Parenting teenagers might be killing me

NPR recently did a news story about stress and the toll it takes on a person’s health. What causes high levels of hazardous stress? According to the NPR study: disabilities, chronic illness, extreme poverty…and parenting teenagers.

You heard me. Herpes and raising teens. Similar in more ways than one.

Add in some serious traffic problems around town and I cannot believe more of us aren’t alcoholics.

The sheer process of getting them up every morning, debating the right amount of cologne vs. asphyxiation, then arguing about why they all of a sudden don’t like fruit – turns out, might be killing me.

This isn’t a surprise to most parents; if you have a teenager, you also probably have a sneaking suspicion that he or she is bad for your health. I knew this when choosing a hectic morning to lecture about the importance of sunblock while backing out of my driveway, running right into my husband’s car.

That I am obviously no longer able to multi-task could be blamed on middle age, but then I heard that NPR story and decided motherhood was the real culprit.

It makes sense.

Two adorable little boys, with soft cheeks, and a permanent adoring gaze have turned into eye-rolling, opinionated, hair-under-the-armpit, fart-joke-loving teenagers.

Do you remember teenage boys from your own youth? Exactly. I didn’t like teenagers when I was one of them. Imagine how I feel now.

I can’t really complain about Jacob and Zachary to anyone I know because the response is always the same: They are better than you were at their age.

Okay, fine. They are not shaving their heads. They are not circulating petitions at summer camp against…camping. And they are not getting kicked out of Showbiz Pizza for smoking clove cigarettes.

But they are still teenagers, and starting high school. Isn’t it only going to get worse? I thought it might be fun to write down my biggest stress factors, and check back in four years to see what was silly and what was real.

Here we go.

Girls, Girls and More Girls. My kids went to an IB middle school where female students were almost all of Asian and Indian descent. Those girls weren’t allowed to talk to boys online, much less socialize with them in person. When Jake attended his high school tour, he came home and announced, “All the girls are blonde and hot.” I looked around my house and immediately thought, “I’m going to need more wine.”

Snob Alert. Their high school is in an affluent part of town. There will be no thug element. However, there will be an entitled, I have more money than God and no supervision, element. I went to high school with kids like that and called them The Less Than Zero Crowd. I hope my boys fight the urge to conform and instead go the other way, like I did. Even if that means shaving their heads.

…a mom can dream.

Drugs. I stayed away from hard drugs, mostly because I just knew I’d be the one to overdose, which would kill both my mother and any chance I’d ever have to get a school named after me someday.

So, when raising my children, I’ve put guilt and manipulation to good use, too. Here’s hoping it works as well with them.

Young Republicans. I have these nightmares where my kids join up senior year and then apply to business school.

My stepdad and cousins would be thrilled.

I can feel my blood pressure rising and happy hour is still a few hours away, so I’m going to stop here. I hope my younger adult readers consider the options and choose birth control.

However, it might not be all bad.

The other day, Jacob was watching Fox News. I stopped and stared. What fresh hell was this? Then he muttered, “Man…I hate people” and switched the channel. The next day, Zachary asked if I’d be interested in hearing his favorite new song. I said yes and waited for dubstep to attack. It was “Sweet Sixteen” by BB King.


There’s hope for them yet.