I’ll never forget the elderly lady on the bus. My then two-year old was pitching a tantrum. She leaned over, and with a smirk said, “Don’t worry, Dear. One day he’ll be a teenager.”
Thanks. At that moment, throwing myself out of the moving bus seemed like a reasonable alternative. Dear God, if a two-year old had me on the ropes, how the hell would I ever manage to parent a teenager?
Now that I have a sixteen year old in the house, and two toddlers, I’m surprised to discover that the teenager is way, way, WAY easier to parent.
Here are the reasons why I prefer teens to toddlers:
- Potty trained. Considering I’m in the throes of potty training the three-year old, this cannot be appreciated enough. Never again will I hear the teenager demand me to wipe her butt, or announce, “I pooped!” in public.
- Quieter tantrums: Sure, the teenager gets moody, will stomp around and slam a door, but she doesn’t throw herself on the ground, shrieking and wailing because her sandwich is cut in four pieces, instead of two.
- Genuine conversations: I can talk to my teen about all sorts of different subjects, and debate different points of view. I don’t have to endure constant rehashing of Thomas the Train, attempt to translate gibberish, or answer the same question fifty billion times in a row.
- Never does my teenager ask me to sniff suspicious items in her hand, or on her fingers.
- Nicer meal times. She doesn’t eat dog kibble, go on food jags, spit half chewed food on her plate, or stuff food up her nose.
- She can be trusted alone in the bathroom. She doesn’t flush toys, attempt to baptize her brother, or give herself a facial in the toilet. Or turn the taps on and leave the tub to overflow.
- She can be trusted with pets. I don’t have to worry about her pulling a tail, poking her in the eye, or biting the dog.
- We can watch non-animated movies and TV shows together. After years of being constantly inundated with Disney and Pixar, this cannot be appreciated enough.
- Manners. I never have to worry about my teenager announcing bodily functions, telling a stranger that she’s really old, or a man at the store that he stinks.
- Sleeps through the night. Granted, given the chance, she’d probably sleep through half the day too, and waking her up can be a challenge, but she’s not waking me up several times a night, demanding to sleep in my bed.
- No more babysitters needed! Not only does she not need a sitter, but she can babysit her younger siblings! Freedom!
- Shoes. She’s inherited my love of cool boots, and we wear the same size. That means twice as many boots to choose from!
I’m not saying that any teenager, including my own, is perfect. Parenting teens can be challenging, exhausting, and worrying. But at least you can talk to them, laugh with them, and share things with them that you can’t with a younger child.
When all else fails, remembering that you don’t have to go through potty training them again can be an encouragement. After all, you made it through that gong show. You can get through the teen years too.