Underneath the seemingly impenetrable teenage armour, a needy little human lies Dormant
They need us when they’re babies.
They need the comfort and security of our physical selves. They need to be told that Santa has presents for them if they’ve been good, and that the tooth fairy can carry enough gold coins in its pockets to cater for a whole city of toothless kids.
They need us to tuck them in tight so that the monsters don’t come, and they need us to cheer and cheer to an embarrassing level when they sprint down the 80 m grass running track at the school sports day. They need us to take their temperature and feed them ice cream when they’re sick, and they need us to carry them inside and put them to bed when they fall asleep in the car after a big night out.
They need us to wash their dirty little bodies, and ensure they brush away the 10 packets of wiz fizz they snuck in when you weren’t looking. We brag about them on social media and they don’t even care, and we catch up with their mums and compare teachers and reading levels. We truly believe they are amazingly motivated, special little humans that will never change.
And then one day they do…and then somehow, we feel we need THEM.
We need the comfort and security of seeing them lying safely in their beds and not walking the streets somewhere unhappy.
A hug might be asking a bit much, but we need them to at least make an effort to say goodnight so we feel like they remember who we are.
We need them to at least pretend they enjoy Christmas for more than the 5 minutes that they’ve unwrapped a new phone, or some type of device that will take them away from us again.
We need them to not be indifferent to our presence at sports days, and care just enough to at least tell us how they went. We need them to look over at us and wave with a smile, so we remember we are still their parent.
We need them to turn off their computer and say “Should we all do something together?”
To them, we are the person that feeds them, the taxi, the bank, the one who demands they tidy their room and the one who appears to be placed on this earth solely to ruin all their fun.
We need them to do their chores without having to literally put a bomb underneath their backsides every-single- time. They’re not naughty, just oblivious.
We need them to open their mouths and spit out some words that resemble a conversation, so that we can get to know the person they are becoming before they become it.
We are more careful on social media not to offend their sensitive little souls and we try not to like their posts in fear of embarrassing them.
We haven’t seen their mums for years and are not entirely sure who their teachers even are.
We are required to learn a new language by the name of ‘Grunt’ if we have any hope of communicating.
We attempt to feed them but the fridge always seems to be empty as they happily demolish everything you only bought 5 minutes ago…so we run away, again…to the supermarket only to be told when we return that they are “very sorry mum but I drank all the milk when you were out”
We need them to use the manners we spent so many years teaching them just so we know something sank in after all that energy spent, and then they forget, and we almost die in disbelief.
They don’t need us anymore…it would seem.
But they still do though don’t they?
They need us to keep going to their sports days even though they pretend they don’t want us there…because when they’re 40, they’ll wonder why we stopped.
They need us to pretend that Santa still exists and the Tooth fairy is alive and well, and that the Easter bunny is as present as ever-even if they’re 15 and too grown up for it..because if we don’t do it, nobody will, and all connection with their childhood magic will be gone from their lives. They need to see us sneaking around hiding eggs and putting out carrots even if they are clueless as to why we still do it, so that they know we are still in the game with them. So they look back when they’re older and say…”I remember when..”
They need us to continue bragging about them because it makes them feel strong and valued and confident and loved for who they are- The’ll squirm and whinge, but their strength of character will flourish.
We must keep buying them food. They are starving teenagers who will eat their way through all of our food plans for the week, and force us to drive the country side to feed them more and more. They will still claim they are the most underfed beings on the planet. They love us because we feed them, but they won’t realise that, until they are one day stuck doing it themselves.
We need them to bond with us, but their definition of bonding and ours are totally different, so we both end up feeling we’re on different train tracks. This is when learning ‘grunt’ proves very helpful.
Their rapid desire for independence makes it feel as if we are the last person they want to spend their time with, but we have to remember they are locked inside a suit of teenage armour, that we as parents will struggle to penetrate, and they as teenagers will struggle to free themselves from.
To them, we are a weird, old person, with no idea about life.
Their rejection is a game they don’t even know they are playing. A red herring, a trap, to see if we’re sticking around.
Our biggest mistake?
Assuming they need us less and withdrawing our attentions.
In actual fact, whether a baby or a teenager,
“…they need the comfort and security of your physical self. They need to be told that Santa has presents for them if they’ve been good, and that the tooth fairy can carry enough gold coins in its pockets to cater for a whole city of toothless kids.
They need you to tuck them in tight so that the monsters don’t come, and they need you to cheer and cheer to an embarrassing level when they sprint down the track at school sports day-They will remember your support of them.
They need you to take their temperature and feed them ice cream when they’re sick, and they need you to look after them when they’re over tired, and a totally disgusting, grumpy grot, after a big weekend out…”
Baby…Teenager? Not that different really, when one thinks about it.