Jeni Marinucci: Panic Button Years


No One Wins: Parenting Toddler Tired vs. Parenting Teens Tired

For Every Year They're Over 13, Add 10 to Your Own Age

No One Wins: Parenting Toddler Tired vs. Parenting Teens Tired

The teenage brain is an interesting and scary place. So is Disneyland, but I’m not forced to live with that in my house.

My daughter is 15, and while she is by all accounts a great kid and a model student, she is EXHAUSTING and aging me before my time. My 10-year-old son exhausts me physically, but I can handle that. A good night’s sleep after a day with him and I’m back in fighting form. Nerf bullet sniper attacks and silly putty on fabric surfaces are nothing compared to the emotional and intellectual tangles a teenager provides.

Case in point: My daughter is another story. (I actually wrote that “a nother”—two words, and it looked correct for like two whole paragraphs. See? She is sucking my brain power with a lethal mix of hormones and JLo “Glow” body spray.)

School is almost finished for the year, and I've already made three (three!) trips because she had forgotten stuff at home. I know it’s a natural part of teen development to be forgetful due to the growing child’s biological and . . . BlahBlahBlahWhenDoesTheLiquorStoreOpen? Normally I'd let the stuff sit at home and have her experience natural consequences, but this stuff was ultimately going to cause more headaches for me than for her, so back in the car I went.

I’m sure I wasn’t like this—no, that can’t possibly be right. I remember my own teenage years as being spent filled with meaningful conversations* with friends** over coffee***, at the local Tim Horton’s.****

* arguments about our communal copy of Pink Floyd’s The Wall

** some guys we met in the mall parking lot

*** beer we stole from our parents

****my basement/backseat of a van/Ontario farmers field/school smokers pit

Here’s a slice of how I’m being repaid for my own teenage transgressions (and what is giving my neck wrinkles so deep that I resemble a crepe party streamer):

“Hey! I’m packing a lunch for your brother for tomorrow. Since you haven't eaten anything that's had roots in over a week, I'll pack you one. Can you get me your water bottle, please?”

“Oh, yeah. I don’t know where it is.”

“Did you leave it at school?”

“Uh, I don’t think so. Does it matter? Whatever.” She walks away.

This is water bottle #435 since she started school in 2004. I’m thinking of sending her with a 2-gallon lambskin canteen so it stands out in the “lost and found” box at school.

“You need to start taking better care of your things. This is getting expensive.” I can’t help but mutter my current favourite parenting expression. “AND fucking ridiculous.” Add the water bottle to a long list of items now missing, which also includes flat irons, winter coats, textbooks, and pants. (PANTS!?!)

“Mother!" she admonishes. "I do take good care of my things! I just don’t know where most of them are.”

I do. They've vanished into thin air, gone forever—like my once dewy complexion and stretch mark-free mid-section.




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