Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are
Today a friend of mine joined the POT club: Parents of Teenagers. As I welcomed her to the madness and wished her luck as her son turned 13, her response was that although he had been acting like a teenager for awhile anyway, she still wondered, "Where is my little boy?"
As a parent of a teenager myself, I have to admit, I could totally relate to that sentiment. Although in all honesty I have enjoyed my child at every age (MOST of the time), I do miss, to a certain extent, some of the behaviors and personality traits that I really enjoyed when she was younger. But despite my teenager's advanced age of 15-going-on-16, it's not like youthful innocence, joy and needs have slipped away forever, crushed in the typhoon of Adolescence. It's more like they have been repressed upon eye-roll and sigh-roll pain of death, accompanied by an interminably long, lamenting, multi-syllabic wail of MOM!!!!!!!
But you know, despite how much she protests, how she feels she must maintain certain behaviors at critical moments, and how there is a real and distinct separation between parent and child (Good God, don't walk TOO CLOSE and upon pain of death NO TOUCHING. EVER), there are still times (somewhat rarer, these days) when I see glimpses of the little girl. The other night she was just really, really tired and stressed out. We were both on the couch watching television, and the next thing I knew she was lying down, and then without a word, I was suddenly a pillow. I knew she was exhausted and just needed some TLC, which she got, without lecture or discussion or teasing. I knew it was a moment. Special for me. Necessary for her. And we both felt better for it.
It doesn't matter how old you get, how grown you might feel, or how important you believe it is to assert your independence. Everyone is still a child. Everyone is a son or a daughter, and there are times in everybody's life where I think they would like nothing better than to be listened to, to be cared for, to be freed from worries and responsibilities, and to go out and laugh and play, or stay inside and be fed chicken soup, applesauce, and cinnamon toast.
Where is the child? I don't think -- I know -- it is in every one of us. Much to the horror of my teenager, I still love the fun and humor that is often lost in adulthood. Heck, half the time still feel like "the kid." But I know I'm not. I'm the mom of a teenager, and now I pay a great deal of attention to those rare moments when the guard drops out of necessity or fun and the child peeks its head around the corner for a visit. After all, we are grown-ups every single day of our life. It would be a shame to miss that special moment when the posturing of adolescence or the responsibility of adulthood takes a break and we are treated to that rare visit from an earlier time full of funny faces, irrepressible giggles, fantastic stories, jokes, wonderment, hugs and a never-ending flow of I love you's.