The internet is full of parenting advice or the ironic posts about needing gin at 4 o’clock and although I chuckle I do think, “you wait…..if you think parenting babies and small children is tricky wait until they become teens!” Don’t get me wrong, babies and toddlers are physically exhausting and I couldn’t wait until 7pm when they were tucked up in bed and I could be an adult again. The thing is, and I’m sure other parents feel like me, that I miss that stage…..
I miss the rosy beams at 6am (yes, really!) when they see you first thing in the morning. I miss the snuggles when you read a bedtime story together with Upsey Daisy and Iggle Piggle. I miss the cheeky grin when they have hidden your keys. I miss the pure joy of their giggle when you flap the newspaper and play Peek-a-boo. I even miss having to do that jigsaw for the tenth time that day. It was so predictable but safe almost. The routine was monotonous at times but also comforting. I suppose it’s like any stage of being a parent; it comes to an end and before you know it you’re into the next stage and you never even realised.
Let me tell you a little about the stage I’m in now with my children…..
- Being a taxi.
I’m always in the car. We make sure that our kids have hobbies when they are younger don’t we? Tennis, Scouts, football, ballet. Children these days are encouraged to try everything; it’s a very middle-class thing. We encourage them, rightly so, to try lots of different things. The difficulty is that now they are teens the hobbies become quite annoying. I have renamed myself “Taximum” and I’m sure many other parents can relate. My son is a keen hockey player and although I am naturally proud of him, the better he gets the further we end up driving him. Hours in the car to wait for a few hours and then to drive home again. And then there is my older teen who goes “out”. The problem is she wants to be picked up again and there is never a bus after 9pm in the country. Until she learns to drive that means waiting outside places in the middle of the night and when she gets into the car she doesn’t want you to talk to her even though you’ve driven to collect her at midnight. So much for that gin at 4 o’clock.
When we had toddlers and small children we had an area downstairs for all their toys. I remember at the end of the evening we would clear the children’s things away so that we could enjoy a quiet, adult conversation without being surrounded by toys that could be trodden or sat on. Well, teenagers stuff is a little different. Basically, there is no area for teenage stuff. It is everywhere. Pants, socks, earrings, various text books, make up, wet towels. We have tried to train our children to put their stuff in their room but they always seem to have an answer for why their school shirt is down the back of the sofa or there’s a makeup stain on the carpet. Stuff also equates to plates, cups and other kitchenware. Mugs are a favourite in the old house….they find themselves lost for months, only to be found under a bed.
- Do NOT talk to them before school
My time in the car is a lonely one; even though I am not alone. Teens just don’t want a conversation in the mornings. “Do NOT speak to me!” They are not programmed to do anything before 10am so a lovely conversation in the car on the way to school is a no-no. I remember when they were younger and all the amazing questions they would ask and you think you have a genius child -“Why is the sky blue Mummy?” “Who invented the car Mummy?” I now know that was a stage and every child asks these types of questions because when they are teenagers they lose the ability to speak whilst on any type of journey.
- You are old
I’m afraid this one is obvious. You, as their parent are old and therefore, know nothing. I remember the admiration when my children thought I knew everything. Now the looks are quite different when they realise I actually know nothing. I am especially old when I have lost the one hockey socks later to be found in my son’s bag. There is nothing to debate here I’m afraid!
“Will there be Wifi?” This is common teenage phrase in the old house. As long as there is Wifi they will come with us to a friends, the shops, the hotel…… My advice is do not book a holiday in a hotel without Wifi when you have teenagers. Remember that flight that sounded like a good idea with your 20 month old because you didn’t have to pay for their seat? Well it’s like that…..just don’t bother really. I’ve tried to be the parent that asks for all phones to be downstairs at bedtime but that never works. I remember once when my daughter had an iPad when she was about 12. I changed the settings so that she couldn’t go on the internet without adult supervision. I was quite pleased with my technological prowess. But what did she do? She just downloaded the google app….I didn’t even know this was possible! That’s because I am old apparently.
- The joy, laughter and fun times
The above is true but, of course with these things comes seriously funny moments and fun times that I absolutely cherish. I wouldn’t change anything about my teens as they are actually great fun to be around.
I love the fact that we can all lie in bed on a Sunday and then go to have brunch together. I love the cinema trips when we can watch films other than Disney sing-a-longs. I love the debates about Trump or the state of One Direction. I love the things they find to share with me on YouTube.
I even like the Sex Ed chats…..my one advice here though is have Sex Ed chats in the car, preferably first thing in the morning……In this way they can’t escape. Oh and they also tend not to join in with the conversation!
I know that this stage in my parenting life will come to an end soon and I will miss it terribly so my advice to you all is, enjoy every stage. It passes by in a blink of an eye. Whilst my daughter talks about university courses I look at her and can see her beaming face as a baby looking back at me.
Perhaps that’s why our mums look at us in the same way.
OH THE JOYS OF LIVING IN THE OLD HOUSE IN THE SHIRES.