All through my teen years and all through these years of raising my children, there has been so much derogatory talk about teenagers. The word “teenager” is often used in similar connotations as the word “cancer” is used or “terrorist”. I believe this to be shameful and misleading. Having teenagers is not a bad thing. It may not be easy, but it is not a bad thing.
So, I would like this opportunity to put in a good word for teenagers, particularly the two that live in my home. I love having teens. When children are born, it is as if you have been given a gift, but you have to wait to see what is in it. As they emerge into the teen years, the gift really starts to unfold. What fun to get to see what God has created and put inside them.
Take this past weekend for instance. We have a retail nursery and we sell plants at First Monday, Canton Texas and at Third Monday Trades Days, McKinney, Texas. The whole family is involved. To start things off, we have to load a few hundred plants- mostly in 3 gallon containers, load the booth set-up equipment, signs, etc. This is no easy task. That was done on Thursday and Friday morning we were up and on the road by 6:30 am. Before we could go, all the animals were fed and watered- which is done by Cheyenne, Savannah, Sierra and Jonathan. Once we arrived, the teens (Cheyenne & Savannah) and Tony unloaded the lumber and built a 10X10 shed with tin walls and 4X4 beams while the younger two and I began unloading plants. Then the rest of the plants and shade supports must be unloaded and built. We wrapped up and headed home by 4:30. They did all this without fighting or complaining- and no they didn’t do it for money.
Saturday began at the same time with Cheyenne heading to McKinney with us and the rest of the kids staying home. She worked all weekend moving the plants, working with customers, and running errands for us. It was a delight to have her company. She is intelligent with a good head on her shoulders and carries on a very pleasant conversation. Most of the time, she has a good sense of humor and always likes to get the work done. Overall, she makes me look good in public!!! It was also nice to be able to walk around the flea market with Tony for a little while and not have to worry about the business- it was in good hands.
Back at home, Savannah at 16, was in charge. I know many parents who would not be able to trust their kids at home overnight, but I did not think twice about it. I knew she could do it, but I must say I was impressed with how much she got done. Tony and I came home to a clean house. Savannah had done the laundry and cleaned the kitchen- or saw to it that whose ever turn it was got it done. One thing- she learned the hard way was why you don’t use Dawn in the dishwasher…. Anyway, the kitchen floor was clean.
Not only did Savannah keep the house in order, she had to feed herself and her two younger siblings. One night she made Creamy Tuna Pasta, which is kind of like tuna helper, only the creamy white sauce is a homemade Bechamel sauce that she makes herself. The next day she made grilled shrimp. To do this, she had to thaw the shrimp, peel & devine the shrimp, and fire up the grill. No food from a box around here! Maybe I am partial, but that is impressive! If that wasn’t enough, she was also responsible for all the animals being tended to. Sierra and Jonathan have their chores and do them without being told, but never the less, the responsibility was her’s and she shouldered it well.
So, for all those critics who are of the mind that teenagers are unreliable, have bad attitudes and are only motivated by money or other personal gain- I beg to differ. I believe that teenagers will rise to the standard set before them. I believe that we sell our children short when we accept the world’s standards for what they are capable of. I believe that when given the chance, teens will rise to the occasion and pitch in to help.
Here is what I don’t like about having teens. Not only can they see through your smoke screen- all children can- but they are old enough to articulate back to you how you are not living up to your own standards. I don’t like knowing that in just a matter of months the landscape of my family will change forever as they leave the nest and fly. I don’t like it when they roll their eyes at me or walk away with their shoulders slumped at what I have asked them to do- you guessed it, they aren’t perfect.
Another thing I don’t like- the friction that comes with having, basically, three grown, strong-willed, opinionated women living in the same house. Of course, I have myself to thank for the strong-willed, opinionated part- but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I set out to work myself out of a job as a mother. I wanted them to be able to live on their own in a capable, successful way. I don’t want boomerang kids- the kind that leave home and come back. I wanted them to launch and have the skill set to be successful. I am so pleased when they are tested in small ways, like this weekend, and they come through with flying colors.
So for all you parents out there with young children heading full speed for teenagers- take heart, it is not a bad thing. Enjoy this stage, its the last one you have before they leave home.