Monday, September 27, 2010

Break in the Story

When children are small, and parenting encompasses most of life, we share anecdotes about our children.

The good ones:

"Joey took his first steps today!"

"Maggie wrote her name in cursive!"

And the bad ones:

"Bobby pooped his diaper and smeared it all over the walls!"

"Jane cussed out the lady at the post office!"

We smile and nod, sharing all of these triumphs and horrors as parents. Much of our conversation and validation centers around knowing that our child is "normal", and that there is hope for them and for us. We care nothing, really, for their privacy, because we feel like we are not talking about their lives, but ours. They are an extension of us, they are our lives. Or, at least, the work of our lives.

And then something weird happens when they become teenagers. Suddenly, we can't share all of their doings and goings-on. Somehow we have handed over to them their lives and we are just in this strange peripheral orbit around them, desperately trying to keep them in balance, or from colliding into everyone else in the system. Now, the events of their lives are theirs to tell, not ours. Now we embarrass them, or we violate their privacy. We interfere.

Which sort of stinks, because now? Now the stories get really good. And more than ever, some validation would be great.

Oh, man. How come all my best material is off-limits?


Andrea said...

haha. Wish you could share too. sounds like you have some good stories.

Stephanie Humphreys said...

My kids have hit the same stage. Anything they do or say now is off limits, but they give me so much good material. I guess now I just have to hold out for grandkids now.

J9 said...

Oh Jenna, I read your blog posts and feel like we would totally connect in real life! (which is weird, I know, since I stumbled upon your blog on blogher and you don't even know me....I promise I am not some psycho though!) Anyway, so many of your posts about teenagers have really hit home with me as I feel all alone struggling with my teenagers. My soon to be 17 yr. old daughter has been taking me on a ride for the last 4 years that is totally out of my control and includes pit stops in places where I never thought I would stop! But it is, indeed HER ride and HER role is to be there to help her pick up the pieces every time she crashes and support her as she learns some difficult lessons. Unfortunately she is one of those teenagers that can't learn from the examples of others; she learns by experiencing and doing. And that is the hardest kind of teenager if you ask me! I can promise you this: I could share some great stories too, and you ARE normal! :)

Lara Neves said...

It's happening to me already with 7 and 9 year olds.

They would kill me if I shared half of the things they do, and my 9 year old will say, "this is okay to tell people or post on your blog, mom" if she doesn't mind. So nice of her. :)

Luisa Perkins said...

I wish we could talk!

Cynthia said...

What a great post! I am seeing it already and my oldest (twins) are 10. My son has FORBIDDEN me to mention anything about him unless I let him read it first and approve it. Every so often, he'll do something then say, "You can blog about that, Mom". I have no doubt I'm headed for the same place you are!

Might I suggest an anon message board? I participate in one and it's a good place to get feedback etc. from others without jeopardizing their privacy and our relationships.

YogaNana said...

Before the World Wide Web, mothers talked it out with one another on the phone while the kids were at school.

Heh heh heh.