It’s funny how much advice exists about how to deal with small kid issues. Books, magazines, blog posts, television shows, radio podcasts . . . it’s abundant. How do you stop the pacifier habit? What do you do about nap-times? What’s the best age to potty-train? Everyone has an opinion and a solution and facts to help the new mother.
But we old moms? Those of us who have teenagers whom we can’t really discuss because they have Internet access . . . well, we are the ones who truly need help. We have questions without answers and worries that can’t be addressed with a time-out and a reward chart. We’ve been mothers long enough to know that we really don’t have a clue and that everything that unfolds will unfold with or without our permission or guidance. What we want is assurance but no one can assure us of anything. I liked being a mom of a two-year old better. I felt more competent back then.
Oh, the old days of struggling with overdoses of apple juice and tantrums on the kitchen floor and picky eaters seem like a fairy tale compared to now.
Part of the problem for me is that I was one of those teenagers who had no interest in causing trouble or wreaking havoc. I was a careful young person, determined not to make mistakes. I babysat on weekends and spent time in the library looking for more reading material. I was independent from a young age and focused on the future. So I have no idea how to relate to teenagers who aren’t me.
Well, maybe you know what I mean.
Parents of teenagers who are really troublesome keep quiet. No one wants to admit defeat. And you can’t really talk about your teenager without it getting back to your kid.
Of course, there are parents of teenagers who are thriving, who are Mr. Homecoming and the Class President and who have found a cure for cancer already while rescuing unwanted kittens and writing classical music for the cello. Those kind of parents make me feel like a failure . . . even though I know that their parenting has little to do with their kid’s achievement . . . because some kids are just like that. Someone has to be Mr. Homecoming and the Class President, after all.
I believe most behavior is genetic. It’s pre-programmed, just as inevitable as brown eyes or knobby knees. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking maybe I can change the course of a river with a few gentle suggestions and raised eyebrows.
I wonder if someday I’ll look back on this phase of life with something resembling nostalgia. I kind of doubt it.