To Adolescence and Beyond!

Hi All!

Last week my daughter, Megan, told me that some of her parents, she is a teacher in Ohio, and teaches eighth grade, actually read my blog and had asked for thoughts about parenting kids in junior high...aka the "crazy" years!

I laughed because she told me that I could use her as an example, and share what her Dad and I went through with her during middle school, and really until she was about 16-17. It seemed to be done by then. I can tell you in all honesty and with a straight face, that she was HORRIBLE! O.k. she is lovely and sweet and cute and intelligent and actually great,...but not then. Well, I suppose she was great then too, because I do love her and did love her during all of that time, but I did not like being around her that much then. She often gave me a stomachache. I never knew who she was going to be or what was going to happen and what was going to come out of her mouth.

I bet there are lots of parents who have young adolescents who feel the same way. You take this cute lovely baby home from the hospital and no one tells you that in all too short of a time you may want to bring him/her back and ask for a refund. I guess they don't give refunds do they? You have to take what you get and make the most out of it!

Here is my story. When Megan was little she was so easy! She slept for 7 hours her first night home from the hospital. I of course did not get any sleep cause I kept checking to make sure she was not dead! I mean, come on...what baby sleeps for 7 hours their first night home? I know that my husband slept well too. He was more sane and actually thought "Wow" how great that this baby sleeps. She was an anomaly because her older sister, 2 at the time that Megan was born, actually had not slept much at all when she was first home... maybe an hour at a time. I think my husband thought that this time we had struck some sort of jackpot because this baby girl was a sleeper!! YAHOO!!!

Actually Megan was easy! She did not do all the things that "terrible two's do". Her older sister did all that. Megan was easy going, and happy, and a good sleeper and agreeable. Everyone commented on how sweet she was and what a lovely affable child she was. This pretty much continued throughout her childhood years. I was blindsided! I thought that this was her personality, and what a great gift I had gotten as a parent!

My happy thoughts changed fast! As Megan was approaching 10-11, I began to see a change. Actually her brother probably spotted it first. Bill is 5 years younger than Megan... and was beginning to get all the fall out that comes from having a sister that much older than you, who suddenly turns on you! He did have the wisdom to take the time to write a "To Do" note to himself one night, and leave it on the island in our kitchen. His note said quote" note to self...kill Megan in her sleep tonight.." of course he did not spell as proficiently as I just did, but that was the content of the note. He, I think was the first one of the family to really begin to feel the wrath of 11 year old Megan! She did all sorts of stuff to him. I remember we used to call Megan the silent terrorist. She was good at wreaking havoc on her brother...sometimes her sister too, but mostly her brother.

When all this behavior began, I was at a loss. How could this all be coming from my lovely little girl? O.K., she was getting bigger, and entering that danger zone...preteen...but I thought surely my lovely Megan would continue being the sweet person she had always been.

HELLO! What was I thinking??? I guess that is the point. When your child enters this phase of life it is like an alien life force has swooped down and inhabited your child without you knowing. Kind of like one of those movies with Sigourney Weaver when she is fighting off the alien trying to take over her body.

When kids enter this time of life, it takes them and you by surprise. The person you knew, or thought you knew, is still there, but the problem is they are trying to get out and figure out life on all new terms. All of a sudden a lot has snuck up on your kids! Hormones, zits, boys, girls, group dating, school dances, WHOA!! Your child is thrown into a whole new program, and they do not have a clue how to navigate it or begin to write their own code. Remember how hard it was for you? Yikes, I remember not having a clue...and truly being a big nerd, when all I wanted was to be one of the "cool" kids. But, then the "cool kids" have all sorts of problems too. They have to figure out how to stay in the cool group and not be excommunicated for fear of nerdness. Would you want to go back to that phase of life? I know that I wouldn't! Boy, that time was hard, and I have to imagine even in the age of all that has changed and progressed now, it can't be any easier.

I use to see Meg's bus coming down the street and begin to feel physically ill. Really, I did. I am not making this up! I would see her bus approaching our house and think "OH, she comes!" I never knew what to expect. Would she be happy, would she be surly, would she talk, would she say nothing? It was like living in never never land. I never knew who was going to get off that bus. Well, actually I did, I just didn't know what form she would be in!

I know that I tried a lot of different things. I tried being happy, I tried being quiet, I tried being helpful. Sometimes one of these tactics would work, but just as often as not, they didn't. I would spend lots of time trying to figure out why, but the answer really is, there is no answer. When kids are going through this trying period of life, the only thing that will really help is time. The time it takes for each child to find their own way through this period. I think after all the things Megan and I went through, I even pretended to call the Department of Children and Family Services one night because I was out of ideas on how to make her comply with me ( actually I was calling the weather hotline) that the best thing to do is just be there. Be there to let you kids know you love them. You love them enough to continue to set guidelines and hold them accountable for their behavior. You love them enough to not care if they get mad at you and call you a bad mother. You love them enough not to try and be their friend, they have lots of those. You love them enough to be their parent. A calm force through this time of storm (even if YOU don't feel calm).

So, hang in there with your crazy adolescents. They can't help it. They are suppose to be doing all that they are doing right now, so that they can get through this time and find their way well into adulthood.

Just think, if kids don't act out at some phase, they may have to do it when they are 30, and THAT is not a good idea! So,
be calm, be present, be consistent and be there.

What is that old saying???? Oh yeah, this too shall pass!

Until next time,


p.s. Megan and I now have a fabulous relationship! :)