Ah, thirteen, that magical age that most parents dread. And with good reason – the teen years are notorious for being way worse than the terrible two or troublesome threes ever dreamed of being. My teen years were every bit as dramatic as any soap opera, and I’m sure everyone can relate.
An avid diarist, I read back through some of them once some years ago and realized that a.) as a teen, I was truly awful and b.) if my kids are anything like me, my uppance will come. All my teenage entries were generally some sort of variation on the theme, “Blah blah blah my life is awful blah blah blah everything sucks blah blah blah no one likes me blah blah blah I am undateable blah blah blah my life is over.”
Naturally, being a teenager, there was a whole lot more swearing in there. There were even some pictures cut out of magazines and taped in for posterity and late-night drooling. There were also the requisite doodles of hearts and boys’ names.
Not all of this drama was of my own making, however. While it’s true that my teen years started off with a bang, they also ended with a bang, and both bangs were somewhat at my dad’s expense. See, to start off with, I got my period, something I’m sure will make all the fathers out there groan in dread (at least, it makes Seymour groan in dread as Tadpole creeps ever closer to Teen Town herself – every time I half-jokingly say that if I didn’t know better, I’d think she was PMSing, he insists that that’s not funny).
I was at school when it happened, thank goodness, so both my dad and I were spared the embarrassment of his having to help me through that. Also, having been through two sex ed classes by then, I thankfully had some idea of what was happening, so I was slightly less alarmed when it actually happened than I might have been otherwise. But only slightly.
My wonderful guidance counselor got me all squared away and sent me back to class and when I got home, I told my dad what happened. It was his custom to spend large chunks of time sitting out on the porch watching people go by, although in our neighborhood, the only people who really went by were the neighbor kids as they left our house to return to theirs and the guy who lived down the street from us and worked at Pioneer (which was right across the street from our house). Nevertheless, Daddy sat out there to people-watch, and the front porch is where I got the talk.
You know which one I’m talking about.
He sat there with his arms on his knees and his hands half-folded in front of him and stared off in the direction of the neighbors’ house. For a long time, he said nothing. When he finally spoke, though, he said, “You keep your pants up till you get married. But if you get into trouble, don’t go do something stupid. Just come home and we’ll figure something out.”
When I unexpectedly got pregnant at 19, he was the only one I wasn’t afraid to tell. All he said was, “Well, I tried to teach ya to keep yer pants up till ya got married, but ya didn’t listen, didja?”
The bang that closed out my thirteenth year was rather less expected. After my mom died, my dad hit the bottle pretty hard and when I was 13, he suffered a stroke. The doctors thought it was because he drank so heavily for so long and then stopped suddenly. It was pretty serious, but fortunately for him, I was home at the time (I was a goody-two-shoes) and able to get help for him right away. He eventually made a full recovery and spent some time in a rehab facility, too, so I spent the rest of the year living with my aunt and uncle in the next town over.
My guidance counselor, the wonderful lady who helped me out with my first female experience and whose nap was interrupted during sixth grade camp, lived in the same town and was kind enough to let me ride to school and back with her every day so that I could stay in the same school district for the rest of the year. It was a hard year for me, going from the relative freedom I’d been used to to living under someone else’s rules, and I know I didn’t make it easy on my aunt and uncle, either.
But I strongly suspect my kids will more than make up for any gray hairs I may have given my relatives. And I have four of them to survive.
(c) 2012. All rights reserved.
11 thoughts on “Entering Teen Town”
The trials and tribs. My daughter is almost eighteen and having seen everything there is to seen and knowing all there is to know, I wait fearfully every day for something new to happen. Like today when her car broke down right in the centre of a busy intersection. So why couldn’t I fix it over the phone? I suppose I’m just an awful dad.
If it makes you feel any better, we’ve been told we’re awful parents for not paying for our kids’ college education. Meanwhile, they’ll appreciate it more if it’s not handed to them on a silver platter. But evidently that’s a bad thing.
It might be better all round if we (the parents) just wandered off into the wildness to die – though after leaving our wallets behind.
I suppose. Then when they get in so far over their heads that they have to come crawling back and beg us to fix it, we can say, “I told you so!” and call it a day.
My beloved daughter has hinted at such things, but doesn’t want me to go too far away; just to let her do anything her fevered imagination will allow, but still have back-up in case it all goes pear-shaped..
When I told my mom I’d got my first period, she looked at me and said, “You’re kidding.” Like I’d joke about that! I was very embarrassed. I didn’t get the lecture on morals, though; mom was too shocked that her youngest was growing up.
I really don’t know what my dad thought of it all. I have an older sister, but she had her mom to ask about that sort of thing, so I was maybe his first girl to come home and say, “Hey, Dad, guess what?”
I’m not sure I even knew that about your living with your aunt and uncle that year. But I guess as teenagers we’re always wrapped up in our own lives, even if our lives are totally vanilla. You definitely had some rough years around this time. *hug*
I think the word teenager can safely be classified as a synonym for self-absorbed, no matter how much we might disagree with that assessment at the time. But then, there was always the next dance to think about, wasn’t there?
I suppose when you look at it that way, our lives really aren’t so different from Lizzie Bennet’s? 🙂
My 15 years old niece just spent $350.00 for a homecoming dance — two weeks ago she came over and wanted me to take her to the big store so she could buy curtains for her bedroom.– I asked her if she had any money — and she says “let me go call my dad!” — I told her I did not have any money.
She goes off and then comes back — and she states “Get Dressed and lets go” — and I told I did not feel like getting dressed to go. She gets mad and as she was going out the door she tells me “You are Lazy!” I emailed her and told her I did not cater to witches with no money and that I am not lazy — just no money. You don’t go to a store without having money ( :
Do you think I was harsh on her?
No, I don’t think so at all! I wouldn’t have had the nerve to talk to anyone like that as a teenager. Heck, I wouldn’t have the nerve to talk to anyone like that now!
Our oldest two kids are ridiculously spoiled. We spend a lot of time playing bad cop to our respective exes’ good cop. They’re the fun parents and we get stuck being the old fuddy-duddies who insist that our kids learn responsibility by having chores and no, they don’t need to be paid to do them. Oh, and they should pay for their own college, too, because we can’t afford to pay for it for them and they’ll appreciate it more that way anyway. But then, we’re old school like that.
I discipline my kids because I love them, whether they think so or not.