Preparing for Adolesence

Preparing for Adolesence January 12, 2009

Can you?  I remember that you really can’t when you’re 13, but I’m talking here about the parent side of things.

So far I’ve been crossing my fingers and kind of watching helplessly as it all unfolds around me, but I realized the other day that I keep waiting for some terrible other shoe to drop.

Of course I recognize that much of that perspective comes from the memory of the avocado green copies of Preparing for Adolescence and its accompanying workbook that my mother solemnly handed to me on my 13th birthday (please be sure to note I am not recommending or endorsing this resource–still recovering myself).  My mom seemed so sad-it was almost like I had contracted a horrible disease, which might not be contagious but at the very least was deeply distasteful to all around me.

So I was just realizing with surprise that we are almost three years into adolescence around here . . . and it’s actually okay. In fact, most days it’s going pretty well. You know, there’s the normal amount of eye rolling and deep, despairing sighs, but . . . well . . . I like my adolescents. I really like them like this. All of the sudden they can carry on spirited conversations; they have their own opinions (though often flawed). Each one has interests and gifts, tendencies and interesting quirks. I can see, more and more these days, little glimpses of who they will become as adults.  And, I think I might like them, too.

These thoughts coalesced a little today when my 11-going-on-25 year old daughter brought up a friend who mentioned off-hand that it had been since her 18-year-old daughter turned 11 that she had said more than one word even vaguely directed in the general vicinity of her mother. My Hannah said she thought that was really weird-why would you not talk to your mom for SEVEN WHOLE YEARS?

I patiently explained: (with the not insignificant credibility of experience backing me up) sometimes when you enter this stage we call adolescence, you think your parents are, well, lame. You know, dorks.

Hannah responded with confusion: “Yeah, and . . . ?”

Well, I continued, if you think your parent is a dork, you might not talk to them.

“Oh, I DEFINITELY think you’re a dork,” she countered. “I mean, when we go to the mall and you start dancing to the music while we’re walking? That’s SO EMBARRASSING. I always hope none of my friends are there, and I walk really far ahead of you.  And sometimes you wear the weirdest things, I mean, I try to tell you when you look like a dork but I don’t always get to you in time before you leave in the morning, and I always hope on those days that you’re not picking me up from school . . . . . . . . . . . . buuuuuuut . . . just because you’re definitely, like, dorky doesn’t mean I wouldn’t talk to you!”

Awwww, sweet girl.

Long Pause. 

“Of course, I can’t keep quiet for very long no matter who I’m around . . . so maybe I’ll just talk to anyone.”

Nope, I’m pretty sure there’s no way to prepare.

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