Tuesday, May 27, 2008

End of Teenage, High road Dead End

End of teenage for My boyfriend

As far as birthday milestones go, this does not rank all that high on the Richter scale of cataclysmic events.

He is only turning 20; it’s a year later at 21 that my son will truly have a blast.

Still, I cannot help but see his 20th year as the ending of an era — for me.

Because he is my youngest, I am no longer the mother of teenagers.

It takes five years to transform an infant into a walking, talking, potty-trained child ready for kindergarten.

It takes seven years to turn an adolescent into an adult.

But while child is a teen for seven years, for parents the teenage era can last longer.

I entered when my eldest turned 13.

We were cheering for the unbeatable Chicago Bulls and an unbeatable Clinton was running for president.

Two additional children later, I am finally leaving this era behind after 12 years.

Navigating this period is the minefield of parenting.

You proceed with caution because the simplest comment can blow up in your face.

I approached warily.

Teenagers are known to be moody, insecure, non-conforming conformists, argumentative and riddled with angst.

They have an excuse.

The teenage years bring braces, driving, acne, mascara and college applications.

Just about the time the teachers stopped sending home notes to tell me everything going on, that’s about the time my children decided they no longer wanted to tell me anything going on.

If elementary school is nonstop chatter, then the teenage years are silence.

These were the years of closed bedroom doors.

During those years, I grew stupid.

As my children began to learn more and more, I began to know less and less.

My only expertise was as a source of embarrassment.

I could never fail to say the wrong things to the wrong people at the wrong time.

End of Teenage for me:

Consider fashion: Their clothing was too tight, too loose or too low.

We disagreed over the way they looked, and we could disagree just by trading looks.

Being a teenager is almost more a mindset than a chronology.

Not all seven years pose challenges.

My daughter became a teen at age 11 when she was eager to date and move into her own apartment.

By age 16, she had stabilized again.

Biology, I recognize, sets us on a collision course.

As teenagers, my children’s hormones were raging higher — just about the time mine began to fall.

Now I’ve emerged from my 12-year tunnel, and I’m blinking in the sudden sunlight.

“How does it feel to be 20?” I ask my son.

“Kind of weird that I’m not a teenager,” he responds.

It’s weird for me as well.

My youngest once shared with me that goldfish have a memory span of three seconds, and in this case that would be an advantage.

The teenage years, like the flu, are something it’s best not to recall in every detail.

I’m forgetting the past and looking ahead.

My children appreciate that I know a thing or two about life.

I’m optimistic their twenties will usher in a relationship renaissance.

No more disagreements.

On this, I am claiming the last word.

Anything said after this will be considered a new argument.

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