Tuesday, November 5, 2013

I Love Teenagers

Teenagers get a bad rap.

Yes, they are moody and smelly and occasionally inconsiderate. They cause a disproportionate amount of car accidents for a variety of reasons, not limited to the fact that they don't get that death is a real thing that could happen to them.

I have recently noticed a lot of vitriol on Facebook surrounding the 13-19 year old set, to the point where it actually hurts my heart. Comments from a (hopefully) non-parent after a post about a father and son having issues at a restaurant:
an ambulance would need to be called when I finished whupping him into a pretzel....
Um, really? For talking back to his dad? Seriously? With no knowledge of what happened leading up to the incident, this poster has decided that serious bodily harm is the way to go. I find that really disturbing.  And she wasn't the only one.  There was a lot of horribly misplaced anger throughout.  I hope they were all perfect growing up, or they probably got the shit kicked out of them for rolling their eyes.  

In another post, a mother screams about the "fucking teenagers" that speed down her street.  I mean, I get it.  She was upset about her young daughter running out of the house and into the street.  But, saying it that way makes it sound like a negative epithet.  It sounds really hateful.  

If I yelled about the speeding Jesus Freaks that live down the street from us, would it sound hateful?  Probably.  It would definitely reflect my prejudice.  It would also be true.  They are the ones I am constantly yelling at when they fly through the neighborhood.  And they have kids.  I can't wait until they can drive.  Grrr...  

Isn't it hard enough to be a teenager without everyone hating you?  I can't help but wonder if some of the anger these kids exhibit isn't a direct result of feeling it from other people.

I'm not saying that as a group, they are all wonderful and sweet and odor free.  They absolutely are not. Having three teen-aged boys has introduced me to world of smells that I had not encountered outside a public toilet/perfume counter.  The combination of feet, unwashed sheets and Axxe is an olfactory nightmare.  They have zits and terrible eating habits and their manners are...questionable.

They are also the same babies that I nursed and rocked and sang to and clapped for.  I still clap for them.  And I still cry over their hurts.    Their Twos were not so terrible and even when they were, they were so stinkin' cute.  

Yes, they are harder to love when they roll their eyes and stomp out of the room and say hurtful things.  Isn't that a part of being a good parent?  Reaching down and finding the love?  Reminding them that they are loved no matter what?  Like the terrible twos before, they are finding their way in the world.  They are learning new things and they are frustrated with what they are still trying understand.  They really don't know their place in the world, yet.  The difference is that no one is smiling over their tantrums now.  No one really thinks they are cute; yet they are the same vulnerable kids they have always been.

If you are a parent, realize that your sweet little ones won't always be that way.  Someday, that precious baby will look you in the eye and tell you she hates you and she'll mean it.  And it will hurt.  And you will still love her.  And hopefully, she will remember that.  You will battle, you will take away privileges, you will be deemed "totally unfair" and you will all learn lessons along the way.  

If you are not a parent, please remember that you were a little jerk sometimes too and yet, you are still alive and hopefully, not as much of a jerk today.

Home should be a soft place to land and if that means bearing the brunt of teen-aged angst and frustration, then so be it.  I dished it out and I can take it.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  If we all survive mostly unscathed, we have done our jobs well.

Just some (junk food) for thought.


  1. I admit I have trouble relating to teenagers as a group, partially since I was bullied in middle school/ high school, and now all groups of teens make me a little nervous! But individually, the teenagers I know are great people... and once you get to know them it can be sad that they are under so much stress, being pressured to grow up and make adult decisions, while meanwhile being treated like young children a lot of the time. As for the Facebook commenter, I really, really hope the person was just being very dramatic. No parent should think that injuring the child to the point of needing the paramedics is ever justified for anything a kid could say or do!!!

  2. Eh, groups are overrated. :) Thanks for commenting!