Are Teenage Boys Just Oversized Toddlers?

I’m not usually one to lament how kids grow up too fast or how time flies by. I probably will when the kids are out of the house and I’m all alone, but right now I mostly embrace the aging process — as my posts in 2015 (read here) and 2016 (read here) can attest.

A month ago, my (barely) fourteen-year-old son started high school. He takes classes with sophomores. He plays football with juniors and seniors. He even went to his first high school party (freshmen only, thank goodness). Then last week, he shaved for the first time — out of actual necessity. I know my man-child, who wears a size 12-1/2 shoe, has more body hair than I care to see and stands almost as tall as his father, is growing up, but shaving?! Is he more man than child now? Just when I think so, he says or does something that makes me think, nope … still a kid. Like how he needs to be reminded to flush the toilet, use soap in the shower or remove his underwear from his pants before throwing them in the washing machine. Maybe my fourteen-year-old is really just a hairy, oversized four-year-old.

c. August, 2017 – It took a lot of coaxing to get my man-child to smile and pose at Hershey this year.

Here are five more ways my teenage son is just like his toddler self …

  1. His aim sucks. Eleven years after potty training and there’s still an equal amount of pee on the seat, floor and wall as there is in the bowl. Nice, right?
  2. He leaves crumbs everywhere he goes. I get it — boys are messy eaters. But wiping the crumbs from the counter onto the floor doesn’t count as cleaning up.
  3. He outgrows clothes and shoes faster than I can keep up. Puberty is a bitch on the wallet. In the past three years, my fourteen-year-old has put on 60 pounds (much of it muscle) and grown over a foot. WTF?!
  4. He challenges me at every turn. As a toddler, it was the inquisitive “Why?” Now, it’s a defiant “Why not?” — often asked with attitude and indignation, to boot.
  5. He is moody. Eye rolls, sighs and huffs … Can you say hormones? At least when he was four, his moodiness could be alleviated with a nap or a snack.

Can anyone else relate to this? Seriously, it frustrates the hell out of me and drives me insane. I totally get why some parents drink and why some animals eat their young.

#truth. I love him to death, but my teenager pisses me off on a daily basis.

But, hey … It’s not all bad, right? There are perks to having a teenage son. Like the fact that he can tie his own shoes (although he rarely does), do his own laundry (rolled up socks and underwear in shorts be damned!) and reach things on the top shelves (he is three inches taller than me, after all). Toddlers can’t do any of that. Plus, we can watch (some) R-rated movies together and listen to dirty lyrics (within reason) without me worrying that I’m corrupting a minor. Score one for me and Jay Z!

Age 4-1/2: Back when he still fit on my lap.

Age 14: Taller than me and still growing.

Now, how soon until he can drive?

– LJDT

Graduating on the Down Low

It’s graduation season! Since the middle of May, social media feeds have been populated with pictures and posts of smiling kids — from college students down to preschoolers — wearing their ceremonial caps and gowns, waving their hard-earned diplomas. There’s usually a lot of pomp and circumstance surrounding graduations, at least for most kids. Not mine. My boys “graduated” from middle school and elementary school, respectively, a few days ago without much fanfare. No caps and gowns. No moving up ceremonies. No commencement speeches. No leather-bound diplomas. No big family parties or expensive gifts, either. Nope, not here. We marked the occasion with haircuts and pizza before running off to basketball and lacrosse. Woo, hoo! Do we know how to party or what?!

Post-haircuts, pre-pizza (6/14/07)

I’m not complaining. As a matter of fact, I’m grateful that my boys’ schools didn’t make a big production out of it. Less pressure for me. While I am proud of my boys for successfully completing their respective levels of education, there’s really no need to over-emphasize it. Everyone “graduates” from elementary and middle school, don’t they? Do they really need a long, drawn-out, formal ceremony? I mean, three-year-olds in mortar boards are cute and all, but like everything else, it’s all a bit much. Preschool proms and grade school graduations have become the equivalent of participation trophies in youth sports. In my humble opinion, if we over-celebrate all the little achievements, the big ones are diminished. Shouldn’t an ice cream cone and a “Way to go, buddy!” suffice? But high school and college graduations, those are each a much bigger deal in my book. Those are accomplishments worthy of grand celebrations.

Both my oldest niece and my oldest nephew graduated from high school last week. This is a milestone to honor and of which both should be proud, given their individual experiences. Both experienced the traditional splendor that accompanies many high school graduations: the processional, a few speeches, a musical performance, awards, more speeches, diplomas and finally, the recessional. The only marked difference was the clothing: My niece went to a public school in Chicago, so like everyone in her graduating class, she donned the customary cap and gown in her school colors; My nephew, on the other hand, graduated from a small, private school in New York and was dressed akin to his male classmates in white pants, a navy sports coat, white dress shirt and blue school tie (girls wore long, white dresses). She was stunningly beautiful. He was tall and handsome. Both were happy, excited and relieved as they accepted their hard-earned diplomas in front of jubilant family and friends. Definitely a day worthy of more than just a pat on the back. But for my kids, finishing 8th grade and 5th grade, respectively, haircuts and pizza was enough.

My handsome nephew, surrounded by his brothers and cousins (6/16/17).

My beautiful niece, proudly displaying her HS diploma (6/15/17).

Some of you may think our school district is lame for not holding elementary school proms and middle school gradations. Some of you may think I’m a slacker mom for not making a bigger fuss about my kids’ “moving up” from one school to the next. You may even think I’m too negative or jaded. Maybe, but I’m thankful to UCFSD for not forcing my hand into something more elaborate and expensive. I believe everyone should do what works for them (this is my motto in life) — For me, that was pizza for dinner. For others, it was sending a limo to pick up their kids on the last day of preschool or hosting an all-out house party to celebrate the end of 5th grade. To those parents I say, your kids are luckier than mine. For real (no sarcasm intended).

So despite my belief that we should save the big festivities for the bigger triumphs, I do wholeheartedly congratulate all those who graduated this spring — be it from preschool or college or somewhere in between. Way to go! … Now go eat some pizza.

– LJDT