This morning as I was ploughing through the washing mountain, it suddenly occurred to me that a new age has begun in our household. My daughter is now old enough to fit my clothes, which means I can wear hers! Our wardrobes have effectively doubled, if I can excuse the odd generation gap in tastes. As both a mother and a high school teacher, I started to reflect on all the other awesome things that come from having teenagers in my life.
The obvious one is they love to sleep in. Gone are the bleary eyed days of getting up at six am to watch cartoons and make breakfast (you still can if you want to though). My kids would happily sleep the entire morning away if I didn’t get bored waiting to see their sweet faces and start developing creative ways to wake them up. FYI, these include singing or rapping them the good morning song out of ‘Singing in the Rain,’ conducting an impromptu ballet dance in the centre of their room, or simply sending the Labrador in with its wet nose…
They are beginning to understand the value of a dollar and develop an appreciation for how tiring work can be. This is because high school is a challenging environment with many deadlines to meet. While (all) my kids are writing their assignments, I'm marking them. We understand each other and the system. With strong incentives for cash to be able to socialise and eat out, use smart phones and invest in their sports and hobbies, they are becoming motivated to earn, and my husband and I no longer need to mow the lawn, empty the dishwasher or hang out the washing ourselves any more. At school I get to enjoy and vicariously experience the excitement of students who share stories about landing their first jobs, getting their licence, and receiving rewards for their hard work.
They are experts at fixing technology. When I can’t work out why Netflix won’t turn on, even though I'm pushing the exact same bloody button I always do, my teenagers solve the problem quickly. My students have helped me continue many a lesson through sorting out overhead projector issues, and speeding up the process of navigating YouTube and even word documents.
We can have really interesting conversations about really interesting stuff. Discussion topics include current events, politics, the state of the economy, different cultures, travel destinations, civil rights, smoking, drugs and alcohol use. We still tell fart jokes because let's face it, they never get old. On developing speaking skills, they have also entertainingly perfected the use of hyperbole such as, 'I totally died the other day,' ' Where were you? I've been waiting for like a million years,' and, 'you are the best mother/father in the entire world, can I have ten dollars?'
They are discerning with their affection. Whilst my own off-springs' modus operandi may have shifted from puppy dog willingness to selective cat-like tendencies, the joy of an unexpected hug or compliment is still as heart-melting as the sloppy, sticky waist grabbing experiences of younger years. This goes hand in hand with the development of a healthy dose of scepticism which will come in handy to protect them out in the big, wide world.
At home, I get to meet their friends, (as long as I promise not to be too embarrassing), who are also talented, interesting individuals with opinions about the world we live in. Our household is a livelier, brighter place because of this.
But I have to say, one of the absolute best parts as a parent is my husband and I can finally have a date night. Moving 1000 kilometres away from our families has significantly shrunk our 'village'. With friends in similar situations we have often been reluctant to ask for help, preferring to ask for babysitting in an emergency rather than on the luxury of having an evening on our own. And now we can because our children are old enough to look after themselves for a couple of hours! As my son said, when I asked him what the best part of becoming a teenager was, 'parents leave you alone and you get to be more independent.'
Who am I to mess with that? Teenagers are awesome.