War & Peace, Volume II

David Writes! GypsyNester.com

A reader wrote:

“The best part is when they finally get it, and tell you sorry for being such pain in the ass during those (teenage) years. My son told me he now understands everything I was trying to convey to his logic blocked brain back then…”

Oh man, I can relate.

I was pretty certain that at least one of my envelope-pushing teens would flee the nest — iPod at full volume and a certain finger in the air — never looking back or speaking to me again.

Hating my guts forever.

Let’s face it. Part of the growing up process is envelope-pushing. Our job as parents was to keep the envelope intact.

Simple science: All that pushing and pulling is bound to cause some friction. Where there’s friction, things get heated.

It was like the terrible twos all over again.

Only this time we were dealing with bigger, smarter, wilier entities. Entities that were convinced we were out to ruin their lives. No matter how many times we tried to explain that our decisions were made with their best interest at heart, it didn’t seem to sink into their hard little heads.

Teenagers feel that every party is the after-party at The Academy Awards, every game is the Super Bowl, and every day is their last day on Earth — so denying them anything is the end of the world to them.

Basic stuff like “No, you can’t go to a party at someone’s house if their parents aren’t home” became The 100 Years War. Or at least an all night battle.

“No, you can’t use the car tonight, I need it, but I’ll be glad to drop you off” somehow sounds just like “I hate your guts and want to destroy your very soul” to the ears of an adolescent.

It was like we didn’t even speak the same language.

I’m not sure how this happened. It seemed like they understood English a few years back, but then again, the first word they learned was NO!, closely followed by Why? And once again that’s all we seemed to hear.

The battles raged on, but luckily we were still able to see the big picture…well, for the most part. For this was a war of attrition. That’s not to say I didn’t think we might lose (have them leave and never speak to us again) but we would never surrender, never give in, never say die.

I held on to the hope that they would see things the way Mark Twain did:

“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. -Mark Twain

Well it paid off – even before The Spawn hit twenty-one!

After just one semester of college our oldest, The Piglet, told us, “thank you for caring enough to keep me in line.”

It’s way up in the top ten best moments of my parenthood experiences.

Who knew how much a simple “Thank you for loving me” could touch a parent’s heart – for me it was like Christmas, Fourth of July and Arbor Day all rolled into one. A veritable smorgasbord of warm fuzzyishiness.

The armistice is signed and peace reigns throughout the kingdom.

Ah, the spoils of war.

David, GypsyNester.com

YOUR TURN: Have your adult kids thanked you for keeping them in line during their teen years? How did it make you feel?

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34 thoughts on “War & Peace, Volume II”

  1. My husband and I (Mr. & Mrs. Excitement) were not envelope pushers when we were growing up. Our sons did not follow in our footsteps as teens, but have now made it past age 25, in my opinion, the age at which male brain neurons finally all get (more or less) connected. Our older son recently confirmed that he’ll be a stricter parent than we were, because having pushed the envelope himself, he’s savvier about the trouble teenagers can get themselves into.

    1. There may be something to his thinking. We were more strict, or involved might be a better word, with our kids than our parents. Might be because we were a little wild when we were younger.

  2. Uplifting post and as usual you had me laughing so hard I’m typing this comment while wiping away tears. “seemed like they understood English a few years back, but then again, the first word they learned was “NO!”, closely followed by “Why?” that’s so damn funny!!!

    Hugs to you and the piglet.

  3. Oh my, I’m still in the throws of waiting to hear this from mine. My oldest, a 20 year old, after living away at school for part of a year, does seem to appreciate what we do as parents. Now that he is back under our roof again, he lets me know he appreciates me by actually asking me how I am doing (unprompted) and by offering up hugs when his younger brother is making me crazy. (which is often). Everyone tells me that someday my kids will appreciate me….I am counting on that! Nice post.

  4. i’m still on the battlefield but i’m with you never surrerder here’s hopeing to see the light at the end of the tunnel soon lol thanks so much for sharing this post

  5. I don’t think I totally appreciated what parents do for their children until our first born spent his first night at home with us. That was 28 years ago. He’s getting married in May. It will be interesting to see if he experiences a similar epiphany.

  6. My middy son was my toughest child always pissed~off about something and just as strong willed as his Mama.But he is now 23 and after having to Nudge him out at 21 (to live with his 23 yr old sis)He now is the most pleasant young Man (proud mama) and thanks me often for the “Tough Love” he got as does the 26 yr old daughter. Now the 17 yr old daughter, is still in the battle with me. So I have to remind my (tired of fighting after 26 yrs) self she too will get it one day and stay strong!

  7. thank you for giving me hope… 17 years and counting… still in the midst of the teen year wars, sigh! but like you, I always say that *I* will win! (I hope)!

  8. Yes, my kids often thank me for setting the bar high for them. My daughter is a middle school teacher and hears the “not my child” speech from parents who make excuses for their kids every day. Her students talk back to her, and there are… no consequences for their actions when they go home. She often says, “I am so happy that I grew up in the house that I did, where I was taught to respect people, say ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ and not ‘be fresh’ to adults.” My son now has his own child and is quite strict with him as well. “Helicopter parents” do their children no good. What will they do if/and/or/when their children get a job? Go to the boss and say, “You’re being too tough on my child! You give him/her too much work! He/she comes home stressed out! He/she needs more vacation time! Cut him/her some slack!” Yeah…

    1. You’re so right, kids have got to learn to face their own challenges. Even though I thought of myself as a helicopter mom, I was in a different way. One time I actually argued with one of my kid’s teachers that her punishment wasn’t strict enough. -Veronica

  9. Yes. The oldest one thanks me every day for letting him live under our roof (boomerang) by doing the dishes and cleaning up after all of us. The other one couldn’t wait to get out and is now paying for a vacation for me and dad this summer…. The last one is the ungrateful eighteen year old graduating high school anxious to fly the coop. Two out of three ain’t bad! Who knows in a few years we may be getting another all expenses paid trip. If they can find us!

  10. My TEEN kids have thanked me for keeping them in line already… jaw dropper… I’ve thanked my Mom every time I’ve seen her since I was nineteen… can’t say it enough!

  11. Once, when my teenagers were sulking about being asked to help with the dishes, I told them I was the Bitch Mother from Hell and I took great pleasure on making their lives miserable. A story so blatantly untrue that it stopped them in their tracks. Now it has become a family joke, a way for all of us to keep things in perspective.

  12. I have made it to the day when my oldest daughter is now my best friend, next to my husband! She is 29, and is only 16 years younger than me. She and I have talked about all the horrible stuff she put us through!
    My 23 year old is pretty even keeled, but I am hoping I can make it past the 20 and the 18 year old that are still pushing that envelope!

  13. This really hits home. Our oldest was always butting heads with his Dad. When we were going thru old pictures while preparing for my his 50th birthday party, this son saw the pics of his Dad as a free living hippie immediately followed by his Dad with short hair and no beard with a little baby in the pictures (said son). He immediately realized the sacrifices his Dad made to be a good father and thanked him with tears in his eyes.

    It was pretty amazing and cathartic!


  14. Try being a stepmom! It is a thankless job…always the bad guy. But then they grow up.go off to college come home for a weekend and kiss you on the cheek when they leave bak to school. God you have to love them!! Makes it all worth while. Love my stepkids like they were my own flesh and blood!!

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