Over the last few months, this column has turned heavy. I suppose it’s inevitable through the teenager years for the content to change. The days of explosive diaper changes in rest stops and chaotic double bath times have been replaced with daily complexities of raising teens that leave me waffling between stress exercising for hours and pouring a few stiff drinks to soothe the soul. Some days both happen honestly.
The teen years are tough, but I do try and understand these days are difficult on them as well. Adults strive all their lives for the perfect work-play balance, and teens often find themselves juggling far more than they can handle when school, activities and social life are considered. Mix in some daily requests from parents for information and better communication and the result can be combustible at times.
It’s this acceptance and understanding colliding with generally high expectations that makes parenting so complicated. Therefore, it does me good to spend some time in light thought considering the crazy antics of raising kids.
A few instances to share:
- One day I recently I went outside to do some yard work without my phone. When I came back in, there were 12 missed calls from Beckett, who I figured must have hurt himself somewhere in the house. I raced up the stairs to his room to find him on his bed. It turns out there was nothing wrong. He just wanted me to know he was out of Gatorade in case I was at the store or near it. It was nice of him to try and help me, but I couldn’t help but notice how he didn’t seem to like not being able to reach me easily.
It reminded me of this meme I saw recently that said, “You know you’re the parent of a teenager if they won’t answer any of your calls, but they’ll call you 27 times in a row until you answer.”
- Maybe it’s just my 13-year-old kid, but it seems like teachers have been throwing a lot of pop tests and pop quizzes lately. I feel like there are multiple each week.
This sort of forgetfulness about the important things in his life drives me crazy. When I asked him about it over dinner, he said, “I don’t know what’s going on, but it must be a covid thing.” It’s hilarious to me he actually thinks we believe he knew absolutely nothing about the impending tests. There were some wrong choices made.
- Both kids love convenience store stops on road trips. They truly get excited going into a Wawa or Royal Farms. It’s all about the snacks, and they quickly accumulate a lot in a short period of time.
Beckett is obvious about his desires because he says every single thing on his mind. He can’t just have one box of M&Ms. He needs three different kinds. He also must seek out the drink with the most sugar, touching off a negotiation every time.
Carson is a bit more methodical in his approach. He also takes advantage of me while I limit Beckett’s grabby hands. When I went to check out on a recent road trip, I was using the self-register and was shocked at what was put in my shopping bin while I limited Beckett. The quiet kid was working me over.
As I scanned the items, Carson, usually right by my side in public places because he gets anxious, was a few feet away flipping through a coupon book smiling. When I said, “really Carson?” to three bags of Carolina BBQ chips, he turned his head and looked up at the ceiling, as if he knew nothing of what I was talking about.
When we got back to the truck, Pam asked, “what did we get?” I think I said everything before going back in because I never did use the bathroom – the whole intention of the stop.
- Serious questions were fired at me when I returned back from the grocery store without cookies. When I said look in your drawer there are two packages in there. Beckett pulled them out, opened them and emptied the crumbs on the floor. We then had a fun back-and-forth chat over whether I was in the wrong for not checking to see if they were empty or if he was to blame for not disposing of the empty packages when he finished their contents. I left that little chat not as smart as I entered it.
- We headed to Dick’s Sporting Goods in Salisbury Saturday for a new lacrosse helmet. I am pretty sure his old helmet would have fit if it were not for his voluminous hair. As soon as got back from the store with his expensive new helmet, I saw a friend post on Marketplace a rarely used helmet for half of the cost. Because he has great taste, he begged to be able to keep the new helmet rather than the hand me down.
- I am proud to have turned Beckett on to some classic rock of late. His previous favorites were hip hop and rap, which I just don’t know much about. A song he has been playing repeatedly lately has been Mary Jane’s Last Dance by Tom Petty, one of his parents’ favorite musicians.
During a recent ride, Pam asked if he knew what the song was about. When he replied no, she explained it was referring to Mary Jane as marijuana and Petty’s battle with drug addiction. He seemed shocked, saying something along the lines of but this song was released in the early-90s. He seemed to be maintaining there were not drugs that long ago.