I remember it like it was yesterday. We were headed to Disney — no strollers and no diaper bag for the first time ever. We waltzed through the entrance with our “see ya, suckers” faces directed towards the parents already sweating at 9 a.m. because they’d been in bag check for 45 minutes. My children had graduated from the toddler years, and I smugly declared to my husband, “We have arrived!”
I didn’t know then what I know now. Much like the Force, there must be balance in parenting. You can have a win now, but the universe sets a plan in motion to humble you later. As the parent of teenagers, that later for me is now. I am essentially reliving the toddler years with larger, messier versions because teenagers, and their actions, are basically toddlers.
Sippy Cup Clutter Never Goes Away
The random sippy cups I used to find lying around the house (with the occasional week-old milk)? They’ve been replaced with 8,000 regular cups. I’ve purged my cabinets three times, but cups I thought were long gone keep appearing on dressers, counters, floors… it’s wizardry. If they can’t find normal cups to drink out of, no worries. They aren’t picky. Coffee mugs, whiskey glasses, even my stemless martini glasses get used and left around half empty to taunt me.
They are Creatures of Mass Destruction
When my kids were toddlers, I followed them around with wipes cleaning up sticky hands in the hopes of eliminating fingerprints on every surface of my home. Today, I still find those same fingerprints on the refrigerator and the pantry. Wash your hands after eating Cheetos? But the bright orange dust adds such a nice design element to the kitchen cabinets! Why use a napkin when the clothes you bought work just as well?
They Interrupt… All the Time
Teenagers are self-absorbed, singular-focused creatures. Whatever is happening in their world at that moment is the most important thing that has happened to anyone. Ever. My teenagers will spend 85% of their time locked away in their room brooding or plotting or whatever it is they do in their hormone-riddled heads until I’m in the bathroom, watching television, or trying to have an adult conversation. Then, suddenly, the fact that they have a paper due in school tomorrow or concern that their toenail hurts must be declared and declared immediately. If my husband and I shut our bedroom door, forget about it. It’s not a matter of if the knock will come but when. Sound familiar, moms with toddlers?
The Mood Swings are Epic
I tell my kids good morning every day, and then stand back and wait for a response. The options range from a pleasant, “Good morning, Mom,” to an off-the-charts crazy, “Why are you so mean, and where did you hide my socks?” This used to bother me until I turned the crazy into a fun game. If I get an off-the-rails response to the most basic of statements or questions, I’ll wait for them to get to the top of the stairs before calling them back downstairs for the sole purpose of hearing the satisfying sounds of sighs and stomping. Don’t be fooled, kids. You may have cornered the market on mood swings, but I’m still driving this crazy train.
Their Tastebuds are Stupid
“Why can’t you remember I don’t like ground beef?”
“Because you downed four tacos yesterday!”
There’s really nothing more to say here except their tastes change like those of a picky toddler. The difference now is I don’t feel the need to ensure they get fed. If you don’t like it, boys and girls, you know your way around a kitchen.
Some days, I think there’s no way my kids will survive as adults because these actions are not those of functioning members of society. Then, I tell a story to my mother who simply replies with an “Uh-huh,” which is mom-speak for “Now you know how I felt when I found 15 Little Debbie wrappers under your bed.” I turned out okay, and she only had to wait for me to have teenagers of my own to restore her parenting balance. There is hope. If I don’t die under a pile of half-filled cups, I, too, will get to respond with an “Uh-huh” years from now when my kids call to complain about their own teens, and it will be glorious.