Teenagers! What can anybody say about them? So many books, so many theories about them, their developing minds, their massive all-round changes, discipline, limits, apron strings which no longer provide everything they need.
I have a very clear memory of myself aged about 11 in the sitting room of my home with a fire crackling and my father having a mug of tea. My mother was warming herself at the fire and I was giving her a hug. I could smell her Max Factor No 53 face powder-Tempting Touch. Those details are branded in my mind as along with a dab of pink lipstick, that was all the make up my mother ever wore. It was all she needed as her personality lit up everywhere she was.
I was in my father's house by myself recently and rummaged to find some of her old stuff and found a Max Factor No 53 in one of her handbags. Smells and songs, how they take us back as though we'd never even been away.
Back to that moment in the golden sitting room and I clearly remember the overwhelming thought I had at that time.
Everything I ever need or want is in this room just now.
If only we could all stay 11 forever. The world would be such a lovely place.
...we wouldn't have teenagers.
We wouldn't be able to share in the adventure, turbulent or calm, whichever one it is, it's still an adventure and though they might not be thinking everything I need is my Mammy and my Daddy, in their hearts, that's what they still want and wish to (sort of) keep hold of, even if from an ever increasing distance.
Think of it...
...remember your sweet, milky newborn? How every minute of every day you kissed, smelled, caressed and gazed at that little person?
Jump forward 15 years...
...listen to yourself..
Nag, nag, nag, nag.
When did we stop delighting in that same person?
I read once that teen boys (and I have none) really need that touch. Not necessarily bear hugs and especially not in public, but just your hand on their arm when you're talking to him, or a fluff of the hair and so on. Girls the same, though they might not invite it. Chats are lovely (and delightful sometimes). But an actual touch from a parent can mean the world to them. You may feel like you're lost at sea and sinking fast but did you ever stop to think that maybe that's exactly how the teenager feels too and that maybe all they'd like is a little back scratch?
So with that in mind, when I came home this evening I sat on the bed of one of my teens as she was looking at homework and exam-papers and I gave her a back-scratch as I was chatting to her.
I know she liked it..
..because she said..
.."lower....left a bit..and up a bit..aaahh..yes there.."
I really love my teenagers.
Sometimes we just need to remember that.