would be fine once they reached their teens, but the baby stages… they puzzled me. Nonetheless, I made it all the way from the baby stage to now, layering years and parenting and experiences to get to this point. Now that they are teens, I am still pretty sure that these are the best years yet. Complicated, conflicted, confusing, confounding, but definitely, the best yet.

Every now and then, however, there is a moment that makes me question. You know all those things you’ve heard about teens being moody and unpredictable from one minute to the next? Some days, those things are not true at all. But other days, those things are incredibly spot on.

From one child to the next, it seems I have a pattern in which I “forget” some of the more challenging things. There are days I have to consciously remind myself that some battles just aren’t worth fighting. One morning this week, it was about a sweatshirt. Fact: child in question didn’t have one. He did have a jacket, so I suppose that was a step in the right direction.

“You’re going to be cold in school,” I informed him.

“No I’m not,” he retorted with complete certainty. No. Of course you’re not.

“I hope you don’t plan to wear your jacket around school all day,” his sister chimed in. “That’s just wrong.” And the next thing I knew, he was off moping in the other room. Because moping. As we’ve all heard, it’s what teenagers do.

His absence from the room gave me a brief moment of pause in which I considered what it was that drew me to my work with teens…. Perhaps I had been misleading myself all along. But the teens I work with are other people’s kids. They don’t usually treat me like I’m ignorant.

Moping child came back into the room just in time to pack his backpack and scoot out the door. “Don’t think that just because your jacket is zipped up all the way that you’re fooling me!” I called after him.

“Ugh!! Teenagers are so obnoxious!!” my daughter stated with an overly dramatic eye roll as she put on her jacket. And we laughed together before she slipped out into the darkness of the early morning. And I focus on this.

Some days, I wonder if I will make it through the teen years with my sanity intact. But each time this household spirals into the depths of teenage moodiness, there is someone to pull me through it with a joke or a smile or a sarcastic comment. There is always someone to add a layer of fun or silliness to the situation. And as my son is so quick to remind me, “Mom, you didn’t get into this with your sanity intact!”

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