Parenting, Serious stuff

Celebrate the small victories

Raising teenagers is tough work. Every parent knows this. Much of our time is spent in constant battle about homework, attitude, fashion, showering and a million other endless and mind-numbing topics. Most days I consider it a victory if I make it through the evening with only one of my two teenagers not speaking to me.

Communication is so difficult at this age that I find myself yearning for their younger selves. Who would have thought I’d miss the days where Elmo and Max and Ruby were topics I’d want to talk about? I remember thinking that my brain was going to turn to liquid and pour out of my ears if I had to watch those two rabbits one. More. Time. Now, I’d give my left arm to have anything to talk to them about that made them WANT to converse with me.

I got my wish today with some of the saddest news the music industry had to suffer. My oldest son and I share a love of music, much of the same music, an eclectic taste that my husband does not understand. Jimmy called me.

“Mom, did you hear that David Bowie died?”

“Yeah, I did. It’s sad. He was only 69.”

We talked for a good fifteen minutes about him, about his music and his influence on culture. We talked about his songwriting and his collaborations with other musicians and the career that spanned decades.

He ended the conversation with, “I just wanted to talk to you about this. I know we aren’t huge fans, but I thought we’d need to talk about this. To process it.”

My 15 year-old son brought me to tears with one word. We.

It occurred to me that this was one of those moments parents need to cling to, one of the small victories. My mind hung on those two letters like a drowning man to a life raft. In this sea of teenage angst, wandering in a forest of parental confusion, we became a sliver of light at the end of a pitch-black tunnel. My heart soared.

Find your moment, parents. Find your “we.” And cling to it with all you have.


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Parenting, Snark

Stay Away From My Baby, Shark Girls!

I have a teenage son.  He is all about his friends and girls and hanging out and talking on the phone and staying away from “YOU PEOPLE,” his term of endearment for his dad and I.  Evidently, we’re not as cool as we think we are.

I’ve been feeling a little more Mama Bear lately than normal.  It all comes down to girls.  I know I used to be one, but these modern girls…boy howdy!  I have the desire to grab their jaws and force their mouths open just to prove that they have several rows of teeth.  I’m convinced they are sharks.  They certainly seem to be circling my precious baby and I sense blood in the water.Stay away from my baby!

He plays things close to the vest.  He never lets me in too far.  I’m left to my own devices and have to embrace my inner Secret Squirrel to learn any facts going on in his life.  It’s not too hard, if I’m being honest.  He is a boy.  Boys are LOUD by nature.  I can usually get the gist of the current teenage drama while cleaning the bathroom as he talks on the phone in his room.  (Yeah.  My toilet sparkles.  What of it?)

You see, I’ve discovered that there is at least one girl in his circle of friends who is playing games.  She’s canceling plans without having the decency to call.  She’s playing boys against one another.  She’s using boys who like her simply BECAUSE they like her.  She’s getting my hackles up, is what she’s doing.

I tried the diplomatic approach.  I sat my teen down and had a little talk.

“Jimmy,” I said, “be careful.  Some girls are not as nice as they seem.”

With all the doubt afforded a 14-year-old who is assured that I, an adult, know absolutely nothing, he says, “Yes, mother.”

“I’m serious.  There are some out there–and I am not insinuating that you know any–BUT there are some out there who will use a boy just because she knows he likes her.”

“Yes, mother.”

Then I went to Jim.

“She’s doing it,” I said pacing the floor.

“She who is doing what?” he said, clicking away on some zombie game on the computer.

“Oh, you KNOW who.  She’s messing with my baby.”

“Miranda, calm down.  This is normal teenage bullshit.  It’ll pass.”

Astounded at his cavalier attitude, I stopped and planted my hands firmly on my hips, “HOW can you sit there and say it will pass?  She’s going to hurt him!  I can see it coming a mile away!”

“Yes.  And it’s a tough lesson he has to learn.  Let him.  Stay out of it.”

With a huff because I know he’s right, I sat on the couch and leafed through a magazine.

Jimmy came downstairs and began complaining that his knee was hurting.  I called the doctor and made an appointment since this was the third time he’d complained and I wasn’t sure it was nothing.

I carted him off to his appointment and I was quiet, trying my hardest to let him have his space, to reign in Mama Bear and Secret Squirrel.

When the doctor examined him she said it was likely just growing pains.  Jimmy is a pretty tall kid for his age and it seems he’s just getting taller faster.

“It’s all right,” she said.  “Girls like tall boys.”

I just wanted to crawl under the exam table until……

“But, listen here, young man.  Girls are sharks and don’t you forget it.  They will hurt you the first chance they get.  Don’t believe them when they say they’re on the pill.  Don’t believe them when they say they are virgins and you won’t get anything from them.  This body is YOURS.  Your mom worked hard to make it, you take extra good care of it.”

He blushed, smiled and said, “Yes, ma’am.”

“I’m serious.  They tried that crap with my son and I told him for years to watch out.  The last thing you need is a case of the cooties that won’t EVER go away, or a baby you can’t afford, or a broken heart that you don’t want.  Use your head out there.”

He blushed again and nodded.

As he went to the truck without me, I lagged behind.  Once he was out of ear shot I said, “Thank you so much for saying that!”

“Oh, don’t worry.  I tell every boy who comes through here the same thing.  I modify it a bit for the girls, but they get their version, too.  I know they don’t listen to moms and dads.”

Then I did something I never do.  I hugged her.

I backed off my toilet scrubbing for a whole week after that.

And now there’s three new girls on the scene….

I’m feeling the need for a Morocco Mole of my own.  Who can keep track of all these sharks?

Want to hear more about my challenges in mothering two boys?  Buy my book Lemonade and Holy Stuff.  Available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Tell me about your challenges in parenting hormonal teens in the comments below!  Also, follow me @MirandaGargasz or on Facebook at Miranda Gargasz, Writer.