Once upon a time, many moons ago, my husband and I had four kids in 5 ½ years. It seemed like a good idea at the time, just popping out one after another until my husband put his foot down and said no more. He actually put his foot down after baby #3, but I wore him down.
When my oldest daughter initially made her appearance, my mother-in-law commented several times that she wasn’t a big fan of babies. I don’t think she was trying to be a jerk about it, she was just expressing her opinion. Still, I was incredibly hurt that she wasn’t as smitten with our adorable baby as we were.
Just today, however, I found myself saying something almost as insensitive. I told a neighbor who has grade schoolers that I actually enjoy my kids more now than I did back when they were young. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy my kids when they were younger because I truly did. My kids were the cutest ever when they were little (American voted, it’s a fact), and I was very, very involved with their activities. But, as I told my neighbor, I think I enjoy them even more now (I tried to be a bit more affirmative than my mother-in-law was in her feelings about babies).
In June, my youngest child turned 13, kicking off approximately 17 months during which we have four teenagers. I used to feel anxious about this time period, but that was before I realized all the benefits of having teens.
- They are free labor. Can your toddler mow the lawn, make dinner or go to Jewel? I didn’t think so.
- They are wage earners. Well, not always in the strictest sense, but they’ve all had opportunities to earn some of their own money, and they’ve used some of that money to buy clothes I didn’t think they needed, countless apple pies from McDonald’s that I didn’t deem necessary and country music on iTunes that I didn’t endorse.
- They can drive. Never again do I have to drive the older ones to their 7:00 AM practice on Saturday morning or retrieve them from a friend’s house on a school night because they’ve been working on a project. Couple that with the fact that my daughter both retrieved and returned two movies from Redbox this weekend and that driver’s license is worth its weight in gold.
- They watch better t.v. Let’s be honest, no one actual wants to watch “Teletubbies” or “Barney” (am I dating myself?), although my husband seemed to genuinely enjoy “Arthur” and “Sponge Bob”. Now the kids and I can kick back and enjoy a quality show on Bravo or E! for some true parent-child bonding.
- They’re too old for arts and crafts. Actually, this isn’t entirely true as my 18-year loves doing crafty activities, but now it’s nail art and scrapbooking, and she does it all by her big girl self!
- I no longer have to help them with their homework. My kids don’t even bother asking me for math help anymore since they know it would be a waste of time. Can you remember anything from Physics or PreCalc? I don’t think I ever really understood those subjects even when I was in high school. I try to act regretful when one of the kids asks me for help and I have to sadly shake my head and remind them that they’ve passed up their mommy in terms of knowledge.
- Their activities do not involve parents. When my oldest daughter started middle school, I realized with shock that not only were there essentially no volunteer opportunities for parents anymore, but the school didn’t even want the parents around. Their sports teams went from parent volunteers to teachers and paid coaches. My role now is that of supportive spectator, and I play it well.
- They’re funny. I can’t prove it here on this list, but just trust me that eating dinner with my kids is like eating dinner in the middle of a comedy competition.
- They are downright awesome. They’re like grownups, except they’re more fun!
There you have it, irrefutable evidence that teenagers are the bomb, no downside whatsoever. Well, maybe a couple blips here and there, but overall a happy surprise. I never thought I’d say, “If only I could keep them this age forever…”
Filed under: Parenting