It’s been a really long time since my three babies have been babies. I have to admit I do miss their baby smell, their crinkly little faces, and their ever-so-tiny toes.
Teenagers, on the other hand, get a bit of a bum rap. Many times they are moody, messy, and smell a little like musty socks. But they are also fun and funny and really terrific.
Here are 10 reasons I am grateful to be the parent of teenagers:
1. No Worries About Waking Up the Sleeping Baby
I am not quite sure how the phrase “sleeping like a baby” gained popularity. After all, everyone knows most babies do not sleep very well—at least not at night. Now, teens are a different story. Nothing wakes a sleeping teenager, not doorbells, phone calls, or even shouting their names at the top of your lungs.
2. They Keep You Current, but Not Too Current
There is a great line in the movie Mean Girls when “cool mom” Amy Poehler asks her daughters’ friends for the “411” on gossip, music and everything trendy. While I would not recommend her approach, teens do offer their parents a peek at what’s cool and hip. When Gavin Degraw opened for Billy Joel, I was the only person in our party who knew the songs he sang and that he was not married to Gwen Stefani.
3. They Can Sit Through an Appetizer, Main Course and Dessert Course
Years ago, I went to dinner with my then 8-month-old and a friend who had no children. She asked so many questions about the menu that by the time the first course arrived, I was standing in the parking lot with my wailing infant. Gone are the days that I have to gulp down my food while standing and rocking (or nursing.)
4. They Don’t Watch Elmo, Big Bird or Cookie Monster
Oh Elmo, you saved me many early mornings when my kids would wake up at the crack of dawn and the coffee wasn’t brewed yet. While I have fond memories of seeing Dora the Explorer and Barney live, I cannot say I miss watching these shows or listening to The Wiggles classic, “Fruit Salad,” over and over again.
5. They Don’t Catch Every Cold, Flu and Stomach Virus
When my kids were in preschool, they were germ magnets. If something was going around, it was coming to my house. I saw more of my pediatrician those years than my husband. Runny noses, ear infections and croup that always hit in the middle of the night—these are a few of my not so favorite things.
6. They Always Give an Honest Opinion
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, are these pants giving me camel-toe?” You don’t need a talking mirror when you have a teen. While sales people may lie to you, teens have no problem telling you what you are wearing is unflattering, uncool or just plain ugly. Plus, a compliment from a teen means your sweater really does look good, and it will probably be missing in a few days.
7. They Offer In-Home Tech Support With No Service Fee
They can fix the computer, download apps, and educate you on the proper usage of emojis. Even my preteen son knows how to reboot my laptop and can make sure that I have a not-so-embarrassing playlist on my iPod. He even introduced me to Trivia Crack and 2048, so now I have something to do on the carpool line.
8. They Can Drive
The first few times my daughter drove the car alone, it was so scary. I would hold my breath until she texted (after parking and turning off the car) that she had arrived at her destination. But as the months passed and she gained more experience as a driver, it was nice not to have to chauffeur her, especially on freezing cold nights.
9. They Can Get Things Off the High Shelf
It is weird at first when you have to look up to speak to your child. When my daughter surpassed me in height, I wore wedged boots most of the time because I hated feeling so small. But having someone tall in the house does make putting the dishes away a lot easier.
10. They Make You Put Your Thinking Cap On
From current events to sports knowledge, my teens keep me on my toes. Helping my son with his homework reminds me of facts and history that have been dormant in my brain for many years. Listening to my kids form opinions on politics and world events is fascinating and has made me rethink some of my own views.
While spending time with little kids is great, there are many things you can share with your kids once they are older and more mature. I love going with my teens to see Broadway shows and movies like The Hunger Games and The Fault in Our Stars. I am still their parent, but in the words of Rick from Casablanca, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship” as well.