I’m a parent with a son. He’s the centre of my life. My absolute world and I love him beyond words. You’ll know, if you’re a parent, how that feels. It’s pretty special but also pretty indescribable. It’s an unconditional love from the day they enter the world. They are a part of you. They are you. And you would do anything for them. Anything. Apart from raise them during the teenage years. Can I skip that bit? Can I loan him out for a while? Stay in contact via snapchat? Maybe hire a nanny, like the Beckham’s. Yes, my boy turned thirteen last year and he’s entered the dreaded teenage phase.
Apart from his actual age, which I was reminded of for weeks leading up to his birthday, there are some recognisable personality traits. The same traits I displayed in my teenage years. Would you like a list? Sure, no problem. He’s starting to grunt. No recognisable words of such but an indescribable grunt. It’s neither a yes nor a no. It’s a definite grunt though. And it tends to happen simultaneously with a shrug of the shoulders. One shoulder if he’s feeling grumpy, both shoulders if he wants us to emigrate and leave him the house.
For example, I’ll go in with my daily ice-breaker, ‘how was school?’ Without looking up from his iPad, they’ll be a grunt and a shrug of the shoulder. I take this as, ‘I went to school and I came home. That OK with you?’ I’ll take that. At least it’s some form of communication. Like talking to an alien, who’s just landed on earth for the first time. You don’t immediately hit it off but at least you’re making an effort. And he can see you are trying. But his mate has just messaged him on Instagram and that’s much more interesting. Fair play.
He’s an only child, so I’m doing this for the first and last time. There’s no template from a previous child. I’m learning as I go along. Or blagging may be a fairer description. My son knows that, I know that, my wife knows that. We’re all secretly in on it. And we are all vying to be top dog. To be in control of the situation. To allow him the independency a teenager craves but making sure that he knows, we are still his parents. We are still in charge here. Of course we don’t really know what we’re doing but let’s pretend we do. We’ve pulled it off this far, so why not for the next few years?
It’s the emotional bond that starts to slip. Them needing you. Needing that hug, that kiss, that reassurance. Them knowing that you are there for them, whenever they need you. I miss that. I really do. This is why I am close to getting a dog.
Well, here lies the challenge. He’s edging to a point where he no longer needs us. And it breaks my heart to say that. But it’s true. There’s a few years to go yet and if he’s anything like me, he’ll be asking for favours (money, babysitting, etc.) well in to his forties. It’s the emotional bond that starts to slip. Them needing you. Needing that hug, that kiss, that reassurance. Them knowing that you are there for them, whenever they need you. I miss that. I really do. This is why I am close to getting a dog. I am needy. I don’t mind admitting that. I need to be needed. I need the attention. A dog will give me that. A dog will run to the door when I get home from work, just like my son used to. I can cuddle a dog without it becoming embarrassed or backing away. And, with a bit of training, the dog will listen to me and may even obey me. I suspect my son may struggle with that as he goes through his teenage years.
My wife and I had our boy quite early. We were the first couple to have a baby in our close-knit group of friends. It was big news and he was very much adored by everyone, as any new born baby is. Fast forward thirteen years and those close-knit friends are now having babies and raising young children themselves. And who’s first to volunteer to babysit? Yep, you guessed it, the needy guy, who’s about to get a dog. And I’m loving the babysitting. Kids that can’t wait to see you, play with you and demand a story before bedtime. My boy is currently reading MY NEWSPAPER before he goes to bed. How did that happen? What happened to the hungry caterpillar?
There are positives to raising a teenager. They are still your child. The love and the bond is as strong as ever. It’s just different. And he’s growing up fast, so it’s forever changing and challenging. And I’ve been there. We all have. And I try to remember that. It’s a very difficult time being a teenager. So all I can do, is be there when he needs me. Like when he’s lost his iPad.
Guy is a self-confessed show off , presenter on Juice FM in Brighton and telly regular. Outside of that, if he’s not getting enough attention, he hosts everything from comedy nights to corporate events. He’s also in a band and aims to avoid a proper job for as long as he can.