Today is Tuesday, August 22, 2017

If children are a gift from God, does that make teenagers a gag gift?

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Children, teenage boys in particular, are wonderful... most of the time.

Some days it's easy to marvel at my oldest child's maturity, wit and tolerance. I'm talking about those rare occasions when he responds to questions with more than one word, throws away the empty cereal box instead of putting it back on the shelf or plays a video game with his kid brother without complaining.

It's days like this I'm positive he will be a successful adult. When things are sailing along smoothly, it's hard not to glance in the mirror, wink and say, "You are rockin' this parent/teenager thing! What's everyone else complaining about? Losers."

Other days, like the time he asked which state Canada is in, I feel like we've failed him. I also make a note to bring this up to his geography teacher at the next conference.

Just like my teenager, I've had to learn things the hard way, too. Like the time I found a half-eaten and petrified block of Wisconsin cheddar under his bed. That reminded me to immediately investigate the source of an odor next time I'm upstairs and wonder out loud, "What smells?"

Trying to reason with a hormonal, know-it-all, teenage boy or thinking I can get him to talk to me by asking all the right questions is as productive as trying to put on a pair of skinny jeans immediately after showering.

It's time consuming, uncomfortable and in some instances can cause a pulled muscle or two.

Not long ago, we were getting ready to leave for school. It was 15 degrees so I told him to get his coat. He said, "No, I'm not going to be outside today. Gah!"

Then...HE. ROLLED. HIS. EYES. AT. ME. (For those that don't know, an eye roll from a teen is the equivalent to calling me fat.)

Before getting carried away and grounding him for the rest of the school year, his dad stepped in, pulled me aside and very calmly said, "Let it go. If he doesn't want to wear his jacket, this will be a great learning experience."

Is he insane?! If I let him learn the hard way, he could freeze to death, right? Or he'll be really uncomfortable for the walk from my car to the front door of the school.

In a few months, he'll get his driver's license. I know it's part of growing up and yada, yada, yada. But just thinking about this next milestone makes me feel more anxious than when I'm actually a passenger while he drives now.

He's growing up and there's nothing I can do to stop this process. In two years, he'll be getting ready for young adulthood. That's 24 months to prepare him for the world, to teach him how to balance a checkbook, 24 months to make sure he doesn't laugh hysterically every time someone says the word "balls" and 24 months to make sure he knows that no matter what, he can always come home.

In the meantime, I'll remember that those same big, blue eyes that roll at my suggestions for a coat were the same eyes that lit up when I picked him up from daycare not that long ago.

Since "children are a gift from God" (and any mention of a return policy is conveniently left out) we will make the best of the teenage years. Even if those years are filled with fart jokes and messy bedrooms.

Have words of encouragement for living through the teen years? Email

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