I’m super sick of these blogs about how hard it is to be the parent of a toddler. Like sooooo sick of them. Bullet points, numbered lists, grafts, charts…ENOUGH! Yes, having kids is hard. Having babies is oh so difficult and you are really special and relate-able. Babies cry and poop and totally mess up your circadian rhythm and are just like drunk college kids…whatever. I’m going to tell you something that NO ONE tells people who are thinking of becoming parents. Something that no one tells new parents. It. Gets. Worse.
Here’s an inside tip : The baby years (where you go from only caring about yourself to being forced to care for another human being) lead into the toddler years (where you not only have to care for another human being but you have to start teaching that little mess of flesh how to BE a human) which leads into the school age years (where things might be smooth sailing for a bit, if you don’t run into bullying or obesity or strange habits or learning disabilities) which lead into the Teenage Years which will scar you for life.
Having a teenager is exactly like having a toddler except they are bigger, stronger, louder, smarter and have less of a sense of self preservation. They are far more cunning, baffling and powerful than any drug you might have done back in the 60’s. You will be in shock, your jaw will drop daily and you will be absolutely unprepared to deal with the roller coaster of hormones and emotions and the rage oh Lord the rage! At things, at YOU, at school, at curling irons, at jeans that don’t fit, at siblings, pets, homework, cable tv, sneakers, music, God, bacon, yes bacon. Remember when your 2 year old fell down screaming in the middle of the mall because they wanted to take the carousel home? That x1000 = The Teenage Years.
Nothing will prepare you for The Teenage Years. You may think you are well prepared because you remember what you were like as a teen. And you sort of look forward to bonding with your own teen over rebellion issues. You are an idiot. Maybe you feel like you are doing such a fantastic job with your toddler that you will have this open, loving relationship where your teen is your best friend. You are a real big idiot. Maybe you think I am lying or that my kids are just exceptionally awful and you will use all the tools from all the books you have read cover to cover and YOU will do it right. Idiot.
I know, you think me calling you an idiot is rather harsh and uncalled for. Get used to it. Because as soon as you have a teenager, you are an idiot. You just are. No matter how you go about parenting your teen, I mean how you THINK you will parent your teen, you will wind up being an idiot. And the rest of us who have survived The Teenage Years will welcome you to our club with open arms because that’s what idiots do.
It’s not all a hellish nightmare. There will be moments. Like the moment when you can see the floor in their room because they threw all of the clothes in the laundry. The moment when they help the little old lady across the street because she gave them a 20 dollar bill thinking it was a one dollar bill. That moment when they start a conversation with you which ends up with you handing over your car keys despite the fact that they were supposed to be in Time Out, I mean grounded…ahh those moments are fleeting so enjoy them fully. Time really does speed up once you have children.You will blink and they will be gone…with your credit card and your favorite shoes.
So stop whining that you have a baby or three or a toddler who acts ridiculous and cries really loudly in inappropriate places or a pre schooler who can’t keep his hands out of his pants at church. Enjoy it. Because in a few short years you will be a full blown idiot and all of that parenting crap you worked SO HARD on will be right out the window along with the Ipad that wasn’t downloading fast enough. Parenting is hard work. It is NOT fun, it is not about YOU. It is about raising a productive member of society…so good luck with that. And as hard as you think it is wiping a little tushie or having to leave Sesame Street Live because your kid won’t stop kicking everyone in a 6 foot radius, it gets worse. As much as you love your baby, your toddler, your school age child, you will love your teen more fiercely than at any stage prior. That overwhelming love you feel for them will be balanced with fear and anger and hope and expectation. It’s way messier than 2am feedings and stomach bugs and lice.
No one tells you these things because it’s futile. There is nothing you can do. Once you commit to being a parent, you can’t quit…ask me how I know. You cannot tender your resignation, you can’t walk into their room and in dramatic fashion recite a speech telling them you have found new, better teenagers to raise. You cannot force them to stay in the sweet spot between ages 7 and 10, they will not comply. You just have to do it.
When your sweet little one draws you a picture and gives it to you will all the love in the whole wide world beaming out of their eyes because you are their sun and moon, remember that and imprint it on your heart. Because some day, well, you’ll find out. I wish you patience, luck, wisdom and just enough denial to get you through…
Welcome to the club, Idiot. *eyeroll*