Everyone tells you how your world will change when you have a baby. How tough it is, the sleepless nights, the constant companion and the joys that it brings. For some reason, no one heralds the oncoming teenage years the same way. Your adorable and adoring child will look on you with distain for no reason from time to time. Forcing conversation at the dinner table will be considered a form of child abuse. Yet five minutes later, a chatty conversation will commence in the kitchen, as if the last surly hour never even happened. Teen years are a random rollercoaster for the parents. There seems no correlation to what you do or say, and the reaction it will receive.
A friend, who had never once complained about her kids, posted to FB "Sometimes it's very hard being a mother of a teenage boy". No further explanation, just a small cry of frustration. A neighbour, when I was rocking a pram at the front gate said the wise words in reference to her then 16 year old "You just have to keep communication open. You don't understand that now, but at times it's much harder than you think."
A mere "Did you get any homework?" can be met with a glare and an eye roll "Why do you ask so many intrusive questions?" or they can walk in the door and come to tell you the news of the day unprompted.
It's all normal. The upside, is parents of teens don't pretend to know the answers. They don't pretend their child is perfect, nor that their parenting is perfect. There is a refreshing honesty that it's tough, but that they're doing their best.
There is a child I call the poster boy, because he is all things you want your maturing teen to be - excelling in school and extra curricular, polite and friendly, well behaved. I drove him home and he discussed with the younger boys the difference with the HSC work load. A few days later, I complimented the boy to his father, who stopped me when I said he was so chatty. He laughed and said "He told you all that? He doesn't talk to us at all. We have to pry it out of him". Even under the poster boy's seemingly flawless personality was the hormonal surly teen.
You need to remember it's all normal, just not easy. "You just have to keep communication open...at times it's much harder than you think."
There is an Italian proverb that needs to be shared in the birth suite 'Little children, headache; big children, heartache.' When you are next complaining of the two year old tantrums, inability to toilet train, or sleepless nights, remember that there will come a time when you are wishing it was that easy again!
PS I need to say, the upside of conversations with a teenager, is that you have intelligent, thought provoking conversations where you see an adult viewpoint emerging, and I've probably learnt more on the changing world from the teen's questions and discussions, as I'm required to think and form an opinion on stories in the news that I would normally flick by. I have someone to enjoy concerts with (though I am considered embarrassing should I throw my hands up or call out), and my love of trashy movies. I love the teen with all my heart, and I love the free thinking adult he is becoming.