With each of my pregnancies, I was terribly sick. It wasn’t uncommon for me to pull over and throw up on the side of the road or to leave a classroom full of seventh graders unattended while I vomited in the teacher’s lounge. One day at school when I was looking particularly green and pasty, another teacher, who was also a seasoned mother, offered me this little nugget of wisdom: “You think you’re sick now? Just wait until she’s a teenager.”
Shockingly, not only did her words of encouragement not alleviate my nausea, they also did not prove to be true. At present, I have three teenagers and one tween living in my house. This means that there is often loud music blaring down the hall. We don’t have enough furniture in our living room for the whole family to watch a movie together comfortably. I spend a lot of Saturday nights waiting up late for everyone to get home, and my grocery bill is astronomical. But aside from these minor inconveniences, having teenagers has actually been great.
Not only are they rarely nauseating, there are even some unexpected perks to having teenagers that I have come to enjoy:
1. I have live-in tech support. It took me over a year to learn how to use the television remote. How did I finally crack the code? A five-minute tutorial from my daughter. I’ve also become an advanced emoji user. Why say it with words when there are a zillion different facial expressions right at my fingertips? The kids can also troubleshoot problems with my computer, show me shortcuts on my iPad and change the time on the clock in my car. It is indeed a brave and wonderful new world.
2. I have a designated driver. Now that my kids are big, not only can I go out to dinner and sit through an entire meal without having to take anyone to the bathroom or play tic-tac-toe on a napkin, I can also have a second margarita. Sweet!
3. I have a staff. It’s great that my kids can drive me home from a restaurant. It’s even better that the older ones can drive their little brother to baseball or pick up their sister from a sleepover. They can also run to the grocery store, mail packages and drop off the dry cleaning. All of this affords me more time to cook the massive amounts of food necessary to sustain a household of adult-sized appetites. But hey, I’ll take that tradeoff.
4. I always have someone to watch Netflix with. Two of my teenagers are girls. This means I always have someone to watch Meg Ryan movies with me. My husband appreciates this perk as much as I do. I have an excuse to read John Green novels. Not that I really need an excuse, but I tell myself that I’m reading them in order to foster literary discussion and engage my kids in meaningful conversations about some of life’s most challenging issues. That sounds legit. Right?
5. I’ve got my own fashion police. What blunders in style and faux pas in fashion might I commit if I did not have the benefit of my own fashion police? Judging by the number of “warnings” I’ve been issued, I’m guessing plenty. Fortunately, there is usually someone around to save me from committing any major violations.
6. I have a houseful of friends. I know, I know. You can’t be friends with your children. Really? Says who? I’m not saying that I’m sitting around gossiping over strawberry wine coolers with my kids. I am first and foremost their parent. I’m not trying to be “the cool mom.” But here’s the thing: My kids, although certainly not perfect, all have great senses of humor. They are clever and interesting and kind. How could I not be friends with them? As long as they still follow my rules and I don’t try to act like Regina George’s mom in Mean Girls, it’s all good.
I haven’t seen that woman from the teachers’ lounge in a long time. She retired years ago. If I do run into her, I will be happy to report that not only do my kids not make me sick, but also, most days, having teenagers is actually a pretty great gig.