We all hear about those teenage years, how our children will leave us, will become crazy, hormonal creatures with sullen expressions and rolling eyes. We will have to fight with them, wait up for them, punish them, dislike them. We will become angry and mystified. We will not understand them. We will suddenly be old, cranky, pain in the ass parents. We will lose our cool overnight.
My eldest son turned 14 last week. His transformation into a teenager has been at times tumultuous and unexpected, and at times sweet and melancholy. His sweet beautiful face and shiny hair made him an angelic looking child, and those same traits have made him a heartthrob now. His voice has become that of man, and cracks less and less. He is tall and has just the slightest European air about him, and he has my dimples. His teachers have warned me that the girls buzz around him like a bee to honey.
I remember being fourteen so well, every last detail. That's probably why I watch him leave the house with an air of wistful (how nauseating), of fear (how useless) and of chagrin (is he kissing his girlfriend?). Even though I probably have always looked like a comfortable, solid mother from the outside, these teenage years are already making me feel like I have absolutely no idea what is right. Am I too permissive? Am I too strict? My son's passage from a life in Italy to a life as an American teenager has been so seamless and effortless that I wonder what exactly it is I am supposed to do. I know my son has good judgement, has his feet on the ground, but the world which once consisted of home, school, family vacations and grandma's house has suddenly become overwhelmingly huge. I was raised with so much freedom that I wonder how my parents slept at night.
How can I be the parent? The one who has the answers, the rules, the knowledge?
I think it takes faith... some kind of faith. I remember the years with my small children only eighteen months apart, dreaming of a moment for myself, a longing for quiet. And now, in the meantime, I feel so lucky to still get kisses on the cheek and sweet words from my beautiful son. And I cling to my twelve year old... I hug and cuddle him until he tells me to stop.
Who would have thought?