Fretting over the teen years makes the terrible twos seem like nothing

The Conscious Mother

July 01, 2011|By Michelle Potocko

I have a teenager. If you have your own teen, or have been where I am now, you understand.

If you have a young child, just wait. It's another magical parenting experience that I would not, honestly, trade for anything.

Well, perhaps I would trade it for a good night's sleep or eternal youth, or a wrinkle-free face, or my sanity.

Having a teenager has made me completely insane. I'm more bonkers than I was already. The most recent verbal sparring took place in my car while I was driving Alex to a doctor appointment.

Behind the wheel, I was a captive audience. I should have been driving myself to a mental facility.

I would have been smart to stick my earbud into my ear and feign a conference call to eliminate the snappy repartee that ensued.

Alex has a friend coming to visit. Alex asked if his friend could spend the night on a weekday night that didn't work for my husband, John, and me. We countered with an alternate evening. I thought the situation was resolved.

Turns out, Alex wants the friend to stay for two nights, which is fine. He then told me that the friend is getting dropped off at noon on a weekday when neither John nor I were going to be at home.

Alex also told me they would go "wherever they wanted to go." What does that mean? Aren't John and I the responsible adults in this scenario? Is it me? Let me know because I know I tend to err on the side of being over-protective and, well, responsible.

So the conversation started to feel like a toboggan ride down an ice-covered hill at speeds that cause me to want to take a Dramamine and close my eyes. Only, I was driving and it would have been a challenge to stay on the road with my eyes closed. Alex told me that his father would not care and my problem is that I care. I thanked him for the compliment. Not intended as one, however.

We arrived at the doctor's office and as I signed Alex in, I told them that Alex was 15 years old. Could I just leave him? They told me I couldn't leave him until he turned 18. I told them that I wanted to leave him now and pick him up when he turned 18. They told me that they all had been there and that it gets better.

Not trying to sound overly excited and hoping their answer would be "in 10 minutes," I asked them when it gets better. I was told teenagers return to "normal" after the first semester of college.

Waiting in the patient room for the doctor took an eternity. I am not even exaggerating. An entire eternity passed and it was filled with my son telling me that if his father agrees to the friend coming during the weekday then Alex wins the bet and the boys get to do whatever they want, wherever they want, while we are not home.

Is summer break over yet? Quick, turn on the TV. Is football on?

Alex then told me that if something happened to him or his friend, while they were out, he would call 911. This comment did not elicit the response he was hoping for. Why would he need to call 911 in the first place?

The conversation continued for so long that it felt like time was standing still. If the space-time continuum is real, I wondered what else I was doing at that moment.

After a hearty dinner that evening, Alex decided that compromising was the best way to go. His friend is getting dropped off in the late afternoon and he gets to stay for two days.

Oh, Lord, is it really only the beginning of summer break? I asked Alex if he was getting a summer job. I told him that I'm going to start charging him a banter fee. I can already tell that he's going to need a lot of extra cash this summer.

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