What I’ve Learned From My Kids

I’m exceedingly proud of my children.  They don’t always get the best grades, but they are really good people.  They are kind and considerate.  They are generous.  I can see aspects of myself in them, but those aspects have been transfigured into something greater than what I find in myself.  I see strength in them that I didn’t see in myself when I was their age.  I’m really proud of my children, and I love them very much.

They are teenagers, though, so I have a few things to say about them that are less… ahem… boastful.

My daughter Bryanna is 17.  Like me, she has a tendency to take things personally too easily.  It’s something I’ve worked on all my life, and I see how it affects her.  When I was 17, I’d take something personally and turn the bad feelings into anger or rage.  This would lead to arguments, or even physical violence.  I’m not proud of how I dealt with it.  I’d just get so wound up, and my outlets weren’t always healthy.

With Bryanna, she gets angry, too, but she internalizes and does something else with it.  I’m not sure exactly what.  Sometimes I can get her to argue with me, but she mostly just goes into herself and ignores people.  She gives us the silent treatment.  I can’t stand being ignored, and that’s exactly what she does to me sometimes, for no good reason.  She’ll just ignore me, and it’s the one thing I haven’t learned to deal with yet.

Something interesting that I’ve learned from Bryanna is that the craziness or meanness of a teenage girl isn’t often directed at someone for personal reasons.  What I mean is, sometimes, Bryanna will be arbitrarily mean or rude to me, and I can only attribute the behavior to hormones, or misdirected bad feelings.  It reminds me of some of the ways teenage girls tortured me when I was a teenager, and it’s given me some relief.  When I was younger, I took it personally.  I know now that it might just have been teenage craziness.

My son, Chris, is 15.  He, too, is suffering from teenage craziness, but it’s a craziness that I can relate to and understand.  Male teenage craziness is all about sex.  Anything you say, if there’s someway to turn it into an innuendo, Chris will start snickering.  There are some words that are just automatic: ball, nut, screw, bone.  There are others that require more imagination.  Chris’s hormone filled brain finds ways to turn anything into a sex joke, and it’s clear that it’s on his mind.  A lot.

I went through it myself.  I’ve talked with Chris about it, and I let him in on a little secret: it never ends, you just get better at dealing with it as you get older.  At least, that’s how it’s been for me.

Beyond the hormones, Chris is another fantastic individual.  He’s a young man, that’s respectful and kind.  He’s energetic.  I like to think that these are qualities I possess as well, as I recall people describing me with these adjectives as well.

Something that Chris and I do not have in common, however, is that Chris is laid back.  He does not let things bother him, the way I always let things bother me.  That quality makes all the difference in the world.  By being so calm and easy-going, as well as those other wonderful qualities I mentioned, he is popular.  People like to be around him, and miss him when he’s gone.

I look at my kids, and I see great people.  I see people that are better than I am.  I’m lucky and proud and grateful.