Ever wonder what it will be like when your little boys hit puberty? Think the teen years will be exciting, challenging, and fulfilling? Want someone who has “been there, done that” to tell you how it really is?
Well holy AXE spray, zit cream, and hairy legs, I. AM. THERE. I am treading water in the teen angst cesspool (also knows as their bedroom) and desperately gasping for sanity in male-adolescent-hormone-infested waters. Waters that run deep, wide, smart-mouthed, and scruffy-chinned. Where dirty boxer shorts, crumpled up and forgotten homework assignments, lost ear buds, sweaty socks, and junk food wrappers are forever afloat. These waters do not come with a lifeboat. (Honestly, I don’t need a lifeboat, I need a pressure washer and a bullhorn, but we will get to that in a sec.)
Don’t get me wrong: my teenagers are great kids. They do well in school, are witty, empathetic, amusing, and are actually growing into really cool adults. But there are minutes, days, sometimes weeks where I — in teen terms — like, TOTES. CAN’T. EVEN. wrap my mind around their behavior.
I wish someone had told me…..
1. Everything will smell. Their car. Their closet. Their bathroom. Their bedroom. The hallway that leads to their room. It will be a funky, sweaty, noxious, musty, foul, deodorant soap-covering-perspiration, “I am no longer a little boy” type of odor. No candle, plug-in, floral spray or wax melt comes close to touching it. So stop trying. When they move out, painting the room and replacing the carpet MAY help. I say MAY.
2. They will suddenly want to wash their own sheets. They will bounce down the stairs with all of their bedding wrapped up in a tiny ball, duck into the laundry room, and out of nowhere suddenly want to start the washing machine with no help. Don’t ask. Don’t help. Don’t acknowledge. Move on, mom. This doesn’t involve you. Just a boy and his dreams.
3. There is no frustration greater than teaching a teenager how to drive. I’m almost done teaching my second son how to drive. I’ve got chewed-up cuticles, severe hair loss, and a scrip for reducing heart palpitations to prove it. No matter how cautious, careful, and smart of a driver they appear to be, and even with mom riding shotgun, dents will happen. So will things like, “Does yellow happen before or after green?” and, “Is 65 the fastest I can go?” Shoot. Me. Now.
4. When not sleeping, they are eating. Ever wake up at 3 a.m. to what sounds like raccoons in your kitchen digging through the garbage for food? Folks at Costco finally give you a parking spot up front? Then you get it. I live in “Never Enough Burritos” land. Someone please invent a pepperoni pizza patch that I can slap on their arms and that will offer 24-hour continuous nourishment.
5. When not eating, they are sleeping. When I had a house full of babies that woke everyday before sunrise, never, ever, EVER did I think that I would ever sleep in again. But teens? They SLEEP THE HELL IN!! Like until NOON. Comatose almost. Not gonna lie, it’s freakin’ awesome. Awesome until they have to wake up at dawn, like, say, for school. Then you are totally screwed. Invest in a bullhorn and pray for Saturdays.
6. They will take risks. Big ones. Mind-numbing ones. Risks that your shy, overly cautious, hesitant little boy would never take. (Personally, I think the part of the brain that kept him wary and watchful is now controlled by images of boobies and butts, but who knows.) Basically, boy brains are fearless, reckless, and have zero sense of consequences. If you’ve ever uttered the words, “Not my kid,” take it back. Take it back right effing NOW. Trust me.
7. They think they know everything. Yes, that cliché is true, and they will actually say this to your face. I literally recorded mine saying it to me. Even he laughed. This brazen way of thinking must somehow be a survival mechanism. Perhaps if they had an authentic grasp of adulthood and what real life will throw at them someday, they wouldn’t even want to reach 18. Let’s just allow them to keep thinking they know everything. Why ruin the party?
8. They will not want to hug much anymore. Like ever. But keep trying. You will become the physical form of kryptonite, and when they see you with your arms outstretched, they may run away in horror. Keep trying anyway. Because out of the blue one day, they will toss their arm around your shoulder and give a squeeze, a grin, and say “I love you mom.” (It may only occur when your trunk is full of groceries but hey, take what you can get.) They may seem aloof and un-wanting of your affection, but don’t believe it. They want it. Hug when and if you can.
9. Showers. All day. Every day. Go ahead and buy the low-flow shower head on their 13th birthday, as it will save you about $500 a year. Kids you previously had to beg, bribe, and literally chase down and throw into the shower now spend a quarter of their entire day in there. And yet, still #1. Washing diligently? Probably not, but don’t be that mom who knocks and cracks an embarrassing joke. Just don’t.
10. You thought your newborn grew overnight? You won’t believe these spurts. The mere fact that these boys I now have to crane my neck and look UP to used to fit in the football hold under my arm is mind-boggling. But it happens. And it does so at warp speed. They will go to bed one night with the voice of a Vienna Choir boy and walk out the next morning Pavarotti. Pants that one day you have to roll up will be capris the next. We have skipped three whole shoe sizes at one time. Must have something to do with #4. In the blink of an eye you will go from holding the soft padded hands of a little boy to holding a hand that feels like your husband’s. And the one thing you really need to know? Watching your boys turn into men is pretty darn cool.