Barely Insane

Its the safest frame of mind in the world today

Terrible Two’s are a practice run for raising teenagers

on March 14, 2012

To all the moms out there who had your kids one after the other; if I looked at you in the store with a baby screaming in your arms and three more under the age of 3 tagging along behind you looking like little stair steps; or if I made you feel that you were completely insane–I am sorry for my judgmental view.

You had the right idea of it, if you want four kids; then have them all as close together as possible– that way you get through all the crazy stages at one time; unlike me who spaced out my four children to the point I will be dealing with a teenagers and their craziness for EVER!

I will end up having a child of mine in the terrible teens for 17 years of my LIFE! — Needless to say the 15-year-old decided to pull another stunt (not on a trampoline this time but could have ended up in serious trouble) as if my lecture and grounding last week wasn’t enough. Now, I am forced to be a jail house warden. I have suspended his cell phone service (literally I called and had it disconnected) —no phone or texting, I have deactivated his Facebook account, and grounded him to the house until Valentine’s Day–I have taken his PS3 and put a time limit on TV  and Lights Out by 10pm. He can only have approved visitors and those visitors can only come see him during specified hours…

Just like the local newspaper does; I have made his “sentence” public as well via Facebook…Not to mention Craig and I have started a diet so I’m sure supper for the next few weeks will be like prison grub to him…I figure that since he now has a brand new weight bench and weights he received for Christmas, then he can really get the true feel of a prison/lock down experience and when he completes his time served then he will be released all “swelled up” with some muscles and on fire for Jesus having hopefully “seen the light”

I love my kids to the moon and stars, but I think all parents need to stop wishing for the handbook all babies should come with and instead have this little crystal ball that peers into the future. When your teaching your one year old a new word and clapping and going all crazy because they are learning to talk, you should be able to see those very words you’re so proud of them learning as they are being said  back to you from your 14-year-old with a smart mouth.

When you’re a young mama all strung out from no sleep and rocking a screaming baby and its working on your last nerve, you should be able to see yourself a nervous wreck wishing that baby was in your arms and not 17 years old busting curfew while not answering your phone calls.

When that sweet little baby starts to walk and you and your spouse sit in the floor and have your child take practice steps while you cry and clap for the act of walking, you should be able to peer into that ball and see your child use those same legs as a teenager to jump off a roof, or do back flips; half twist, full pike blah blah off a trampoline.

When your baby gets their first battery operated car like the big foot or Barbie jeep and you run around the yard filming or taking pictures and encouraging them to “push the button to make it go” you should be able to see yourself a few years later at the DMV with knots in your stomach while that same child begs and pleads to drive YOU out of there on a real road– in a real car –with the learners permit they JUST received.

When you walk into the kitchen as a young mama and see the lid off the cookie jar and a chair pushed to the counter and think the situation humorous; while grinning at your precious three-year old who has chocolate smeared all over their face, while they are shaking their head NO at you when you ask “did you eat a cookie?” We should have a flash of that same child looking us in the eye as a teenager and lying about where they have been or what they did. The humor and grin just seem to dissipate.

Maybe if we had that crystal ball then all of us would have twenty year old children we never taught to walk or talk and are too big to rock anymore—I don’t know—or maybe we would really enjoy those young years and not push so hard to have them reach the next level so fast.

It’s just crazy to me how the hormones associated with puberty fry the brain. Perhaps instead of a hand book or crystal ball, parents should have someone older and wiser sit them down and explain that the ONE single year of the terrible two’s is nothing but practice for the six years to come between the ages of 13 and 19.

It’s as if all the years between the terrible two’s and teenage years are lost and you pick right back up where you left off at two.  You spend from 3 years of age until 10 teaching your child how to pick up their mess, clean up their room; how to take a proper bath and have good hygiene—only to have them seemingly master it by the age of 9 or 10 with pride and turn 13 and forget it all as if they suffered brain damage overnight!

Their bedroom becomes a war zone, a closet holds everything but their clothes which end up everywhere but the closet; they can’t pick up a towel or wash cloth from the bathroom and carry it to the hamper. If you’re lucky you might have a year or two where the young child learns to make a sandwich or a bowl of cereal for themselves and you beam with pride—only to have the 16-year-old put the cereal back unclosed, leave the milk out on the counter for hours on end and you can just about forget them ever remembering to tie wrap a loaf of bread—I actually told one of my boys that the only thing I felt like we had truly mastered was Potty Training; because it was the only thing he did on his own as a teenager that I didn’t have to go behind him and clean up afterwards.

The erratic sleep habits of the baby come back with a vengeance as well, a teenager stays awake half the night and if allowed would sleep “on demand” and wake up during daylight hours only to pee, poo and be fed or if a female wake up only to be moody, fussy and ill before crashing again. Remember when your baby would just get “fussy” for no reason and you blamed it on over stimulation or teething or just being grumpy? Well get ready for round two; only this time you get to blame the moodiness and irritability on hormones. Instead of whining in gibberish you can’t understand, the teenager bitches and gripes and complains with a very well versed command of the English language (which YOU clapped for when they learned) and you get to understand every single word of it.

Remember the terrible two’s when your precious angel learned to tell you NO and managed to get into everything and you spent all your time trying to catch them, train them, discipline them and set boundaries? Well you get to do all that over again– but with a teenager it’s different because the two-year old only knows what he or she wants, and doesn’t understand they can’t have every demand met instantly. The two-year old doesn’t understand danger yet and when they feel pain they run crying for mama or daddy. A teenager not only knows what they want, but they also KNOW everything else in the world as well—they are suddenly so much smarter than you and they perceive themselves as invincible. They understand danger; they just believe it will never happen to them; and if by chance they get into danger doing something crazy—mama and daddy are the last to know.

Do you remember how you had to read sign language from your baby? You knew if they wanted to be picked up when they grunted and stretched their arms up. Well you get to re-learn how to be an interpreter again with your teenager; only this time if you see a glazed look in their eyes and you receive a hug as they walk by—PLEASE translate that into meaning they did something stupid and were almost killed. You will find out all the details when they are twenty and I promise they will laugh telling you every vivid part of it.

Do you remember not understanding what your baby wanted and having to point at everything saying “That? Do you want that?” Same thing with a teenager, only you sit there for hours saying “do you need to talk? Do you want to talk about it?” Or how about your two-year old throwing an ultimate temper tantrum over a broken toy or something minor when you consider the fact they were clean, dry, fed and loved—you didn’t freak out that they didn’t understand at that age what was meaningful in the real world, as the parent you understood that the perception of the two-year old was out of whack. All they saw was the broken toy. Magnify that by a million and you might, just might have an image of the teenage girl drama over something so irreverent that in just a few years– she won’t even remember what she screamed, cried and lost sleep over or had you up half the night listening to her vent about. It’s eerily similar to the broken toy you both had forgotten about by the time she has her first break up and broken heart.

Have you ever wondered why only teenagers drive by busting mail boxes off post with baseball bats or drag race down straight stretches of black top? Do you know anyone under the age of 10 and over the age of 20 that will SHARE a piece of gum straight out of another person’s mouth? A kid knows better and a 20-year-old is grossed out by the fact half of them DID share gum while a teenager!  It has to be a brain disorder of temporary proportions.

The whole “germ” thing with 2 year olds, like putting their mouth on everything and running around with snotty noses and a bad cough drove me nuts—about the time you think you have taught them to be clean, blow their nose and cover their mouth—they turn 15 and will kiss and swap spit with the opposite sex at any given opportunity and by high school half of them have kissed the other persons weekly girl friend or boyfriend—so instead of ear infections you go to the doctor for mono. You have to keep a constant check on two-year olds when they have play group to make sure they are sharing, you have to keep check on a group of teenagers to make sure they DON’T share too much.

You may have had a horrid day with your two-year old, but by bed time you could gaze at them and swear there was no sweeter angel on earth than that sleeping child—You will have many tough days with your teenager and you will still look upon them in sleep wondering where your baby went..but.. if they catch you gazing on them while they sleep, they will accuse you of snooping through their bedroom and the next day they will clean it and destroy all evidence.

A two-year old will never trade a cookie for carrot and a teenager will never admit you know what is best for them. The good things you want for them will come later when they suddenly settle down and grow up. Then and only then will they understand that you loved them and always wanted what was best for them—even when they were at their worst. I know this because God has proven this point home twice already with my older two children.

Justen called home tonight right as Craig and I were in the middle of building some Godly Character in our 15-year-old and sentencing him to his punishment. My oldest son wanted to know how long Chicken stayed good in the freezer because he was cooking himself a healthy meal. The thought occurred to me how much junk food, pizza, roman noodles and cheese sticks Justen lived off of as a teenager. He now lives on his own, and eats asparagus, spinach and stir-fry, has not touched caffeine in four years and is truly health conscious. I remembered how hard it was to get him to bring up his laundry at 16—now he washes his own clothes and enjoys having things clean. The terrible two’s seem so long ago and even the crazy teenage years seem less traumatic than they did at the time I went through them with him.

So I took a breath and tried to imagine I had a crystal ball to see Cason in a few years as well—this crazy, cocky, self-assured child of mine will not to lie to his wife because he didn’t get away with lying to his mama. He will use that adventurous spirit to do great things and if I stand firm during these roller coaster years; then he gets the chance to truly be free and live the life he is meant to live. Until then he is on lock down doing some hard time with some of mama’s “tough love.”








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