Friday, March 31, 2017

Teenagers Leaving the Nest

They come to us as helpless bundles of joy. Our lives take on more profound meaning than we ever imagined. As parents, we have huge expectations for ourselves and our children.

There are sleepless nights as the baby's needs come before our own. Every whimper or cry sets off our alarms as we selflessly devote to determining and rectifying the cause. They are fed, diapered, and nurtured in every way that we can guess might quiet the infant sounds of distress.

We watch with anticipation and glee as they gain weight, grow and develop control of their little muscles and frame. We hang on every sound that they make as toddlers, while they learn to form words and communicate with us in words rather than cries.

Soon they become preschoolers and we devote hours of time to them as they learn colors, numbers, alphabet, and names of objects from books and "educational" toys. We are an ocean of knowledge. They are the insatiable sponge of all that we can offer.

As they move into the pre-teen years, their horizons expand considerably. They may even challenge the status that has been given them, from time-to-time. Family vacations are planned for what might be the most fun and educational for the children.

When hormones begin to manifest the morph of our children into teenagers, we recall with vivid reality the times that we might not have survived those years into adulthood ourselves. Our fears for our children surviving their teen years are more profound than we could have ever have imagined the mental suffering that we caused our own parents.

The fact remains that these youths, though mottled with signs of adolescence, have full-feathered wings. However lacking that they might in the navigating the skies they are going to fly. Many teenagers, suffering the stress of trying to act like an adult without the full autonomy of being an adult, become frustrated and threaten to leave home. A few actually do.

Some of my adult children have teenagers, and even grandchildren, of their own now. I used to tell them, as young adults, that a teenager leaving home was like a baby maturing out of the need for diapers. I did not mind going through it but there would not be any do-overs. Looking back on how this worked out, I am eternally thankful that none of them went back to shitting their pants, too.