10 Things Moms of Teen Boys Must Know

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Ever wonder what it will be like when your little boys hit puberty? Think the teen years will be exciting, challenging, and fulfilling? Want someone who has “been there, done that” to tell you how it really is?

Well holy AXE spray, zit cream, and hairy legs, I. AM. THERE. I am treading water in the teen angst cesspool (also knows as their bedroom) and desperately gasping for sanity in male-adolescent-hormone-infested waters. Waters that run deep, wide, smart-mouthed, and scruffy-chinned. Where dirty boxer shorts, crumpled up and forgotten homework assignments, lost ear buds, sweaty socks, and junk food wrappers are forever afloat. These waters do not come with a lifeboat. (Honestly, I don’t need a lifeboat, I need a pressure washer and a bullhorn, but we will get to that in a sec.)

Don’t get me wrong: my teenagers are great kids. They do well in school, are witty, empathetic, amusing, and are actually growing into really cool adults. But there are minutes, days, sometimes weeks where I — in teen terms — like, TOTES. CAN’T. EVEN. wrap my mind around their behavior.

I wish someone had told me…..

1. Everything will smell. Their car. Their closet. Their bathroom. Their bedroom. The hallway that leads to their room. It will be a funky, sweaty, noxious, musty, foul, deodorant soap-covering-perspiration, “I am no longer a little boy” type of odor. No candle, plug-in, floral spray or wax melt comes close to touching it. So stop trying. When they move out, painting the room and replacing the carpet MAY help. I say MAY.

2. They will suddenly want to wash their own sheets. They will bounce down the stairs with all of their bedding wrapped up in a tiny ball, duck into the laundry room, and out of nowhere suddenly want to start the washing machine with no help. Don’t ask. Don’t help. Don’t acknowledge. Move on, mom. This doesn’t involve you. Just a boy and his dreams.

3. There is no frustration greater than teaching a teenager how to drive. I’m almost done teaching my second son how to drive. I’ve got chewed-up cuticles, severe hair loss, and a scrip for reducing heart palpitations to prove it. No matter how cautious, careful, and smart of a driver they appear to be, and even with mom riding shotgun, dents will happen. So will things like, “Does yellow happen before or after green?” and, “Is 65 the fastest I can go?” Shoot. Me. Now.

4. When not sleeping, they are eating. Ever wake up at 3 a.m. to what sounds like raccoons in your kitchen digging through the garbage for food? Folks at Costco finally give you a parking spot up front? Then you get it. I live in “Never Enough Burritos” land. Someone please invent a pepperoni pizza patch that I can slap on their arms and that will offer 24-hour continuous nourishment.

5. When not eating, they are sleeping. When I had a house full of babies that woke everyday before sunrise, never, ever, EVER did I think that I would ever sleep in again. But teens? They SLEEP THE HELL IN!! Like until NOON. Comatose almost. Not gonna lie, it’s freakin’ awesome. Awesome until they have to wake up at dawn, like, say, for school. Then you are totally screwed. Invest in a bullhorn and pray for Saturdays.

6. They will take risks. Big ones. Mind-numbing ones. Risks that your shy, overly cautious, hesitant little boy would never take. (Personally, I think the part of the brain that kept him wary and watchful is now controlled by images of boobies and butts, but who knows.) Basically, boy brains are fearless, reckless, and have zero sense of consequences. If you’ve ever uttered the words, “Not my kid,” take it back. Take it back right effing NOW. Trust me.

7. They think they know everything. Yes, that cliché is true, and they will actually say this to your face. I literally recorded mine saying it to me. Even he laughed. This brazen way of thinking must somehow be a survival mechanism. Perhaps if they had an authentic grasp of adulthood and what real life will throw at them someday, they wouldn’t even want to reach 18. Let’s just allow them to keep thinking they know everything. Why ruin the party?

8. They will not want to hug much anymore. Like ever. But keep trying. You will become the physical form of kryptonite, and when they see you with your arms outstretched, they may run away in horror. Keep trying anyway. Because out of the blue one day, they will toss their arm around your shoulder and give a squeeze, a grin, and say “I love you mom.” (It may only occur when your trunk is full of groceries but hey, take what you can get.) They may seem aloof and un-wanting of your affection, but don’t believe it. They want it. Hug when and if you can.


9. Showers. All day. Every day. Go ahead and buy the low-flow shower head on their 13th birthday, as it will save you about $500 a year. Kids you previously had to beg, bribe, and literally chase down and throw into the shower now spend a quarter of their entire day in there. And yet, still #1. Washing diligently? Probably not, but don’t be that mom who knocks and cracks an embarrassing joke. Just don’t.

10. You thought your newborn grew overnight? You won’t believe these spurts. The mere fact that these boys I now have to crane my neck and look UP to used to fit in the football hold under my arm is mind-boggling. But it happens. And it does so at warp speed. They will go to bed one night with the voice of a Vienna Choir boy and walk out the next morning Pavarotti. Pants that one day you have to roll up will be capris the next. We have skipped three whole shoe sizes at one time. Must have something to do with #4. In the blink of an eye you will go from holding the soft padded hands of a little boy to holding a hand that feels like your husband’s. And the one thing you really need to know? Watching your boys turn into men is pretty darn cool.

Related post: 10 Things You Need to Know About Raising a Teenager

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What No One Ever Tells You About Raising a Teenage Daughter

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As you held your squirming tiny bundle of adorable girl child for the first time, you probably envisioned pretty pink bows and frilly ruffles being lovingly placed on your gorgeous little lady. You would hug her and smile with her for all eternity and everything would be sunshine and roses, right?

WRONG!

During the constant deluge of unsolicited advice you received while pregnant, no one told you about what happens when they turn into teenagers. You were one of these creatures. So was I! A reckless, defiant, asshole of a teenager, I might add. The words, “I hope you have a daughter just like you!” flew out of my mother’s mouth more than once. Who knew her prophecy would come true in such a staggeringly accurate and frightening way? Sure, my daughter has a little more nurturing and self-esteem than I had, some brunette DNA from my husband, and a few different habits born of this Internet age, but basically, SHE IS MY CLONE! And it’s not all that great.

Here’s what no one ever tells you about having a teenage daughter…

1. They’re body-snatchers. They literally steal your body. No, really, they do! That 5 foot 6 inches and 118 pounds of smooth dancer’s grace…that was you. It’s like the little thief absorbed it right through the placenta and somehow hid it under her skin all these years, only to expose it on her fourteenth birthday, for you to never ever see it in the mirror again.

2. That’s not all they steal. You like having pads when that time of the month comes? Sorry, nope. Teenage Mutant Ninja Daughter started twelve hours before you and now they’re all gone! As is your fingernail polish remover, your sanity, your favorite book, your hairspray, that Wonder Woman shirt you loved—although it was too small to be worn in public and not have any of the best-when-hidden bits falling out, it was YOURS! Now it’s gone, and it looks better on her. UGH!

3. They always need to go somewhere. Every. Single. Day. A friend’s house, various sports practices, dance classes, extra school assignments that can’t possibly get done during school hours. Pack some granola bars away in the glove box, my friend. Your car is your new second home until she gets her license. And then she’ll probably try to steal your car, too!

4. They’re hypochondriacs. Something ALWAYS hurts. “I have a headache,” “my knee hurts,” “I have cramps. Where’s the heating pad?” Seriously? You logically know that 90% of these aches and pains are probably hormonal or growing pains since she’s shot up 6 inches in the last 3 years. There’s not much that can be done about them, but when you suggest going to the doctor and let her know that blood will probably have to be drawn, suddenly she feels all better! Till tomorrow. Sheesh!

5. You will be jealous of her (See #1). This I was not expecting at all. I remember watching her try on clothes one day, dismissing my “so ’90s” suggestions, and twisting around to see herself in her odd little whimsical creation that she modeled after something she saw on Pinterest, and I thought, “WOW! She’s stunning!” And I felt myself turn green. I will never have that toned body, wrinkle free skin, thick hair, and all-over perkiness ever again. Who knew you could actually be jealous of one of your own most magnificent creations?

6. Girls fart just as much as boys. And laugh their butts off, too. Then they blame it on their brothers/the cat/creaky floorboards. Pass the Febreeze!

7. She has more attitude and snark than can possibly be handled by one human in a single day. But she has it EVERY DAY! And even though you’re a wise, mature adult, you’ll find yourself dishing it right back! Where does she think she gets it? She’s just the student in this class; you’re the master! Then when your cycles sync up and you have a migraine, well…wine is your friend. I prey she doesn’t need as much therapy as I did. I should start a savings jar for that.

8. You will try with all your might, and probably fail, to keep your own body image issues from her ears at all times. No matter what you do, she will develop her own, anyways. She is surrounded by other girls at school 8 hours a day; since you cannot control their body issues, or their mothers’ body issues, or their mothers’ mothers’ body issues, she will need your constant reassurance that she is perfect and beautiful. It’s a cruel world for a girl. If you can’t protect her from it, I say try to balance out the negative with some positive.

9. She will astound you and make you feel downright stupid with her brilliance. Her math skills and knowledge of current events will surpass your own at a staggering rate. You’ll find that her intelligence only grows with age, and you can barely remember if you’ve had breakfast yet today. (You haven’t, go eat!)

10. Last, but not least… She will be your greatest friend. I’m not saying you’ll take her to her first kegger or dish with her about all your past and her future sexual exploits. What I mean is that she sees when you’ve been crying and hugs you before anyone else even notices you were feeling down. She will tell you which shoes look best with a certain pair of pants, or when you’re wearing too much perfume. She will be the first one to tell you “Happy Birthday” and the last one to say “I Love You” at night before bed. She is your best girlfriend and I hope she always will be. There will sometimes be things you can’t talk with her about, but you know if you need a hug and some chocolate, she’ll always have your back.

So, embrace that pretty pink bundle of newborn, snuggle with that grumpy sticky toddler, dance ridiculously with your tween tomboy, and know what lies ahead is a chaotic mess of insecurities, heartaches, beauty, and love.

She’ll grow out of the attitude once she turns eighteen, right? No?

Shit.

Related post: The Multiple Personalities of a Tween Girl

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The Period Talk I’m Proud I Had With My Daughter

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There we were, my 11-year-old daughter and I, sitting in the lunch room of her elementary school in our pajamas, the smell of freshly-delivered pizza wafting through the air and surrounded by about 30 giddy, energetic fifth-grade girls, along with 30 quietly nervous, fidgeting parents. Aptly titled, “Girls Night Out,” we showed up for a “program to offer information on the growing up process, as well as some preparation for the changes that will be taking place in the students’ lives and their bodies.” If you are a parent, then you may know this as “the talk,” a.k.a., that dreaded moment when a dad has to reconcile with the fact that his baby is no longer a baby, that the even more dreaded teenage years are right around the corner. Why, you might wonder, was I, as a dad, taking my daughter to an event populated solely by women and their daughters? Because my daughter asked me to. And if my daughter trusts me enough to ask me to accompany her to a knowingly uncomfortable event, then that is the kind of trust I want to continue nurturing, because it is that trust that will keep our communication flowing freely later in life. As mothers and daughters filled in the last of the tables, the side-eyes and curious glances were painfully obvious, and under other circumstances, might have made me feel overly conspicuous or out-of-place, but not that night. That night, I was there for my daughter. Once finished with a painfully awkward icebreaker, where we asked one another questions to gauge our mutual knowledge of the female menstrual cycle, we were shown an informational video, circa 1980s Betamax, and during the video, the characters talked awkwardly about the changing female body (breasts, pimples, body hair, hips, etc.) and how the female reproductive system works. Shrill, nervous, preteen giggles pierced the awkward silence, and with each one, the tension grew. After the video, we were provided time for the girls to ask questions. Some were brave enough to ask publicly, while others chose to submit theirs anonymously via note cards. The questions were honest and brimming with curiosity about their imminent future, but despite the compulsory giggling, they handled the conversation with remarkable courage. Observing adult reactions to the event was another story. Many were blushing. Most were whispering. Some looked as though they wanted to be anywhere but in an elementary school lunchroom on a Tuesday evening, talking puberty and menstruation with their daughters. That’s when I had to say something, for my daughter’s sake. I announced that, if I, as a father parent, treat topics like these as though they are taboo, then why should my daughter feel comfortable talking to me about them? No thanks, I said, I want my daughter to feel like she’s normal and natural. So, I talked about periods. I guessed aloud how much blood a girl might lose during each one, and I proudly fielded a question that showed I know periods last three to seven days, on average. I had no issue whatsoever with informing others that a typical cycle from one period to the next is usually around 28 days, nor did I take offense at being asked to explain the importance of charting said cycles. I reassured my little girl by telling her that, just before starting her period, she might just feel like friends and family are suddenly annoying and intolerable, and that’s all right, because it’s normal. Many girls do. I didn’t wince, nor did I whisper, when I told her that she might get her period tomorrow, or she might get it five or more years from now, but that no matter when it happens, she is still perfectly normal, no matter how it might feel to her at the time, and that her mother and I will be there for her to answer any questions she might have, no matter what. Lastly, I guaranteed my daughter that I would be available any time she needs me to buy tampons or pads for her, but then I also reminded her that, someday, when she feels like she’s ready for a relationship, any boy worth her time will feel the same. Any guy who is too ashamed to show the world he is involved with a girl with a working uterus is not worth her time. It’s time that fathers take a more active role in educating and raising their daughters to accept themselves for all that they are and ever will be. It’s time for all parents, but especially dads, to stop treating topics like menstruation and puberty like they are highly contagious diseases. It’s time for all of us to make our daughters (not to mention other girls and women) feel less like shameful secrets and more like the valuable yin to our yang that they truly are. Period. Related post: Having The Sex Talk With a Teenage Boy The post The Period Talk I’m Proud I Had With My Daughter appeared first on Scary Mommy.