Once I imagined that I had an outside chance of being a cool mum who would get my teenagers. What they wear, what they eat, what they get up to on social media; I was all over it. I could be the exception to the rule. To be honest, I believe that my husband harboured the same ambitions. He would be the cool dad. I would be the cool mum. We would be the cool parents. Fact is; we’re not cool. In fact, we’re pretty average parents who don’t get it. Not even remotely. Heck, I think that granny is probably cooler than me in the eyes of my kids. Painful truth.
The watershed happens at around the age of 11/12. You still get ‘I love you mummy’ and great cuddles but there is also the odd eye roll and ‘no need to walk me to the classroom mum‘ thrown in. Take this as a warning shot across your bows.
Later comes the request to buy clothing for your child that you just don’t get (yes, and you who are SO trendy should be able to get it, right?). The clothing thing is a big one. Forget lovely mother/daughter shopping trips. My daughter asks me if she looks okay and I try hard to disguise confusion, wracking my brain for something positive to say. On another occasion, she might throw me a lifeline. ‘Hi mum, you look nice. I like that shirt.’ My totally over the top reaction? ‘Thanks! Have the shirt! Take it! It will look really good on you.’ (Sense my total relief at the fact that we’ve finally found some common ground – let’s throw a party!) Her response, ‘mum, just because I said I liked it, doesn’t mean that I WANT it, I was just being nice‘. And so the communication break down continues. Three quarter flare jeans. Just don’t get it. Totally see-through mesh tops? Not there yet. And don’t even get me started on the piercings and the tattoos – it’s still no, no, no, NO!
Secondly, I thought I might enjoy ALWAYS being right about everything but boy, it’s exhausting. You still find yourself saying; ‘you will need a jumper, run upstairs and get one.’ (because you are too old to carry one for them). And the response invariably is; ‘No I won’t need a sweater, I’ll be fine, stop fussing mum’. Then whatdoyaknow but one hour later and they are freezing and grumpy because they don’t have a jumper. Or the other one is, they are wearing a sweater but nothing whatsoever underneath and are too hot. And who has to pay the price for these small problems? Yours truly.
Teenagers often need to check that you approve of their plans and movements (which change constantly by the way), but they have no intention of altering anything and ideally would rather not hear any constructive advice. Hence, rows blow up out of nowhere.
However, it’s not all bad. There are some truly golden moments. On a good day, you might be unexpectedly hit by a wave of pride in your offspring. They might suddenly offer to cook (okay, this is stretching things a bit) or be polite to one of your friends, give you a kiss or a hug, say thank you or simply smile a lot. Snatches of quality family time are precious, for instance over mealtimes when the whole family is laughing at the same joke. You can occasionally have adult conversations or debates that are fun (not a war zone). I wouldn’t swap my teenagers for the earth, but I have to admit, they do take a little getting used to.
11 common behaviour traits of teenagers.
- Teenagers like to be online. They melt down irrationally at the slightest sign of a wifi or power outage (happens a lot in Nairobi). With no TV series to watch, youtubers to stream, no snapchat to converse with friends through it’s, like, a total disaster. Hang on a minute, they might just have to speak to their parents.
- They like to slob around at home wearing pyjamas all day then, just as your evening is over, (i.e. you’ve had supper, watched TV and are heading to bed) they announce that they’d like to to go out on the town, meet friends and would you mind picking them up at 2am? You never saw it coming.
- You’ll find yourself housebound. There’s always homework/studying to do, but this suddenly becomes 200 times more pressing when you happen to suggest that the family leave the house for an hour.
- You are the enemy. Even without saying anything. You, as the parent, are the one who doesn’t approve of friends, boyfriends, clothing, career choices, interests, and above all, you judge. Worse, you alone are standing in the way of nights out, parties, holidays, piercings and tattoos. Steel yourself for sudden outbursts of temper that come from a place that you don’t understand.
- Teenagers can be highly critical of you. Suck it up. But woe betide you if you criticise them or any of their friends. They’ll take it VERY personally.
- They go to bed after you and, even when safely tucked in their bed, who knows what time they actually go to sleep? It’s generally guesswork based on how grumpy they are the following day.
- Forget making suggestions. There’s a book or movie that you really want them to read/see, but they won’t even countenance the idea (however, they’ll get back to you 6-12 months later to tell you how much they loved it, without remembering that it was initially your recommendation).
- Their plans change from minute-to-minute. Best to roll with it, keep up or put your foot down. Whichever way, it can be confusing.
- Your teenagers can be very immature. Expect bouts of uncontrollable giggling and silliness when you are least in the mood.
- Teenagers can be forgetful. The last thing you want to be is a total nag, constantly reminding them to do things, but you find yourself becoming this terrible nag anyway. #parentingteenssucks.
- Expect to learn a new language. Mainly comprising of abbreviations, acronyms etc. LMAO, Amaze, CBA, Snapchat stream, stories, that pic, it doesn’t fit with my Instagram aesthetic Mum….
I definitely need to pick up some books on parenting teenagers but in the meantime, I’ve accepted it, I’m never going to be cool. I’m just the mum.
Related post: The Boarding School Teenager
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