It all began because Ryan Gosling won’t eat his cereal.
My teenage daughter and I were on Facebook together, watching the video with tears practically streaming down our faces, appreciating just how much Gosling hates every spoonful of yummy morning goodness.
It was this moment, just a few weeks ago, when it dawned on me.
I absolutely adore having teens.
In that moment, I was struck by our shared — and might I add, awesomely random yet somewhat mature — sense of humor. Because it didn’t feel like too long ago when she was laughing about the inane antics of Clifford the Big Red Dog and that turd of a purple poodle who constantly lures him into trouble. Instead, on that day, she was laughing at this random Ryan Gosling video I had found online.
Now granted, I have two teens (a 13-year-old daughter and a 16-year-old son), but I also have — wait for it — a toddler.
Yup. Toddler: A word which roughly translates to “tiny douchebag” in some languages. (Lucky for me, mine is not at all an asshole. Ever.)
So there just may be validity in the idea that I appreciate my teens even more because they don’t utter the words “I have to go potty!” (followed by absolutely no pottying — not even a trickle — EVER!) every hour, practically on the hour.
But it’s more than that.
I remember when my children (the olders) were far younger, and people would inquire, “What’s your favorite age?” — and I would always, no matter when it was asked, respond: “Right now.”
It has never changed.
I love watching my children grow older. I love watching them learn, and adapt to their surroundings, and fight for what’s important, and acquire their own tastes and personalities, and become these amazing contributing members of society.
So today — this day, to be exact: October 21, 2015 — is my favorite time of my children’s lives.
But guess what? Undoubtedly, tomorrow will be my favorite, too. And the next day. And the next day.
So in honor of parenting teens, here, in no particular order, are the 25 best underrated moments when you are a parent of teens.
They may seem somewhat commonplace or uninspiring. But guess what? I appreciate every single one of them.
- Getting a phone call during which they never once mention a “loan” or a “favor” of any kind.
- Being tagged in an Instagram post.
- When they ask you for a recipe — or better yet, they ask you to show them again how to make it.
- Interesting, engaging dinnertime conversation. Even if it’s about friend drama or shitty teachers or annoying things that happened during a day.
- When they talk to you about who they’re interested in — without you having to pry.
- An alert from Infinite Campus about an “A” grade received on a test or major project.
- When you take them to dinner, notice someone staring in your general direction, and then that person stops at the table to tell you how well-mannered your teens are.
- When they want to introduce you to a show on Netflix (especially when that show is New Girl, and especially when the explanation from my son is, “Zooey Deschanel’s character totally reminds me of you — except you’re not all obsessed with sex!” To which I responded, much to his chagrin: “That you know of…”)
- When they wake up on their own, with their own alarms, without the need for wet washcloths thrown on the face or trumpets playing Taps in their ear.
- When they offer to mow the lawn/run to the store/do a household project/get you a Diet Coke.
- When they tell you, unsolicited, how much they love and/or appreciate their siblings.
- Any time they begin a sentence with the words, “You may have been right about…”
- When they introduce you to their new favorite song. Even if it sucks.
- A “thank you” that is unexpected.
- A kiss/fist bump/hug that is unexpected.
- When they’re the first to remind you of a tradition — like “ghoul”ash for Halloween dinner, or Christmas Lights in Hidden Valley, or “Best and Worst Part of the Day” at dinnertime.
- When you read something they’re written about you — via text, social media or otherwise — that doesn’t make you sound like a total freak of a parent.
- When they say something that shows they’re open-minded and open-hearted.
- When borrowed money comes back without a reminder.
- When you hear them arguing for justice on behalf of a social cause/gender equity/people’s rights/friend.
- Text messages that just say “I love you” and/or “How are you?” Even if they’re in Spanish.
- When they grammatically correct something in your presence.
- When they request a selfie with you.
- Coffee dates (even if they lament, “Oh come ON, Mom…” when you insist on the half-caf varieties).
- When they do or say something that gives you a glimpse into who they’ll be as a functioning, thriving, spectacular adult.
I could go on. And on. And on.
But instead, perhaps I’ll let you: If you’re the parent of a teen, please add to the list. Leave a comment below and share your favorite underrated moment as the parent of a teen.
Because the fact remains: raising teenagers is hard work — but there are abundant moments to celebrate. Especially when you consider how much more fun/rewarding it is than raising seemingly unhappy, ungrateful, miniature people who don’t appreciate a good meal or a good toilet.*
Not that she’s one of them.
Nope. Not at all.
*Just FYI: If asked, I would note that today also happens to be my favorite age ever for my toddler. And tomorrow. And the day after that. But ESPECIALLY the day she learns how to use the potty.