We hear a great deal about the tween years, those ages between approximately 9 and 12 years old, but I've discovered that there are the adult tween years of 16-18 can be difficult to deal with, too. It seems like overnight my oldest daughter is on the brink of being an adult, but with all the good and bad of being a teen. It's not easy being a parent, especially one of an almost adult.
Driving me crazy. She recently got her driver's license, which is an exciting and wonderful time in a teen's life. But it is driving me crazy. She is a good driver, of course inexperienced but good. While the state may say she is ready for the road, the mother in me cringes every time I hear "Can I take the car?" Sure, it sounds good in theory; now there is help running the errands, but on days like today, when the thunder rolls and the storms settles in that I bite my nails and pray she comes home safely.
Evaluating employment. "Mom, I need to get a job." Most parents would love to hear these words and I am proud to hear her consider her finances and her future. But what about homework and sports, how can she handle it all? After all I'm an adult and I can barely keep up with her schedule. The only thing I can do is give her encouragement to find a job that will work for her and her busy schedule.
Really responsible. I left the house for a few hours and came back to find it cleaned. I got involved in my work and looked up to see it was dinner time, but dinner was cooked. For all of these things I am truly grateful. But sometimes it's difficult to give up on being the one in charge of everything to find it already done, quite often better (or just different) from how I would do it.
Suffering setbacks. Just when all these wonderful responsible things happen in our relationship, the talking and sharing and exploring adult conversations, topics and responsibilities there comes the setbacks. Each day brings with it the possibility of fighting friends, boy, oh the boys and the constant social stream that turns into a tidal wave at times. Stomping up the stairs, slamming of doors and "I never want to talk to him/her again" fills the hallway. Do I go upstairs and risk the "Mom, I'm not a baby!" or does she really need comfort? Is this another tiff that makes a fit and blows over in days or is this something mom needs to be concerned about? When in doubt I decide to fall upon the holy grail of motherhood and comfort first, ask questions later and risk the wrath of a teen who wants to figure it out on her own.
Don't misunderstand me. It's me, not her, and I bet you didn't expect to hear that from a parent; did you? She is being responsible, careful, thoughtful and respectful even when stretching the limits. She is exploring her independence. She is learning about relationships and responsibilities. No, she isn't perfect. There are still the rolling of the eyes and the "Mom!" the way only a teen can, but dealing with the adult tween years is maybe more about dealing with my own hopes and fears than hers.
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