I used to think having toddlers was the hardest test of Motherhood and some kind of divine punishment, until I had a teenager.
The tricky part is that they often act like regular people and then SURPRISE, crazy is in the room.
Yesterday I had our 16-year-old and 11-year-old twins in the car. Answering a backseat inquiry of where we were going I replied “We are dropping T off at his girlfriend’s house.” I was immediately and strongly reprimanded: “Mom, she is NOT my girlfriend.” “Oh-OK, well what is she then?” I asked “If you insist on this track of conversation I am going to sit in the back of the van.” Ouch. Once upon a time I would withhold his Gameboy if he didn’t eat his broccoli. Now he is withholding what he knows is sacred to me: conversation. It seems like this switcheroo happened overnight.
The late, great Erma Bombeck once said “Raising teenagers is like nailing Jello to a tree.”
I agree, except teenagers are squirmier. Go ahead, try and hug one. Ours tells me I get a “crazy ‘hug’ look” which is why he escapes to his room where loud alternative rock quickly blasts out of the IPOD speakers. This is meant as a deterrent. The flaw in his plan is that I really like alternative rock. But, I get it- I wouldn’t want my parents thinking my music was cool either. I would have probably turned to Liberace or something. BUT, I’m not like OTHER Moms I tell myself, I remember what being a teenager felt like. That wide divide between parent and kid. When he was little I was never Room Mother or Team Coach. I wanted him go to school and sporting events knowing he was supported but allowed regular childhood events like not being picked for this or that unfold without my interference. I listened and gave advice and offered to intervene if he wanted in these (thankfully rare) instances, but only had to once.
That’s why it cut to the bone when I dropped him off for lacrosse practice a couple of years ago and he gave me these directions: “When you pick me up don’t get out of the car.” startled, I asked: “How are you going to know that I’m here?” “I’ll find you-just stay in the car.” I drove home shocked and in disbelief. Do I embarrass my son? I remember my friend Stacey’s horror when her Mom would pick her up from our gymnastics practice in high school. Mrs. P. would click into the gym in red hot-pants, 4 inch heels with aqua-netted Dolly Parton hair waving at Stacey and stage-whispering “I’ll be right over here!”
I wear regular jeans and tops and if anything my taste in clothes is classic but certainly not hot-to-trot, or conversely too conservative. Besides, I’m cool. So what’s with the ‘keep away’ vibes Mr. Teenager? You certainly need me when it’s time to get your learner’s permit, buy new clothes or upgrade your cell phone! Yes, I have said those things to The Boy. The Boy is however, 6 ft 1 and has developed a half-smile/smirk expression that I am learning to translate. Gone are the days when he would run into my arms. We used to play a game called Koala Hug. I would walk around pretending to do household things like fold the laundry while he clung to me with arms and legs wrapped around my torso saying “Whatever you do, I won’t let go!”
But he is letting go. I guess that means I have to.
But not yet. I’m not done with him yet. I haven’t finished teaching him all the really important things. Like grace, humility and being strong when you really want to crawl back under the covers.
Tonight though, I got him. We were in the kitchen and as he walked towards the fridge I faked left and spun and grabbed him in the torso. I held him tight, breathed in the smell of his t-shirt and he actually hugged me back.
I couldn’t see, but he may of been smirking. I didn’t care.