Lately we have been ‘practice parenting’ on some teenagers. Don’t worry, we don’t just go borrow them from random street corners, they are volunteering for the position as long as I keep the cheeseballs flowing. I have been a babysitter and nanny since I was old enough to not need a babysitter of my own so these kiddos have all been around me as long as they can remember. They were also taught by their mother at a very early age that ‘Carynn will spank you just like I will spank you’. Even though it was totally a bluff, they keep in line for the most part : )
So with the several slumber parties we’ve had in the last few months I have learned some things about teenagers. I thought I knew a lot but here are some of the newly acquired tidbits:
1. They want to sit very close together, often with limbs draped on each other. For everyone that knows my personal space bubble limitations, you may be worried. At first I was too but I’ve found that when a kid, even a 140 lb. teenager, wants to cuddle, you do it. You will not mind the sweat, the weight or the feeling you’re being suffocated.
2. They will not stop eating. Ever. And they will never gain a pound from it. You will hate them for that. Also, they aren’t as picky as you may think and will try new things. Just because they say they don’t like green beans doesn’t mean they won’t like YOUR green beans. And just because their mom hates fish and they have never had seafood, it doesn’t mean they won’t like shrimp. Branch out and feel free to tell them the calamari is onion rings. They won’t know any different : )
3. When they pout as a teenager, you will have to try really hard not to laugh at their fake problems. Teenagers, at least all the ones I know, are good about letting me know what they want, what they are upset about and why their life was ruined because BFF is dating the boy they like.* As long as I don’t try to fix the problem, which can be very hard sometimes, they will talk my ear off about things they would not tell their peers. I’m learning to listen without interjecting and to ask questions that lead them to the epiphany I so badly want to give them. Example: ‘Well why do you think he did that to you?’ or ‘Is that her way of telling you something else you think?’ Also, don’t tell them I know any of this or my Cool Card will totally be taken away.
4. They aren’t always ignoring YOU, they are ignoring the whole world. Get in the game and ignore everything else for a while too! Don’t make them ask you twice to play Mario or Guitar Hero even if you’re bad. They will appreciate you playing with them instead of trying to pry them away from it. Same goes with having an Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Vine, etc. account. Make an account and learn the basics so you can post every once in a while (giving you cool points) and you’re not as obvious when stalking. If you’re logging on to do your own thing then seeing what they are up to doesn’t seem so sketch.
5. Loosen up. Even though I’ve always been the ‘Cool Aunt’ type of person to them, I find myself getting a little high-strung about dinner-time and making sure they stay alive. Its a woman/soon-to-be-mom thing I think. I’m going with the flow and even getting a little goofy with them at some points. My poor husband is totally going to want to pull my hair out at times but its worth it. I am carpe-ing the heck out of the diems I get to share with them. I try to make sure they know I love them and think about them when they go off back to their real lives. Oh, and on their birthdays. DEFINITELY on their birthdays.
*Totally hypothetical situation. If she thinks I told the world this was an actual problem I would never see her again, I’m sure.