Thursday, January 7, 2010

On Teenagers

Ever heard of the blog Clover Lane? It's a blog I enjoy. I don't know how I found it, I don't know how I find ANY blog these days. But Sarah is the mother of five children ranging from toddler-hood to teenage-hood. Her topics vary from decorating to pregnancy and raising children. Her thoughts and ideas provoke me in one way or another, either into action or an eye roll. No, I don't always agree with her. But I do enjoy reading about another mom who cares, genuinely and deeply, about where her family came from and where they are going. I know a lot of us out there do.

This particular post of Sarah's intrigued me. I don't have teenagers, but I'm pretty sure I will one day. As I read this post my thoughts kept turning to one of my sisters, who will have a teenager in the house within a month and a half. She's mentioned to me on many occasions how crazy it is to realize how short of a time period we actually have these kids in their life spans. And even how much more short of a time period we have to actually have children that want to listen to us and be around us. Teenage-dom is not famous for that.

Without further ado, I repost her words, "On Teenagers." You can also find the post here. Read it, it's not long.

04 January 2010

On Teenagers...The Whole Stinkin' Lot of Them

I have two teenagers. I love them. I love their friends. I love their classmates. Even the ones that my own teenagers don't especially even like. I love them all.
I love teenagers.
Oh, I think sometimes the two I have now, plus the 3 others that will one day grow into teenagers, might just be the death of me yet.
But I have a secret to tell you.
Something I never really thought about till my oldest taught it to me.
Here it is.
Listen carefully, mothers of innocent helpless babies, cute, cuddly toddlers, and darling, funny children everywhere.
One day this:

Will be this:

Let's go over that again just so it sinks it real good.


My point?
Hold on a second, I have to wipe the tears off the keyboard.

It's not that I didn't think that every birthday meant my children were one year older from becoming that dreaded word: teenager. It's just that I DIDN'T think...I didn't THINK about it at all.

Let me tell you what I've learned so far:

1. Teenagers have a bad rap that they don't deserve. I know, I know, you have a thousand and one examples of WHY they deserve it. I did too...and I am the first to admit that the words, "Teenagers these days..." have come out of my mouth and into the breeze just as they have for centuries before us. I am NOT innocent on that front. But you know what? I have never met a teenager I didn't like. Have you? If you ever did, let me tell you, if you would have had a chance to have a quiet moment, an open-minded talk, REALLY listening, away from their peer group maybe, you would love each and every one of them. They are all sweet and vulnerable inside and if not, I'll bet you my last stashed away piece of chocolate I'm saving for tonight, that you can contribute it to an ignorant adult(s) who damaged them in some way and they've built survival mechanisms to prevent that from happening again.

2. Teenagers are smarter than us. Not in all ways but in this way: they are quick judges of characters...and usually get it right...and I'm talking where adults are concerned. They know instincitvely if they can trust you or not, they know from the get-go if you respect them, if you like them, if you will give them a chance or if it's not even worth trying. They can see it by the look on your face instantly.

3. Teenagers are SO vulnerable. And adults take advantage of this vulnerability to treat them badly sometimes...because they can "get away with it". I have seen teenagers over the years being treated so rudely by an adult and no one steps in. It irks me to no end. A group of teenagers, standing and talking somewhere, being told to "move out of here". No one would dare talk like that to a group of adults! If someone talked to YOU like this, what would your response be? Do you know how many times I've sent a teenager of mine into a store or restaurant to pick something up for me and they have been cut in front of, spoken to rudely, ignored by MANY adults? Burns me up.

4. Teenagers are children. CHILDREN who are sometimes expected to know and learn things we take lifetimes to figure out. How to steer away from the "wrong" people, how to demand respect and still behave politely, how to love openly and fully, but how to take care of OUR spirit and our needs too. How to pick friends, how to set priorities, how to use manners, and the tone of voice necessary to portray politeness. The list goes on and on...and before you expect teenagers to know all this in a few short years, look around. How many adults do you know (including yourself!) who are still trying to figure this out?

I know, before I had kids, I was sort of "afraid" of this age group. Who wants to talk to some weird outdated lady that says, "Cool beans!" all the time, I thought. What could WE possibly have in common to talk about? Sometimes teenagers are so awkward, so self-conscious. But you know what? Once I let my fears go, and was just genuinely MY SELF, willing to laugh, to ask questions, to be vulnerable, to listen, to learn, to talk them like I was talking to a friend of mine, I came to realize that this age, this "teenager-hood" has a bad reputation it doesn't deserve.

I have learned SO MUCH from my 2 teenagers and their friends and cousins and could not be more thankful for this knowledge. Fresh, see-it-as-it is knowledge, knowledge about people, about situations, about LIFE, you could NOT get anywhere else...not the most prominent psychologists, spiritualists, philosophers.

It's something to look forward to. It's something to be excited about. It's a stage of childhood that has it challenges, but the rewards are greater than you can ever imagine.


Marci said...

Truthfully my first favorite age is about 2.5 and then I can't wait for teenagers! Love them always I just have a really good feeling about my kids as teenagers!

Tracy said...

This makes me teary as I think about Brayden because I often enjoy him so much, like she said, in a friend way... Funny, Rick and I were just joking with him this morning about him being an official teenager in one month. We predicted about how, naturally, he'll appreciate and understand everything his parents have to suggest because he'll be THAT mature. We're already seeing teenagey moods with him, but beneath it we've got a good relationship and I think he genuinely likes being with us and vice versa. I hope we can hang on to that as he becomes more and more independent.

Sarah said...

That is a really sweet post. Thanks for the tip on the new good blog read.
Also, thanks for the encouragement and advice about our pipes. It's good to know a few new tricks so hopefully they won't freeze up again.