Someone once said: “As I get older my parents seem to get wiser.”
I say: “Having kids makes me feel stupid for thinking my parents were stupid, trying to prevent me from doing stupid things.”
If you’re like me, the kind of person who hides behind optimism when the big bad wolf called reality sneaks around, then you would have a better understanding where I’m coming from. My little predicament of having to be the bad guy every once in a while.
If your default position in life would be to avoid negativity like Ebola, then you know how difficult it must be for me to adapt at raising teenagers. For teenagers are the weird-smelling creatures our once loving, adorable children turn into.
The problem I have, is that some of the crucial words for parenting teenagers include, “No”, “Over my dead body”, “That’s too late” and my favourite “I don’t care what other kids are allowed to do, you are living under my roof and therefore you shall abide by my rules.”
(Shit, I’m turning into my Dad.)
I love my Dad. It was a feeling that grew with time. Initially I thought he was spiteful, conniving, a secret agent with the sole purpose of destroying my social life.
I’m exaggerating. My kids still love me and we have not had any major issues. I’m just getting used to the idea of having to say things my kids don’t want to hear like “No.”
My precious has only recently entered into the abyss of puberty, so they still resemble what I remember my kids to be like. Most of their friends have morphed into small adults with deep voices and boobs. I have a firm understanding that in the not so distant future they will hate me, periodically. And that sucks. Like a vacuum cleaner. And the biggest culprit for that (hopefully) temporary hatred would be the poison in the life of teenagers worldwide aka A CURFEW. The time when parents decide that little hormone invested kids should come home. Our deadline for them having fun. Our killer of their social joy.
Those who have been keeping track of my blog would know that I technically only have one teenager in the house. Princess is only turning 13 this year. In my defence, if the definition of a teenager is someone who is moody, temperamental, loving, caring, and completely impossible to understand, then I have two of those in the house. And a son.
(The line between being a woman and being a teenager are somewhat blurred at times.)
My point is that we all understand the necessity of having rules. Humanity operates within the boundaries of rules. It protects us. It provides security and comfort. A sense of belonging. A clear line to what we should or should not do. As parents we pass that on to our kids. It’s like teaching them to use utensils to eat or flush after they’ve used the loo. And those are the easy things.
Eventually we allow our kids to explore the secrets of life, but stay behind with a compass and torch to search for them when they get lost. They need to swim in the oceans of human behaviour and social interaction, as we are the lifeguard waiting in the wings when they get tired and sink to the bottom. They have to govern the highways and byways of choices as we are the airbags protecting them, should their choices cause a huge pile-up somewhere.
It’s our job as parents. We can’t just feed and clothe them, we need to be their Jedi master, their Yoda, so that “To the dark side, they do not cross.”
It’s about teaching them boundaries, responsibility, sacrifice and consequences. Knowing that life also has heart-ache and disappointment, along with all the pleasantries. And that’s where our job becomes a shitty one.
For we didn’t understand the process when we were 15. We didn’t understand what our parents were trying to do. As a matter of fact I think we only appreciate those attempts when we ourselves end up with a kid who is 15. So they probably won’t understand it either. It shouldn’t deter us from doing the shitty things Dad’s have to do. And I’m not talking about taking out the trash or kill a spider, I’m referring to employing things like curfews and having to say “No” every now and then. Even if it breaks your heart.
It might prevent them from breaking something worse.