Living with Teens

It’s a weird sort of phenomenon. I co-exist comfortably, easily and happily with our two teenagers in this lovely household of ours. My husband also co-exists with our two teenagers in this lovely household, just not always as comfortably or as easily as I do (although he swears up and down that he is quite happy with them – and we all do believe him, except maybe when he’s muttering about towels and dishes under his breath).

So I got to pondering why there is this difference between my life with our two teenagers and his life with our two teenagers.

It didn’t take long before I figured it out. To put it simply:

“It doesn’t drive me nuts that …”

You see, it doesn’t drive me nuts that:

They go through clean towels like crazy. Personally, I see my kids’ point – I like to re-use towels but only a couple of times. And when it comes right down to it, towels are so simple to wash and put away.

Whenever I hear my husband muttering “Another new towel!”, I can never resist pointing out that at least they’ve placed the old towels in the laundry hamper, rather than leaving them on the floor, or draped over the bathtub, or spreading mildew among their dirty clothes scattered on their bedroom floor.

They hoard dishes and water bottles in their rooms and at their computers. If I see an excess of dishes and water bottles in the office, I just gather them up and take them to the kitchen – I pass by their desks on my way out of the room anyway.

And, as long as they’re not doing anything illegal or bringing in mice and/or bugs, I figure their rooms are their space to do with as they please. Sooner or later, they get tired of the mess and clean it up. Yes, that does happen.

My advice? “Just don’t look in their rooms, honey.” That’s why they have doors. And they very cooperatively keep those doors shut most of the time.

My closet is constantly raided. I am the same size as my daughter and most of her friends. Over the past few years, I’ve gotten over any sense of surprise when the door opens and one of my daughter’s friends comes into the room wearing one of my tops.

In fact, now that several of them have part-time jobs and seem to have upgraded their wardrobes, it’s been quite lovely, because I never know what might end up in my laundry somehow, and yes, I harbor no guilt about wearing anything I see that catches my fancy.

Not to mention, they all, very fortunately, have larger feet than I do. So my precious shoes are safe.

The occasional impromptu ramen party takes place in our kitchen. It happens. And when four to eight teenage girls descend on the kitchen to make themselves bowls of ramen, well, you’re going to find ramen noodle wrappers and used soup base packages all over the place, right?

It takes just minutes for me to toss the packaging into the garbage. I’m just happy that they’re having fun here, at our house, rather than somewhere else. It’s always nice when my kids are home.

They play video games or are on the Internet all night long. Well, it’s tough for me to get riled up about this one, isn’t it? Especially since I’m sitting there on my computer next to them the whole time, and if I have any spare time on my hands, I’m playing The Sims 3 …

On the odd occasion when I do find myself getting upset over something teenager-ish (like when I can’t find ANY of my jeans), I find it fairly easy to switch thoughts in mid-gear (plus, they usually leave my skirts alone). On such occasions I usually remember things like:

  • they (almost) always call to let me know where they are, and when they’ll be home.
  • they hate asking me for money or asking me to buy them anything. (I can’t quite figure this out because I’ve always spoiled them rotten, and you know what people say about spoiling your kids rotten).
  • I don’t embarrass them (much).
  • they often sit next to me on the couch and help me out with whatever iPhone game I’m playing (especially if I’m playing Bejewelled or Suduko).
  • if I’m lying on the sofa with a head cold or some such thing, one or the other of them will walk by, pat my head, and say, “Poor mom”.
  • they think I’m a techno-wiz when it comes to the computer and social networking (not so much when it comes to working the DVD controls).
  • we have so many lovely, grown-up conversations, and they talk to me about all the things I want them to be able to talk to me about: sex, friends, school, plans for the future, women’s rights, gay rights, human rights – the list is endless.
  • it gives them both such delight that they are taller than I am.
  • spending family nights together on the weekends watching Bones on DVD.
  • getting the occasional surprise hug from one of them – and almost always, it’s out of the blue.

Most of all, any aggravation I have fades when I look at them and remember that they’ll both be off leading their own lives within the next few years.

And I’ve promised myself I will only cry about it when they’re not looking.

18 thoughts on “Living with Teens

  1. Jennifer @ Mrs. Q: Book Addict

    I love this post!

    My parents and I are really close as well. I always feel sad when people talk about how much they hate their parents and don’t want them to visit. My parents and I live close and I see them all the time. My mom and I spend a lot of time together. My husband and I also lived with them while I was in university. I think it’s great to have a close family and ignore the little things in life. I know my parents are there if I need anything.

    Reply
  2. Kathleen

    What a lovely post. I have a teenage son (almost 16) and I share many of these sentiments. However you remind me to let go of some of the little stuff like the Ramen wrappers (funny I thought he was the only one who did that…I feel so much better now) since he’s home and healthy and that is all that counts! Happy Friday and thanks for reminding me of what is really important when you are raising teenagers.
    .-= Kathleen´s last blog ..Thoughts on If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson =-.

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  3. Kathy

    Such a nice post. I think it is important sometimes to remember all the good things our family members do because too often it’s easier to focus on the few bad things they do. It sounds like you have a couple of great kids!
    .-= Kathy´s last blog ..Current Giveaways! =-.

    Reply
  4. Janel

    You’re giving me hope that I’ll survive my kids’ teen years! Within the next year or two I’ll probably be going through the closet raids, but like you said, that can work both ways :)
    .-= Janel´s last blog ..Jumblicious 1/15/10 =-.

    Reply
  5. Jemi Fraser

    Marvelous! I think I have a good relationship with my kids as well. I just don’t sweat the small stuff. They’re good kids, I just want to enjoy them. Picking up water bottles and plates is definitely the small stuff :)
    .-= Jemi Fraser´s last blog ..Cupcakes! =-.

    Reply
  6. Ann-Kat (Today, I Read...)

    *hugs* Belle. That is so sweet…I think my tooth just started to hurt. ^_^

    Seriously though, your family sounds wonderful. I hear so many horror stories about teenagers today (my sister’s a nurse and you wouldn’t *believe* some of the things teenagers end up in the ER with and don’t want their parents to find out about). You are incredibly blessed.

    BTW, I miss you. :)
    .-= Ann-Kat (Today, I Read…)´s last blog ..Giveaway: Wish by Alexandra Bullen (Autographed) =-.

    Reply
  7. Ruth

    Aww, that’s such a nice post. :) I hope I can have the same attitude when I have teenage kids! (If only my mum had had the same “at least she keeps her door closed so you can’t see the enormous mess” attitude!)

    That’s fantastic that you can talk to them about all those different subjects as well. Sounds like they’re very lucky to have you, and vice versa. :)
    .-= Ruth´s last blog ..New author challenge 2010 =-.

    Reply
  8. Dawn Becker

    When I first had the boys, my step-mother in-law (the one I liked) said “Dawn, the days are long but the years are short.” And I think about that when I find myself sometimes wishing the days over and us into the next week during tough times. And then I regret it and I want to hang on so tight to the kids.

    I think you have a perfect balance of understanding and reason and respect for your kids. Great post. I didn’t know you cried about them leaving. I’ll be around to keep you company. That’s what sisters are for. :)
    .-= Dawn Becker´s last blog ..Savouring Saveur =-.

    Reply
  9. MarthaAndMe

    My teen and almost 12 yr old don’t drive me nuts either. I have pretty much the same attitude you do. They’re good about the important stuff and the rest of it doesn’t matter. I would much rather have a nice relationship with them than constantly be nagging or complaining about dishes or towels.

    Reply
  10. Dorte H

    Oh, I love this post!

    “And, as long as they’re not doing anything illegal or bringing in mice and/or bugs, I figure their rooms are their space to do with as they please.” – my daughter and I second this!

    I am not quite as tolerant as you, though, at least not when it comes to towels. I feel I spend too much time washing & tidying the house.

    But if your children love you and you love them, and they are not into anything illegal or stupid, you should be happy and proud!
    .-= Dorte H´s last blog ..And the Winners are … =-.

    Reply
  11. Cat Woods

    Belle, how wonderful for you. I, too, have two teenagers and love them dearly. I have yet to feel the angst and frustration at having them do all the things you’ve described above.

    I love every second of my time and know that it’s limited. So if that means listening to kids making popcorn at 3pm, that’s okay in my book.
    .-= Cat Woods´s last blog ..Short Fiction Sunday =-.

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