The Jungle Called ‘Teenagedom’

How did I get to the middle without realizing I was on the edge?

How did I enter this quagmire of parenting a teen without realizing what I was headed towards?  Did I miss the signs?  Is it like the odd time I missed using a box of hand me down clothes because my kid had outgrown them by the time I realized it?

Will the teen years be the same? Will we be through these years before I realize it?

Some days I notice this gorgeous, lush, exotic jungle we’re living in – that of ‘teenagedom’.  On those days I adore the perspective that living with and parenting a teen brings.  The preening of feathers and the bright colours.  The brand new awareness of self, of body, of the world, of peers.

Other days all I can see is the quicksand that is sucking me down and threatening to engulf me.  On these days the Attitude (with a capital ‘A’) and the sense that this teen (though he’s technically 12) knows more than his parents, leaves me gasping.  I get whiplash from watching him veer from one extreme emotion to the next.

Some days I vaguely recognize the jungle path we’re traveling, having been here some time ago.  Other days, as a bird of a different gender, nothing is familiar and little makes sense.

Mostly though it’s the overall jungle, with all its lushness, full of promise and verdant growth and surprises that keeps life interesting and keeps me on my toes.

I’m in the middle of that jungle now, with no clear recollection of how I got here.

What have you arrived in the middle of without realizing how you got there?


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4 Responses to “The Jungle Called ‘Teenagedom’”

  1. Colleen Kelly Says:
    January 28th, 2010 at 8:34 am

    Ahhh Lee-Anne, I really enjoyed those years. We had 4 teenagers (and, yes, they were all in our house at the same time) and it truly was great fun. Incredible learning. That’s when I had a chance to learn how to coach, rather than teach; ask questions rather than give answers; learn that “why?” is really a 4-letter word. There is a recently released book entitled “Motherhood is the New MBA” – and although I haven’t read it, I absolutely subscribe to the theory that motherhood is where I learned a lot about how to work effectively with people. The scars I earned with teenagers have served me well in the work world.

  2. Lee-Anne Ragan Says:
    January 28th, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Hi Colleen; great comments. Thanks for taking the time to share. I’m impressed that you survived living with 4 teens at the same time. While the challenges are great, so is the learning. Love your comment about how transferable the learning from parenting is and that ‘why’ is a four letter word. The latter makes me think of “The Resilience Factor: 7 keys to finding your inner strength and overcoming life’s hurdles, by Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatte”. They talk about the abc couplets; where our actions are based on beliefs that result in consequences. Great stuff. You can read a review of their book I did here if you like. Your comment about scars serving you well reminded me of Jane Hirshfield’s “For What Binds Us” ….”see how the flesh brows back across a wound, with a great vehemence, more strong than the simple, untested surface before. There’s a name for it on horses, when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh, as all flesh is proud of its owners, wears them as honours given out after battle, small triumpsh pinned to the chest.” Here’s to proud flesh!

  3. Miami Computers Says:
    March 19th, 2010 at 6:47 am

    I am new to parenting. My sister moved on to a better place a couple of months back and since my nephew has never meet his real father, he wanted to live with me. It was not hard to say, yes. He is blood and I love the kid. I’m in search of everything I can find on the internet about raising a child because I want to be the best uncle a kid can have so, thank you for the blog post and now I must move on to the next one.

  4. Lee-Anne Ragan Says:
    March 19th, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Thanks for sharing your moving decision. Your nephew is a lucky guy. Good luck with the wild ride of parenting / ‘uncle-ing’. I’d welcome more comments from you; let me know how it’s going. Cheers to you and your new role.

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