The Longest Four Years of Your Life

I came to an important conclusion today...raising teenagers is hard.  Hard, I said.  I spent hours this morning working for my two teens (who will never say thank you-teenagers are the worst bosses ever).  Demanding and never satisfied is the definition of 'teen'. I organized school records, emailed next year's teachers, emailed this year's teachers, emailed old guidance counselors, and emailed new guidance counselors.  All to get them ready to re-enter their US schools in September.

In my old life, I was a guidance counselor (someday I hope to be a guidance counselor again).  I was a guidance counselor for fifteen years before I had teenagers and I have spent the last year or two reconsidering everything I, the mother of no teens, might have said to those parents.  In my head, I have been thinking about what I would say to them now- those parents handing over their kids to the high school...I think this might be it.

I'm sorry.  I had no idea. 

But I do now and yes, I'm sure you have tried.  Teenagers can sleep through alarms. No, they don't go to bed when you tell them.  Yes, they will lie to you.  Sneaky little lies. Big bold faced lies. It's not unheard of for them to request chicken on Wednesday, announce they are a vegetarian on Thursday, and want their favorite pork fried rice on Friday.  Yes, they do some incredibly dumb things.  Things that make you want to pack a bag and find a studio apartment for one. They do scary things.  They do obnoxious things.  They will send 11,000 texts in the same month but won't answer yours.  I know, I know, they are addicted to their electronics. The car and the refrigerator  will always be on 'Empty'.  You will occasionally find strange kids in your house.  Some may be truly strange and some will just be unfamiliar to you.  They will leave hoses running, taps dripping, and waste more water than a village in Africa sees in a week taking one shower. They cannot remember to take out the trash, empty the compost bin, or unload the dishwasher but if you forget to buy milk, you are THE WORST MOTHER EVER.  The kid who never stops talking? Exhausting.  Deadlines are for other people.  College applications? Buckle your seat belt. It's going to be a bumpy ride. 

But then they do some amazing things.  Sleep in a box all night to raise money for the homeless? They're in.  Write a letter to the lonely older man in a nursing home? The same kid that was late for school five days in row did that.  That strange kid? He might not have had somewhere to sleep that night. The kid addicted to all those electronics might help you find that book draft /report/excel spread sheet that you were sure you lost.  That kid who never stops talking is pretty funny on the school PA system. The kid that volunteered to play basketball with the student in the wheel chair and loved it?  The homeroom full of kids that gave up lunch money to buy a present for a homeless child at Christmas?  The kids who heard about the tsunami, hurricane, flood, or drought, and decided to sell Valentines, hold a dance, organize a clothes drive, solicit book donations, or wash cars and then donate the funds?   These are our kids.  

It might not seem like it some days but what you're doing is working.  So keep saying, 'No'.  Keep reminding them to say please and thank you.  Keep nagging them! Harp on them! Don't give in and don't give up. And most especially, don't believe them when they say they don't have homework.  

Oh, and that party you will hold when they graduate? I get it now, it's really for you. Invite all your friends. It's gonna be epic.  You deserve it.


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