Spare the Parents of Teens/Tweens a Thought

Friday, September 02, 2011

I rarely poke around the blog world anymore. As the Mom of a 13 year old, I just don't easily relate to those parents who are dealing with bottles and diapers and first steps or words.

Don't get me wrong. I don't dislike parents with young children. I know how hard that stage is - I have BEEN there. I know how cute and sweet, funny and frustrating the Kindergarten age and younger child can be.

Its just that when I look at most blogs aimed at parents, I see a plethora of Baby, Toddler and Preschool blogs or articles. Parents of kids older than 6 seem to have been tossed aside by both Media outlets and Magazine or online communities. We, as my friend Marsha noted, are the marketing Cast offs

Now if you are a parent of a Tween - which is loosely defined as the 9 through 12 age group - the irony is that you need the shoulder and advice of other parents More than ever. Issues with teachers and school, the eternal quagmire of Friendship, Body changes, the onset of Puberty and the general transition from adorable young child to still cute but at-times-hard-to-love tween.

The road that you must walk in these years is one that most of us have either truly forgotten...or forcibly pushed from our minds. No one rushes up to coo over your least no one that you don't suspect should be in custody. No one offers you advice on the street, no one stands with you in the school yard and swaps tales of "signs of puberty" with you the way you poured over the details of your ( and others) babies transition to solids, or toilet learning, or sleeping in a big girl bed.

Sure, you may get a sympathetic look when your 11 year old rolls her eyes at your suggestion that she perhaps Put the hat on her head rather than carry it on the Zero degree Celsius weather, or endure the knowing looks when your daughter loudly yells "Leave me Alone and Go to Work!" as she runs towards her friends. However, the sense of belonging is gone. You are mother islands unto yourselves. Like we are all in our own personal Parenting Fight Clubs, where the first rule is....Don't talk about how much harder this part of parenting is shaping up to be.

Or how much more frakking costly.

One would think that the media and purchasing people would be all over the parents of tweens and teens. Clothing and entertaining this age group is expensive. And if you thought your Baby outgrew things quickly? HAHAHAHAH. Try outgrowing 70 dollar sneakers every 5 weeks because her foot has decided to expand at inhuman rates. Or snowsuits that have gone from 30 or 40 dollars Total to Hundreds of dollars in order to get one that will last both the growth spurts AND Hard wear that an 12 year old will inflict upon it over the course of a winter. This summer Emily went from a size 7.5 shoe - to a 9. In under 2 months.

Do I need to mention the gift lists? These have changed too. Emily may be an only child, but she is not alone in having a cell phone and ipod of her own. Last Christmas saw her gifts include a Wii and her own laptop. Which she needed for her homework. Seriously.

Oh, and the homework. You thought the tantrums your kid threw as a Toddler were bad? The homework battles are worse. I would take ten flopping and rolling " You can't have popcorn" tantrums over one of my "I can't understand this math and I am so stupid and why does this teacher hate me and my life is terrible" tantrums. They get louder as they get older. And more articulate.

Did I mention the personal hygiene battles? You can't scoop them up and shuttle them into the tub you coax and remind and say things like "You don't want to be known as Sewer Breath Emily, do you? So BRUSH YOUR TEETH! and for the love of all that is holy, Put lotion on your ashy skin. I also know that you did not brush your hair, I can clearly see this, even though you are now crying and telling me you Did brush your hair, the half matted thing on your head indicates No brushing...."

So, Blog World, Spare a thought for the Parents of Tweens and Teens ...and perhaps even light a parenting candle for the parents of Teens. I know Babies and Toddlers are everything that makes our ovaries throb, bringing a tear of nostalgia to our eyes and a wistful reflection on the transformation the new people these creatures are becoming as well as the fierce love and tumult they have ushered into our lives.

Tweens and Teens are the people these creatures become - and they aren't as cute and loveable - and they kind of smell. The parents of these tweens and teens still exist and deserve the same types of places to gather for the support and comfort of parents who are riding this particular life rollarcoaster. They spend as much money - if not more - in stores and marketplaces.

The arguments I have heard - "But I don't talk about my Tween/teen because of their privacy" - strike me as false. You can not tell me that the privacy of your 5 year old counts less than that of your 13 year old. They may be more aware that you are talking about them on the interwebz is what you are saying. Yet that doesn't automatically equate to more or less Privacy per se.

Maybe you are more embarrassed about talking about unearthing the deep loam of what it means to be human...maybe your kid isn't talking to you the way he/she used to...maybe Sexuality and body changes and hormones freak you the fuck out. Fine. I get that. But "Privacy"? Puh-lease. If you published a story about their poop when they were 3, then save me the dramatic exhortations of suddenly seeing the light regarding privacy now.

My suspicion - and I could be totally full of shit - is that We (parents) get super uncomfortable when our Teen/Tween starts becoming "us" - as in more adult, more knowledgeable in the ways of the body and society. We distance ourselves from THEM because we either i) want to preserve some sense of them as babies/small cute people or ii) the idea that they are growing up and are about to launch into the adult realm of sexuality and attractions and love and exploration outside of the Family is we pretend it isn't happening. And we sure the hell don't talk about it.

When I asked Emily if it bothered her that I still write about her, she was her typical non-flappable self; "No", she said, "I can't stop you from writing. Besides you tell stories, it's what you Do."

Sometimes she even requests that I read my posts to her and she Laughs, heartily, at my story telling.

Emily will, of course, have her own stories to tell, someday. And I will not seek to control her stories any more than she seeks to control my stories. I do not expect to be represented in any way except how she sees me, and I grant that may not always be kindly.

But this continues to beg the question - Why no parents of teens on parenting Blog-empires-advice-consortium sites? Why no marketing attention? ( not that I want any , ugh - I do not like marketing pitches...)

Carve out a place for us. Its lonely out here, and a nice cup of coffee and some words of kindness could really go a long way.

Originally Published on CanadaMomBlogs - December 2009

2 Baleful Regards:

E. said...

This is scary, funny, and wise. I think that when people think about starting a family, all most people can really imagine is a baby. Maybe a four- or five-year-old if they're really forward-looking. But in fact, if we are lucky, our babies become people. Big, sometimes malodorous people with their own ideas and their own messes way more complicated than spaghetti on the wall or construction paper and glue.

I hope you'll keep writing the tweens. And the teens, when they come. Stories help us all survive. And I love the way you can write the uplifting and beautiful stuff without leaving out the conflict, the chaos, the ongoing and unresolved. The truth, all the big messy complexity of it.

Magic27 said...

Heartily agree. My two girls are now approaching 10 and 7 and a half, and it's true that most of the blogs I read focus on kids who are much younger. Sure, sometimes this makes me feel "useful" because of the been-there-done-that type situation, but mostly I find myself floating, adrift even.
Life kind of sucks right now and the girls are already causing me "problems" - talking back, not listening, not obeying, not doing. At school, they're angels. With their dad, I don't know (he's kind of flaky, I must admit) and with me, I feel like I'm banging my head on a brick wall all. the. time. The perpetual "bad cop". And I'm frequently in tears as a result.
And there's nothing out there that "talks" to me...
Good luck with the new school year - I'm beyond pleased school starts tomorrow because this 9-week-long summer holiday has just about killed me!

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