It is not their careless muddying of our furniture, their respectively newly grown stubble or suddenly buxom silhouettes, or even their leftover piles of dishes that gives away the identities of my sons and daughters. Rather, it is their less-than-subtle moments.
“I need to buy something new to wear, NOW!”
“I can’t possible be expected to complete my chores given everything.”
“NO!” (locks bedroom door after slamming it twice).
When parenting adolescents, it’s insufficient for me to succeed at meeting publishers’ deadlines, being nice to my husband, finding lost socks, and being able to masquerade leftovers. I need, as well, to become part psychologist, part bench couch, part judge and jury, and part greeting card. Youth, if nothing else, is as sensitive as newly fallen snow in April.
I ignore the claims of empty tummies; the kids know how to microwave, to fry, and even to cook from scratch.
I ignore the entreaties to hand over more cash for clothes. Babysitting jobs and the like can cover what allowance misses. Even if I were rich, I would not feel compelled to arbitrarily pass out money.
Per the chores, I realize it’s hunger and midterm test pressure, in tandem, not my innocent child, talking. While the first one stirs some leftovers in the wok, I talk to the third one. We plot some time management strategies and discuss means to vent anxieties.
As for the one who has regressed to tantruming, I wait until she: reappears, eats something, and spends an hour or two talking on the phone to friends. Only then do I address her behavior.
Once my kids’ hunger has been temporarily abated (the boys can chow as often as every forty-five minutes during growth spurts), their chores and homework sorted out, and our house’s rules for decorum reviewed, I give kisses and retreat to my office. From the safety of my keyboard, I document, with much loving gratitude, the growth, through puberty, of my children.