When my eldest son made me a mom, I had no idea what I was doing. I’d never diapered a baby before, or fed one, or really even held one for any notable length of time.
Having a baby and not a clue was scary. I spent a lot of time researching and worrying, wondering and hoping, but through the chaos of new motherhood, we managed. I found parenting books and online resources to guide me. I connected with mothers who were candid about their successes and struggles. And even though I felt lost at times, I took great comfort in knowing that information and support were as close as my bookshelf or computer.
Now that I’m the mom of an almost-teenager, the answers aren’t as easy to come by. I’m not sure whether it was the rules or the game that suddenly changed, but everything’s somehow different.
So here I am to try and provide some guidance. When it comes to parenting an almost-teenage boy, you deserve to know these silly and serious truths:
- They’ll flirt (or at least try to) and they’ll do it very, very badly.
- You’ll have to beg them to wash their face. And by beg, I mean bribe.
- Bigger kids = bigger problems.
- Answers to the really important questions can no longer be found by index in parenting books.
- They take up a lot of physical space and your house will feel very small.
- You’ll need to hide food or risk going hungry.
- They’ll need you and sometimes resent you for it.
- They’re good for labor and brute strength.
- You’ll find yourself counting the remaining summers and holidays you have left with your son at home and it’ll hurt your heart.
- They can easily pass for an adult over the phone.
- They won’t tell you when they’re hurting and it’ll both hurt and scare you.
- Sometimes a hug is your only hope.
- You can’t fix everything anymore.
- You’ll remember — like, really remember — what it was like to be their age and you’ll feel sorry for them until you realize how lucky they are to have such cool parents.
- You’ll enjoy revisiting teen movie classics with them more than you ever dreamed of.
- You’ll feel a strange need to make up for every last parenting mistake ever made before they’re grown and gone.
- They won’t need you when you think they will and will need you when you think they probably shouldn’t.
- You should probably knock before entering their room.
- They’re smart enough to be dangerous …
- … and just dumb enough to be really dangerous.
- You’ll blame yourself for every foolish mistake your kid makes. And they’ll know it. And maybe even work it to their advantage.
- You’ll have a hard time determining whether socks and underwear belong to your son or husband.
- You’ll bargain with them even though you swore you never would.
- You’ll care how cool they think you are, probably more than you should.
- Their manners will become very important to you.
- You’ll get weird glimpses of the man they’ll soon become.
- You’ll get weird glimpses of the child they once were.
- They’re great fun to talk to when they feel like talking.
- They’re great fun to do anything with when they feel like spending time with you.
- You’ll carry guilt for not remembering enough of their childhood.
- Their room will smell like an unventilated locker room no matter what you do.
- You’ll witness weird competition between your son and his father over who can do what better and/or faster.
- They’ll know you better than you might be comfortable with.
- You’ll have a history with them so special; you won’t believe your good fortune.
- They’re going to be fine. No, really.
- You’re doing an awesome job. NO, REALLY.