I have a theory and it goes a little like this: teenagers are the reason wine was invented.
And see the thing is, as parents, it's not as though our children turn into teenagers without warning. Not only that, most of us are able to remember when we ourselves were teenagers. Not to mention the glimpse into our future when they became "tweens". It started with the death by celebrity perfume (or Lynx Africa for the young men), progressed onto the excessive eye rolling and evolved into overstated hair flicking. But from there, there were certain moments, particular traits that are somewhat isolated to the 'teenage' years.
So what are the definitive signs? Here are six very obvious signs you now have a teenager in your midst:
1. You literally hear the word literally 263 times within a 24-hour period.
You'll most likely hear this word accompanied by the word 'like' and often used incorrectly. Literally, as most of us know, means in a literal manner or sense or EXACTLY as it happens. I guarantee you that every time your teenager uses the word 'literally', she or he does not mean 'exactly as it happened'.
2. Pimples are omnipresent.
As a parent you will face this conundrum: to mention or not to mention the outbreak on their face. I mean, I LITERALLY had a tube of Clearasil on my body at all times when I was a teen. Now, there are much more (often harsher) remedies out there for the dreaded zit. But even so, it stuns a parent to see such usually clear skin adorned with oily, raised puss filled lumps. A word of advice? Don't make a big deal of it, this they won't accept well. Just give them some great skin care options and work out what triggers them, if anything. Spoiler: they often just come with the teenage hormone territory.
3. Unpredictable irrational moods are a part of your life now.
Sometimes I can just look at my child the "wrong way" and it inadvertently causes World War Three. Sometimes it's because the dinner I've cooked is "bullshit" or that I'm not ready to leave the SECOND that they are ready to. Other times it doesn't even have a defining moment. Sometimes it's just because they have the shits.
4. Grunting becomes an acceptable language.
I was warned about this. "Just you wait, your child will only answer you in grunts and little more". My first child though, she continued to use full sentences (albeit, sentences that contained the words 'like' and 'literally' peppered through them), but she did keep communicating. The boys though? It is like some part of their brain has been temporarily removed and it almost physically pains them to answer me with actual words. I'm trying not to take it personally.
5. They've started attending "real" parties (and thus, started stealing your alcohol)
Oh, do you not remember back to when you were a teenager? Because I do and I remember being willing to sell a kidney to secure a bottle of vodka for a Saturday night party. Please don't think your kid is any different. Have the conversation and perhaps work out a strategy. We make sure we always pick them up and are happy to give them a few Breezers to drink before or at the party. This is far more preferable to them getting their hands on a goon bag that no one can pinpoint the origins of.
6. If they emerge from their room before 12pm on a weekend you start to ask questions.
I look at my daughter as if she's an alien if she graces us with her presence before midday on a Sunday. She usually cowers and blinks at the natural light streaming through the window behind my head and then proceeds to put some bread in the toaster. Do not question this. It will only end in tears.
I generalise with the above, I know I do. For the most part, okay, well for 30 per cent of the time, teenagers are a delight. But it needs to be understood that something happens to kids once they hit their teens. And they can't help it, it's SCIENCE. So as parents, let's just be the best version of ourselves and try to accommodate them. Or at the very least, try and ignore their sarcastic and cynical answers.
Actually, you know what? Screw the horse whisperer; I want a teenager smartarse whisperer. NOW that is a profession I would legitimately pay money for.
But seriously, remember, the best thing you can do is be available to your teen. Don't judge, be open and try to remember you own experiences.
What changes have you noticed since your child became a teenager?