The teenage years are the worst. No, seriously, they are pretty bad. Maybe not as bad as stepping on a Lego, but darn close. Of course, I can’t speak for all teenagers, but let me share how I came to this conclusion about my teens.
Yes, I said it. Teenagers smell . . . and not in a good way. I will take the nose-burning stench of a baby’s two-end blowout to a musty teenager any day.
I understand it’s not entirely their fault. Body odor is just their hormonal changes due to puberty. A totally normal part of growing up and being a teenager. I get it.
What I don’t get is how they seem to enjoy basking in their ripeness. First, why are they okay with walking around smelling like an armpit in one thousand-degree weather? Also, why are they okay with their room smelling like a durian and rotten egg smoothie left in the Lobo’s locker room? And it’s not like they’re little where you can toss them into a tub full of bubbles. (But they can wipe their own butt, so that’s a plus.) This brings me to my second point. They’re not little anymore.
They’re Too Cool for Mom
I was my kids’ superhero when they were little. (I was a close second to Batman and Wonder Woman, but it still totally counts.) My son wanted to marry me. My daughters wanted to mimic everything I said, did, and wore. And why wouldn’t they? Mom is awesome!
Then, just like that, a switch flipped. Welcome to the teenage years. Now they’re smelly, and everything mom says, does, and wears is cringy.
When did it become uncool to hug your mom in public? Or to hold her hand?! Their little pudgy, sticky hand that used to slide into mine is now preoccupied with a cell phone– probably texting their friend about how I (gasp) tried to hold their hand.
Okay, so I can kind of get over my teens not wanting to hold my hand. I mean, I don’t want to hold their hand anyway. (I’m in denial. Secretly, I really do.) But I draw the line at them insisting I drop them off a block away from school. I mean, come on. What kid doesn’t want their mom hanging out the car window, enthusiastically waving while yelling, “Have a good day!”? Apparently a too-cool-for-mom kid. Do you know what’s not cool though? Their attitudes.
Teens Have Crappy Attitudes
I silently laugh whenever I hear parents say the hardest phase of childhood is the terrible twos or threenager years. True, those can be difficult times. However, those challenges are coming from a sweet-smelling, handholding, hug-giving kid that, at the end of the day, still thinks you are awesome. (And not just because you are the keeper of the snacks.)
Little kids are still snips and snails and puppy dog tails, sugar and spice and everything nice. Enter the teenage years where it’s crude and rude and stank attitudes. They are moody, apathetic, and dismissive. Oh, and they are know-it-alls that have mastered the loud sigh and eye roll.
Cheerily greet them with: “Good morning!”
Teen’s response: Loud sigh and eye roll.
Inquire: “How was school?”
Teen’s response: Loud sigh and eye roll.
Would it kill them to have an actual conversation? Preferably one that doesn’t involve asking for money, informing me we’re out of snacks, or how my outfit is cringy. (Insert my own loud sigh and eye roll.)
It’s not all loud sighs and eye rolls though. Occasionally, they toss in a low groan. They typically reserve this skill to communicate their dissatisfaction with some decision I’ve made, usually one involving chores. (Gasp! How dare I expect them to do chores? What with their busy schedule of texting, eating, sleeping, and eye-rolling.)
But, There Are Some Positives
These reasons, all normal and a common part of a teenager’s growth and development, can be stressful for everyone involved. However, I’m not saying it’s all bad. There are plenty of advantages and great moments parents experience during their child’s teen years.
For example, they are less dependent on us. Did I mention how they wipe their own butts? No more announcements from the bathroom of, “Mom! I’m done.” They can also be left alone for several hours at a time. You can go out and enjoy a kid-free meal that doesn’t consist of nugget-shaped food or dancing animals.
They also have a more sophisticated sense of humor. Fart jokes will almost always elicit uncontrollable laughter, but they can also appreciate satire, irony, and witty wordplay. And, they can engage in mature conversations. (That is when they’re not consumed with their phone and giving you the loud sigh and eye roll).
There you have it. Why I think the teenage years are the worst. Well, they’re not the absolute worst. They’re not like stepping on a Lego.
Originally published September 2021.
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