First of all I look back and remember the awkward and nearly unbearable teenage kids stacked 5 to 7 deep under one roof of a 4-bedroom house with two working adults.
Oh the fights, the looks and eye rolling. There was screaming and tears, of course, but there were good times, too. Like most teenagers, they couldn’t wait to get out of the house and hang out with their friends. As they spread their wings, we encouraged them gently reminding them of their newly acquired adult responsibilities and the dangers that come with freedom such as overspending, caring for your own car, getting caught up in credit card debt and the very important aspects of education and employment.
There was a time when I thought I am never going to live through this hell they call parenthood. These things we call human teenagers were acting less human then our dog. I had to ask myself over and over, Oh my gosh did I act like this at their age? It’s unthinkable! Certainly I didn’t know everything, and my head didn’t spin like the famous satanic possessed Hollywood character in “The Exorcist,” did it? Somehow we managed. Not just with our five children all by ourselves, we managed with a few extra kids if you count the friends and cousins. We listened and took advice from friends and family, therapists and counselors, grandparents, neighbors, police and fireman. Oh and there were those judges and doctors and, teachers and well, the “village.” It really did somehow take a village to raise a child.
Fast forward and here we are today. It is 2012, and now the two youngest of our children are about to turn 19. It doesn’t seem possible. It went by so fast. With that said slowly and faintly those teenage years don’t seem so bad now. In fact, sitting around the living room after the now-helpful kids put all the food away clean the kitchen and washed the dishes, we each listened and laughed about the “good old days” and I may have even found a tear or two.
The best part of family dinner night for the kids is probably a delicious home cooked meal and a great time to kill a few birds, eat, do somelaundry, use the Internet, shop in the pantry, play a family game or sit around the fire pit and roast marshmallows. But the best part for us is having them all under one roof again. Their voices have changed, their looks have changed, their living arrangements have certainly changed, but every Monday night the one thing that hasn’t changed is the love we share with our children, our nieces and nephews, friends and our family. It is truly amazing watching these children grow into adulthood. It’s as amazing as watching a caterpillar turn into a butterfly.
For those of you out there struggling with your teenager my advice is simple I had a T-shirt when I was a little girl that said Love is like a butterfly, it goes where it pleases and pleases where it goes. Let them know where you stand — do not parent out of fear or guilt. Teach them your values, right from wrong and give them their wings. They will rebel, and they will make bad choices, but they will never doubt your love. Those beautiful creatures will once again become human and grace you with their presence as they like the butterfly, become fully developed.
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