I’m Going to Have a Teenager for the Next 15 Years

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I'm Going to Have a Teenager for the Next 15 Years

Having a math teacher as a husband can have its definite advantages; I’m never expected to help with 7th grade math homework, for example. (In fact, because math has changed so much since we were in school, I’m pretty much not allowed to help them for fear I might confuse them.)

But it has disadvantages, too. Like when my husband mentioned on the cusp of our oldest child’s 13th birthday two weeks ago that it was the last night we wouldn’t have a teenager FOR THE NEXT FIFTEEN YEARS.

With four kids spread eight years apart…it’s true. We’ve signed up to live in Teenager Land for a long time. I’ve received various responses to this news, from “Oh dear, I will pray for you,” to “I’m sorry,” to “Yay, teenagers are so fun!” Even as we start to travel this path, I can see both sides.

I’m a little scared. So many hormones, bullies, driving lessons, college applications, sleepovers. Fighting about cell phones and screen time and curfews and friend groups and clothes. Having the influence of three older siblings, my youngest child is so sassy at five, I’m pretty nervous what she might be like at 13 or 16.

But it’s also exciting and fun.

I get to see what these four humans become as they grow up. For their tenth birthdays, we’ve let our kids decide where they want to go on a trip alone with both Mom and Dad. It certainly gives us a glimpse into their passions and maybe even futures. (Our oldest wanted to go to New York City and see Broadway shows; our second is going with us to the Kennedy Space Center this winter after a year of putting off travel.)

It’s wild how different four kids who came from the same parents and family can be! It’s so amazing to see their varied passions and what they do with them. We have a musical theater star, a singer who loves playing multiple instruments, a hilariously funny taekwondo artist, and a super dramatic and outgoing tiny dancer. Of course, those are only pieces of them, pieces that keep twisting and changing into different little puzzles.

When we hang out, it’s not the same kind of fun we used to have…I actually have fun, too, and not just from watching their happiness. My 13- and 10-year-olds can play complex board games, carry interesting conversations, go shopping, and we have TV shows we are both actually interested in. (High School Musical: the Musical: the Series; my daughter and I are both obsessed.) As they get older I can only imagine how much more we will have in common.

I get to see them find and keep friends that they will love their whole lives. It’s such a delight when you watch your child maintain a sweet, devoted friendship and you can love your kid’s friend, too. I’m anticipating years when we can actually go on vacations where I don’t worry about anyone drowning or jumping off the side of a cliff…and maybe even sleeping past 7am. I know it won’t be sunshine and roses all the time. But that’s certainly not the case with little kids, either. I feel like I’m ready to take some deep breaths and tackle this next phase. (And if I get too frustrated, I still have a cute little five-year-old daughter and baby niece to cuddle and kiss.)

Do you have any advice as we enter this 15-year phase?

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