Toddlers come with an instruction manual…why don’t teenagers?

When I was pregnant with Zach I read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”  When he was born I read “What to Expect the First Year” and “What to Expect the Toddler Years.”  I knew those books backwards and forwards.  They were my bible and I adhered to the advice in nearly every instance.

So now, I have to ask what the hell happened to those sage words of wisdom?  Where the hell did those authors go when I need them the most?  Where are they now that I need a book called “What to Expect The Teenage Years”?

I know the women who wrote those books have to have kids my kids’ ages…just look at the clothing on the pregnant woman form the original “What to Expect” books and you KNOW it has to be from when I had my first kid or before.  Maternity clothes were HORRENDOUS back in 1996 and being pregnant was akin to a fashion death sentence.  So I know the bi-atches who wrote those books HAVE to have teenagers (or waaaaay older kids by now.)  These authors need to be answering some SERIOUS questions I have for them 17 years after I first finished reading “What to Expect when you’re expecting” for the first time….

When I was parenting babies and toddlers it is the most physically exhausting work I ever did as a mom.  It was actually beyond exhausting.  I can remember falling asleep on the floor of Claire’s room one day when I was in the middle of playing with the kids.  All three kids used to love to put make-up on me and I used to use that time to take a little cat-nap.  I was exhausted past the point of exhausted.

Now, it’s a different kind of exhausted.  Now, it’s constantly wondering whether I’m doing the right thing, saying the right thing, and setting a decent example.  Now, it’s contantly second guessing whether I’m doing all of those things well.  I don’t have a manual to get me through this one.  Now, I just have to bull through the exhaustion and hope and pray I’m doing ok.

The other night is when it hit home that I really could use a copy of “What To Expect The Teenage Years.”  The other night, Zach decided to go to see “Catching Fire.”  While I’m all for going to movies, and “Catching Fire” is entirely appropriate, I had a huge problem with the time of the movie.  It started at 9 p.m. on a school night.  Which means he wouldn’t have gotten home until almost midnight ~ on a school night.  Zach and Stan were texting about it when I took matters into my own hands.  I took over texting duties and laid out what would happen if he stayed at the movie.  I listed all of the consequences that would occur if he stayed out past curfew.  Zach laid out his side.  He was already there.  He had purchased his ticket.  He was in the theater and in a seat.  I never said, specifically, he had to come home, but I did say he would be grounded for the weekend, he wouldn’t be able to drive the truck, and so on.  He did the right thing and came home.  But then doubt took over my brain…Zach is a good kid.  Would it really have been so bad to let him stay at the movie?  Would it really have been a travesty to let him stay out until midnight on a school night?   Did I do the right thing?  Was I too heavy handed?  These are the thoughts that plagued me after I sent my texts and Zach agreed to come home. Where, oh where is my copy of “What to Expect The Teenage Years”??

Maybe there’s no “What to Expect…” for teenagers because there are no hard and fast rules.  Maybe teenagers are their own beasts and need to be looked at individually, not as a whole.  Maybe, like life, we just have to take them as they come and try to apply as much common sense as we can to each individual teenager.  Maybe that’s how it has to be, but I still wish I had a manual.

Oh, for the love of my children….

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