I recently went on a coffee date with my son who will soon enter his teens; we were celebrating a small win. During our time together we spoke about Manchester City and his hero, a book he is currently reading, a probability of a crush, stories about his grandparents, some teasing, and lots of uninterrupted careless laughter.
These days are precious and they dangle before my eyes, somedays like a threatening storm and somedays like a gentle breeze on a starless night sky.
Do You Remember Your Teenage Years?
I remember mine and the one thing I clearly remember was the fact that I felt like I was suddenly alone to figure it all out. (the Tamil saying kanna katti kaatule vittamaari -blindfolded and left to fend in a jungle).
Everything changed. Precariously and with speed. I remember feeling abducted. I remember anger. I remember feeling helpless and hopeless.
Nothing felt relevant and real anymore. Not my body, friends, feelings, and emotions. It was threatening; it came in waves and overtook every inch of safety and comfort I knew as a child. Then there was loneliness and feelings of being left alone.
Tears of frustration. Moments of breaking down and being broken down. I clearly was one of those teens who just couldn’t figure it out.
Fast forward a few decades and here I am parenting one. Teenage is most definitely a very delicate phase. Mostly misunderstood too. Because truth be told, communication becomes a monstrous task.
We parents also casually do this thing the minute we see signs of adolescence – we decide to “let go”.Of course, we smother them, love them, feed them and discipline(in capital )them. But do we pamper them(enough)? Hug them enough? Do we hold them gently when we know they are struggling to make a decision? There is an overwhelming confusion that takes over the teens and also the parents. My child is a big boy/girl now. The game changes from here on, we firmly believe. But does it?
The universe decided to hand me a fabulous opportunity to mother a toddler and a teenager at the same time. After a lot of failures, trials and terrible errors I now like to believe raising a teen and a toddler are after all the same.
Allow Me To Explain:
The toddler and the teen both need us to be present with careful love while they throw a random tantrum. I am also beginning to understand this applies to any relationship.No one needs a loud reason when upset. They need love and kindness; tons of it.
Toddlers and teens need to know who still rules their world – they love to test us, test new waters just to make sure we still hold authority. Sometimes they like to take it really far! Our job is to never buckle and hold them firmly yet with kind authority.
A toddler and a teen require tons and tons of love and no judgement when a mistake has been committed. Disciplining without judgement is the actual game changer. I am trying every day on this one and is a long way uphill.
Humour goes a long way with toddlers and teens. Most days it’s best to laugh it all off Sistah!
Remember when your toddler began walking? Remember the love, joy, encouragement, appreciation, clapping and hugging. Remember the zero judgement when falling? Remember the way you let them take the lead, have the win and yet you were just right there to hold- just in case. Your toddler knew it and so did you, you will always be there – just in case.
Your teen needs this version of you, too.
When things get overwhelming and you cannot figure it out, trust your gut and ask for help. Professionals, therapists, teachers, mentors, fellow parents, friends or family. Ask for help, to help yourself and your child(teen/toddler).
I did and it was the best thing I ever did for my child and myself- asking for help.
Why Should I Do These?
Every single day I remind myself my teen is NOT an adult. They are but only children.
(A few years ago )During a traumatising stay inside a PICU, I came to understand that until the age of 18 the child is kept at a paediatric ICU only. A child only—
I try to remind myself every day my teen only needs my love, attention, wisdom, and humour.
My teen has shown me he doesn’t need me to be perfect just present. My teen is but only a child on the brink of change, where one day the change will consume him whole, and when he looks back to search for familiarity, love and kindness – he will see you, in all your glory.
Motherhood- I think after all these years I may have just begun to understand the assignment. It’s pretty neat all the while being disastrous. It’s dangerous while being harmless. It is a love so overwhelming, it engulfs you and yet allows you to grow seamlessly in return.
Motherhood is perhaps listening keenly too, among a million other things. It is trusting that free, beautiful, wild, ever knowing and clueless spirit inside of you.
It is trusting the same wild and beautiful spirit inside your child; that is a precious part of you.