A couple of weeks ago, Kaden got his driver's permit. He will be 16 in November. My other kids are 11, 9 and 2. Needless to say, I have had a lot of experience with a wide range of ages in kids. I've experienced the "terrible twos" four times over. I've had threenagers, school age and everything in between. Granted, I have a long way to go, but I have been thinking a lot about teenagers.
When you have kids, you will get a lot of warnings. People will tell you when you are pregnant to sleep now because when the baby comes, you will never sleep again. Then you are warned to enjoy them while they don't move because you will need to childproof everything. Then you will be warned about the "terrible twos" (which are actually not that bad) or "threenagers" (which are actually my favorite). Basically, from the time your kids are born you are both dreading the next stage and also not being able to wait until they are out of diapers or in school full time or able to drive themselves places. Let me tell you, it is like having a full blown panic attack for 18 years, 24 hours a day. You worry that they will be healthy or good in school or be a nice person. You worry that they are getting enough Vitamin C or outside time or cultural influence. You will worry that they are experienced, but not spoiled; educated but not cocky; independent but not secluded.
One stage everyone looooooves to warn you about is when your kids become teenagers. "Oh! Just wait until they're teenagers!" They will say. And granted I've only had two, almost three, teenage years under my belt, but I am here to warn you--it's not that bad. Truly. I am constantly amazed by my son, Kaden. I had him myself as a teenager. Then I raised him as a single mom for much of his life. I can't begin to list the things I did wrong as a mother. Literally. I was not abusive or neglectful, but outside of that, the kid ate a lot of Cheetos. And spent many nights with my mom while I worked two jobs or partied like I was a "normal" young adult. And I didn't spend extra time making sure he could ride a bike or do multiplication. So now as an older mom, I cannot fathom the opportunities that I missed that could have made him excel as a child. Not to mention, he didn't exactly have the easiest time outside of being raised by a young mother.
But guess what? He turned out just fine. In fact, I am pretty freaking proud of the man that my son is turning out to be. He holds a job, has a checking account and a savings account (which he voluntarily puts money into toward a car) and he comes home at curfew every night. The first week of school, I dropped Kaden off and his vice-principal was standing outside, waiting to talk to me. My history with Kaden's teachers wanting to talk to me has not been great. At all. So my stomach fell immediately. "I just wanted to tell you, I've heard rumors and I cannot confirm them but . . . I hear that the kids have been saying that Kaden is the kid to hang out with if they don't want to get into trouble." He is well respected by his football coach, his boss at work and his friends' parents. One parent even Facebook messaged me (I'd never even heard of her or her kid before) to compliment me on Kaden's mannerisms.
Last week, something happened. Kaden came home from work with a black eye. Like a black eye that turned into a huge, puffed up, completely bloodshot, can't open it, black black eye. Immediately, I was concerned. Turns out, Kaden was riding his bike home from work and saw a guy pushing around a girl and calling her a bitch. So Kaden stopped and told the guy to knock it off. He punched Kaden in the face, blew smoke in his face and ran off when Kaden punched him back in the nose. Now, I don't condone violence. I voiced loudly and numerous times to Kaden about how dangerous that was because that guy could've had a weapon. But. BUT. I could not be prouder of him for standing up for what is right.
So I'm here to tell you--don't worry about teenagers. Even those that have been through unnecessary bullshit. Even those that were born of teenage mothers. Turns out, they aren't so bad anyway.
But one day I will warn you about pre-teens . . . that is some shit that NO ONE prepares you for. I can't wait until Conner turns 13.
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