Friday, January 22, 2010

Oh the joy of 17 year olds!

So, it was my birthday (On Tuesday) and we were all sitting around the table eating Stouffers Lasagna. I know, I know... such nutrition, such elegance.. nevermind....

And my son, the 17 year old going on 37/ future pilot and smarter-than-you-mom, says to me:

"Hey, Mrs. Klaas is such a great teacher!"

(Mrs. Klaas is his U.S. Government teacher at Hallstrom. She also has some local political position.. yada yada yada)

Me: "Oh really! That's great. I'm so glad you like her,"

Dumb son: "Yeah, she doesn't teach at all like you, Mom. She is really good,"

Me: "What? How is she so different?"

Smart alec: "Well, you just read from the book. I've seen you do it."

Me: "You mean when you walked by when I was teaching study skills? Some kid stole my book last week, and I just wanted to make sure I reviewed the highlights from the chapter. I didn't sit there and read the whole hour.."

Kid: " Well she doesn't go around and around like you do. She's so easy to follow and listen to.."

Me: "Oh, but can't you think of anything good to say about my teaching? Other people's kids who have had me for a teacher really like me, you know. Parents give me good feedback all of the time. Why is it that they like my teaching style and you don't?"

nothing. no response. Other kids giggle..

Defensive Dad, "This has gone far enough.. You are being rude to your mother.. etc. etc. "

I think the bird is officially ready to leave the nest.

Here's a kid that would ONLY learn from mommy. Even when Grandma Judy came to visit, he only wanted mommy for a teacher. Around the third grade, we had him attend Sunday school and do AWANA. In the fifth grade, we started with violin and gym and other people teaching him. By highschool, he had a full load of classes from other people. And now, his senior year, he actually prefers someone else teaching him.

So, this is probably what is meant to be, but still...

So, my husband consoles me (logically, like a good man should) and tells me

"Jamie is linear. He likes linear teachers. You are too circular for him."

You know the funny thing? He's right. Mrs. Klaas probably is a logical, linear teacher, and I love circling around the subject when I teach.

Jamie is basically saying three things:
1) He is ready to go off to college.
2) I have a different teaching style than the one he prefers.
3) Even though a lot of people like me as a teacher, he is too egocentric at this stage of his life to see the merit in it.

There. Exhale. I can go on now. Nobody stays 17 forever, you know. Who knows? Someday, I may get to help homeschool my grandkids, and THEY may like it.
Grandma's rule.
I'm healed.


sara said...

I bet that really stung. It smarts when my 5 year old rejects me, teenagers must be tough.

Organizing Mommy said...

You've gotta be tough, Sara. I'm fine now.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Oh, ouch.

But good summary.

Oh it's tough to be that age. You know what they say...

How many teenagers does it take to change the lightbulb?

Just one. He just holds it and the world revolves around him.

Organizing Mommy said...

Oh Julie, I'm holding my gut I'm laughing so hard.

Somehow I just knew that a few of you would come back with funnies. And I NEED to write these things down. Because when he is a grown-up gentleman, I can encourage the younger mommies in this way.

I hear everybody goes through this at 17. I know I gave my Mom a run for her money when I was 17!

Mrs. Parunak said...

O.M., Since I'm only in my early thirties, I remember 17 pretty well, and feel qualified to give you the Stages of Development talk. It goes like this:

Stage 1: Small child adores parents, thinks they know everything, etc.

Stage 2: Older child on cusp of adulthood still loves good old Mom and Dad, but decides they know nothing compared to child's brilliant wisdom and newly formed life system.

Stage 3: Young adult actually tries out life system for a few years and discovers that it doesn't really work ALL that much better than Mom and Dad's, and (if humble) sees that he or she isn't necessarily that much better a spouse/parent/worker/evangelist/etc. than Mom and Dad and decides that, yeah, Mom and Dad are pretty wonderful, and maybe they don't know everything, but they do actually know an awful lot, and at any rate, they deserve some respect and love.

Hang in there. He's a godly kid. He'll come around.

Scottish Twins said...


I'm just plugging my ears and convincing myself that my children will never ever grow up and be teenagers. A girl can dream, right?!

Deborah said...

Oh dear! What happens if they're only thirteen? I guess maybe sending him to highschool will be the right choice.

I'm so glad you were able to write about it -- even if only to warn the rest of us.


Kelly L said...

Great post! The other day my 13 year was convinced that she knew more than me.. so I googled and at least this time I was

Love to you.

DarcyLee said...

I have been through this age (not counting my own) 4 times and I can tell you, this attitude will pass-right around the age of 24 or 25. By that time they have learned that Mom and Dad knew EXACTLY what they were talking about and they are pretty smart after all. Just keep smiling because they don't mean to be rude but it seems to come out that way, and it will pass. And, yes, you do get to know the signs of when they are ready to fly from the nest.

Organizing Mommy said...

Mrs. Parunak and Darcy Lee: Thanks so much for the encouragement. If this is the worst it gets, I really am blessed. I'm recognizing this stage as a stage.

Deborah and Scottish Twins: it all happens to gradually, and TIME makes you strong enough to handle it. There's another reason to have a bigger family. Emily is still in stage 1, and when she gets to stage 2, I'm hoping my older kids will be in stage 3 and maybe some grandkids in stage 1??

My mother laughed right out loud when I told her the 17 year old antics around here. She reminded me of my senior year when she needed to "ground me" for the first time ever for being a smart alec.

Berean Wife said...

An encouraging note, I made it through my oldest being 17. He is now 18 and works a serious fulltime “adult” job. He has begged me to let him homeschool again. Turns out it wasn't so bad after all!

There is still hope.

Berean Wife

Trica (Tree' - ka) said...

Just give him about seven years and he'll realize how smart you actually are, and how obnoxious he actually was!! My youngest son, who was 24 at the time, spent about ten days with his 17 year old cousin. Afterward, he actually apologized to me!! Told me he was sorry if he had EVER acted like his cousin when he was that age!! Just don't take it personally, love them through it and it will all work out.

Kathryn said...

Well, it isn't a funny comment, nor is it particularly helpful, but:

I DIDN'T give my folks "a run for their money" at 17. Because i wasn't secure enough in the family (or in myself) to do so. Because i was suicidal most of the year i was 17. Because i was "trying to look good" so as not to embarrass the family.

The result? Yeah, i thought my parents were stupid. But to a degree i've never stopped thinking that. I left the minute i turned 18 & essentially never went back. My relationship with my parents remains very distant & nearly non-existent. I've struggled most of my life to learn what i should have in those first 18 years, & still have a lot of problems with self-confidence.

I imagine that being the parent of a 17 year old is very difficult. But most of the kids that i've seen go thru this phase get beyond it & learn to have a good relationship with their parents. And most of them become good, well-rounded/grounded adults. I actually (from psych standpoint) see this as a good sign the kid is making strides towards independence.

Probably doesn't help the sting at all. I agree with the people say that in a few years he'll see things differently. More importantly - in my opinion - you almost certainly will still have a relationship with him.

Organizing Mommy said...

Kathryn: thank you for your transparency. There are so many things going on in a 17 year old's head, aren't there? One thing is for sure: it's a confusing time for everyone. And this is our first time. I consider him to be taking steps toward independence that seem relatively healthy. I am sorry you had such a rough time of it. Most kids come out of it, but some don't.

Kari said...

Just remember - teenagers can say hurtful things and not necessarily understand the impact they have. I know I said things that I shouldn't have to people I love. And now that I'm older, I have great relationships with those people. Teenagers tend to have a self-centered view of the world and that's normal for their age and experience. I'm glad you're able to step back and take a deep breath. Hang in there - it gets better!!

MommaMindy said...

We have the same story at our house, that's what makes a homeschool coop for high school really nice. Either they get "better" teachers, or realize Momma wasn't so bad. I also had students I tutored for math that thought I was the best teacher in the world, then would tell my kids how LUCKY they were to have me for a mom. It all works out in the end, somehow, doesn't it? :)

Becky said...

Well, I guess I could throw in my two cents here. My mom sent me a joke once, when my oldest two were entering their teen years - it went something like this. "Trying to raise a teenager is like trying to nail jello to a tree." I was more than a bit disgruntled since the ages of 11-13 had not been steller, so I determined that we would not just survive the teen years, but thrive, and come out ahead of the game. I think that our expectations of children sometimes color how we handle them. We've come to expect teenagers to do certain things, and if we believe this, I'm sure things will come about to make it happen. I never wanted to think of mine as teenagers (a relatively modern term for this age group), but as young adults, and I expected them to act that way. I also expected (and repeatedly encouraged) them to start thinking like the adult they were becomming. Childishness, in it's various forms, was no longer tolerated. The only time one questioned me on the quality of her education, it took me less than 10min. to convince her that her education was more than adequate. We've never looked back, and she's thrilled with her education. My oldest will be 20 VERY soon, and the next oldest turns 18 in a few months - and I have no complaints. I have been blessed. In contrast to what I so often hear from other parents who have (or have had) children in that age range, I have loved it. My girls show a great deal of responsibility and a willingness to work hard - at anything. They also confide in me and seek out my advice on just about anything. It is like watching all those years of training mesh together in two beautiful lives, and I'm thankful that I get to see, and enjoy it while they are still at home, instead of once they are establishing their own homes.
I heartily encourage parents to get the book "Do Hard Things"; read it, have your children read it, and embrace the challenge of rising above cultural norms for the teen years.

Riah said...

To tell the truth, I find several of these comments to be hurtful. First of all because I myself am a teenager (17 at that) and I truly think adults (20 and up) have a very biased opinion of us, and that bias is based on the simple fact our age ends in "teen". It's tantamount to not liking someone because they have naturally red hair. We can no more help the fact that we are teenagers anymore then some of you can help being in your 30's or 40's. Do you know how hurtful it is when someone asks your parents what age-range their children are in and when they realize that some of them are teens they say "oh I feel sorry for you". They are not saying that because they know you personally and know you have bad character traits, they're saying it because your 13-19. No one asks you how old your spouse is and when you answer 50-something they reply "oh I feel sorry for you" because no one has biased ideas of 50 year olds.
Another reason I find this hurtful is because of the low expectations adults have for us. We are no longer expected to do anything right, and are no longer expected to serve a purpose. "Teens" a hundred plus years ago were expected to have families and be able to teach schools, especially teen girls. Young men were expected to start preparing for a wife and family. No one expects us to be able to clean up a room, let alone keep a house. When you start expecting people to act a certain way they start meeting those expectations, whether they be high or low. Now I am not trying to put all the blame of bad-behaving teens on adults, that would be hypocritical. It would be like saying "treat me like an adult, but don't expect me to act like one". Teens are responsible for how they react to your expectations, whether they be high or low. You can expect us to act one way all you want, but it is us who responds. We have no excuse for behaving badly. We can say "it's my parents' fault I act this way, they raised me", but in the grand scheme of things our actions are our own. When we stand before God He doesn't care how many low expectations adults had, He only cares about how we lived our lives. We wont be able to blame anyone but ourselves for the way we acted, we wont have any excuses. It was up to us to live the way He would have us, and nothing we say or do is going to change that.


Organizing Mommy said...

Riah and Becky: Thanks for chiming in with your useful insight. Riah, I am so glad you are taking the steps to do the right things as a teenager. Our teens, including the one who made the disparaging comment, are such a blessing to us. The reason it was even noteworthy is because it was so out of character for him that I was stunned. He (and our other kids) are really great kids! They have read the book: Do Hard Things and generally live that way. And we as humans have general tendencies (at certain ages) that we as moms laugh at, since our general tendencies (at 40, let's say) are even funnier than the general tendencies (at 17, let's say). So, when I post something like that, I'm sure there's someone out there who is encouraged and someone else who is discouraged and others who are nonplussed, if you know what I mean.

Either way, I'm well over it, and "Robotdude" is still doing amazing things like leading the singing at our church, being dilligent in his school work and generally being a great kid! He is getting ready to leave home, and I think there's a certain separation that happens and sometimes it gets expressed in weird ways. And if you read my blog long enough, you'll know that I'm no stranger to expressing myself in WEIRD WAYs.. Love you all!

Joanna said...

Hey mom, can you send me the link to this when I turn 17? :-)