Sunday, June 27, 2010

Looming Puberty

Since the day I brought my first child home from the hospital I have dreaded the idea of parenting teenagers. Some people find this odd, after all I work with teenagers, I know how they work, I can handle them. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. The friends I have who work in the health care field are usually far more careful in the way they live their lives. They know first hand all of the ways in which simple things like driving a car, or jumping on a trampoline can lead to disaster.

That's the way I feel about parenting teenagers. Everyday I am confronted with the numerous ways in which a smart, loving and obedient pre-teen can turn into a surly, rebellious teenager who appears to have lost all common sense. This terrifies me. I have spent many a parent-teacher interview asking the parents of my best students "what did you do? How do I get a teenager like that?" Whatever the secret, I'm afraid my time is running out.

The signs that puberty is already haunting my household are unmistakable. In the fall there was the unmistakable stench of body odor and greasy hair. This was easily taken care of with a stick of deodarant and ensuring that the child in question showered more often. I forgot about it after that. This spring though,
puberty is back with a vengence.

The other day I came downstairs for breakfast. He was sitting at the table eating his cereal and clearly visible, because of his milk mustache, was the peach fuzz beginning to accumulate on his upper lip. That same day, my son, who has always been very eager to please all of the adults in his life, accused me of being a hypocrite. Not in so many words of course, but the message was clear, he is beginning to understand that I am not perfect! He immediately burst into tears after the accusation, whether out of frustration or because he feared I would be hurt I'm not sure. I hugged him, told him it would be okay and sent him on his way.

What is so unsettling about these signs of early puberty is the inconsistency. You never know if the person sitting at the dinner table is 11 wishing to be 8 again, or 11 going on 18. Is he going to sit on the floor and play cars with his younger brothers, or is he going to yell at them and tell them he hates them? In my house these days, you never know.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Life Lessons

Maggie at Mighty Girl has publisher her list of "20 Things I Wish I'd Known at 20". As I read her post this morning I was struck by the fact that there many things on this list that I still have not learned as I approach 40.

Take the first thing on the list "Consider the source." Throughout my teen and adult years I have spent far too much time worrrying about whether or not people like me. Time to accept that fact that just as I don't like everyone that I encounter in my daily life, not everyone will like me.

"When in Doubt, Shut Up" I think that I have this one mastered. I'm not afraid to listen without offering an opinion. I think that I need to work on expressing my opinions more and not worrying about who is judging me. (see previous paragraph)

"Don't complain" Again, I don't think that I complain overly, on the other hand, I could be more positive in my intereactions with my colleagues. Sometimes it can be difficult to avoid joining in the "venting" that seems to occur fairly frequently in my profession. Maybe I should work on this.

"Don't obsess" This is me. I worry about things that I cannot control, I worry about the future, I worry about my kids, I worry about the environment...I worry. I need to take Maggie's advice and use the energy to change the situation or stop wasting energy worrying.

"You look good" I wish I had known this when I was twenty. I did look good when I was twenty but I spent so many years of my adolescence and young adulthood worrying that I was not as pretty as other people that I don't ever remember thinking that I looked good.

"Keep it to yourself" or in the words of mothers everywhere, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. Too often my conversations with my friends and colleagues revolve around discussing the faults and foibles of others.

"Choose good company" This is something that I have been working on a lot lately. So many of my daily interactions with people are pre-determined- colleagues at work, students, other parents at my children's various activities. Not all of these interactions are positive, so I have determined to share my very valuable (to me) free time with the people who "make me better".

There are lots of other great pieces of advice in Maggie's article . Go ahead, take a look. What do you wish you had known at 20?

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