Stop One-Upping Me, Parents of Teenagers

Everyone has this friend: the one who always has to one up you.  You say Ouch, I stubbed my toe, and she says, You think that’s bad? I just had four toes amputated and my vagina almost fell off.

Who's the winner?

Who’s the winner?

That friend.

And in the competitive ring of parenting, one-ups-manship is a full-contact cardio sport.  Ever try to complain to someone about  wrangling your two kids through the grocery store only to be told that you should shut your pie hole, because she manages four while hobbling on one foot and enduring vagina pain?

How about that guy you know who’s got three– COUNT ‘EM one-two-three– kids in college at once? You do not  want to complain about the price of a gallon of organic milk in front of him.  Because he wins.  He’s got more expenses than you can ever dream of, so again, pie hole = shut.

In my social circle, which is wider than you’d expect given my charming personality “quirks”, the worst of the worst are the parents of teenagers.  How many times are they going to turn to me and say, Just. You. Wait. They act like my travails– having orange marker all over my couch or finding a Little Mermaid brush in my toilet– are fucking tiddly winks compared to what’s coming once my kids hit that hormone wall and start giving me the business.

In honor of my friends with teenagers, and you know who you are (and most of them don’t read this blog because they are “so fucking busy” assembling their lives after their teenagers have destroyed them by being all teenager-y), I have crafted a letter to you all asking for a truce in the Whose Got It Worse game.  I’m willing to concede the victory to you if you would please, please just for once tell me something awesome about your teenager.

For  more on this debate, give yourself the gift of clicking right here.


46 thoughts on “Stop One-Upping Me, Parents of Teenagers

  1. Calvin Trillin once wrote something along the lines of parents who criticize their kids in public should have them taken away. A little harsh but I get it. Don’t always heed, but I get it.

  2. Mine are not quite teens (ask me again next month when I can officially answer)…but mine now get themselves ready to go almost everywhere, don’t need a babysitter all the time, and are both (did you hear me BOTH) currently away at camp!!!! No matter what the bitchy teenage years bring, those toddler years were madness. Adorable, sticky sweet, lost-my-wits, exhausting madness. Like childbirth, you’ll forget most of the bad & remember all the cute funny stuff…when they are teens.

  3. I have said over and over again that I think teenagers get a bad rap. I am able to have deep conversations with my teenagers and their friends. They have opinions and passions and, sure, they think they know more than their parents, but so did I when I was their age. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but parenting teens is not all crap either. It’s actually pretty awesome.

  4. AMEN. Thank you for these posts! I believe Alyson – I think you remember basically just the good stuff from the “it’s a good thing you’re cute” baby/toddler/preschooler time. When you’re parenting a normal teen, do you have to wipe poop? Are you up multiple times every night? Do you still have to pack them a change of clothes when you go places? Do they spit food out in public? Do they scream bloodcurdlingly and writhe when you’re trying to help them? Do you have to worry that they will voluntarily put a choking hazard in their mouth? (Okay, don’t answer those last two.) Anyway. I adore my little kids, but it’s not what you’d call EASY. I also believe Shannon – teens are amazing people, along with the hormones.

  5. I don’t mind hearing the horror stories. I like to expect the worst, and then if things turn out better than that, I get the joy of being pleasantly surprised! That said, I am loving the comments from people describing positive things about having teenagers. It’s true, teens get a bad rap and it’s nice to hear some good things instead of just how awful they are!
    Oh, and I remember vividly talking to some of my girlfriends, when we were pregnant with our first kids, who had the EXACT same complaints you describe above – about women who told their labor and delivery horror stories. My friends’ reaction was, “Enough already, please stop scaring me! I’m scared enough as it is. If I hear ONE more story about bed rest or eclampsia or an emergency C-section, I am going to scream!”

  6. Currently there are three teenagers in my house and I love it! These people have become so much more fascinating as they have grown, I love hearing their ideas and viewpoints that echo mine but certainly don’t always mirror mine. A friend came in from out of state last week with her 1 and 3 year olds and they stayed for 5 eventful days. The experience left me so thankful for a house full of hormones!

  7. I must say my teen’s pretty awesome. He can run the microwave which means he can make his own breakfast and leave me to sleep peacefully and, on rare occasions, informs me that I’m still (somewhat) cool. Thus far, he’s done all the obnoxious annoying shit prior to teenage-dom.

  8. As the mother of three – count ’em three! – teenagers (and one 10 year old) let me tell you that it is wayyy easier to parent teenagers than small children (especially those of the 5 and under variety). Having teenagers is like having roomates who don’t pay, drink all the white milk, and eat your favourite cereal. That’s it. No biggie. Now don’t get me started on one-upping when my kids were little ’cause I’d win 🙂

    • Spoken like a real champion. And I think I can live with these vices you describe. I know where I will hide my cereal when the time comes! THanks for weighing in. (and omg, you have THREE teenagers and a 10 year. — YOU WIN)

  9. My daughter will be 14 on Sunday. Sure, there’s the eye rolls, the smart mouth, the hormone fueled drama… But damn it, there’s also seeing her rush to open doors for people with their hands full, giving up her seats for the elderly people she sees standing, helping kids so much younger than her with seemingly unending patience, her love for all the strays she sees, her budding love affair with baking and seeing her blossom into a smart, funny, talented, caring, wonderful young lady. It makes my heart burst with pride. Even when she’s running her mouth. 🙂

    However, I do reserve the right to get that shotgun MY daddy promised me t meet boys at the door with. Maternal privilege.

  10. There are so many great things about the teenage years. Among them: you can go out without hiring a sitter, they become people you can have long conversations with, and you start to get ideas about what they’ll be like as adults – a whole new way to know your kids. I think it’s just a different set of issues that make teens so hard, but it’s not necessarily harder than parenting little ones where you’re on duty all the time (at least it’s much less physically tiring.) I also think that from age 4 to puberty, parenting gets easier every year, so maybe puberty comes as a bit of a shock.

  11. Ooh, this is a total pet peeve of mine: parents who say, “Just you wait, it only gets harder.” What good does that do anybody? My kids are 5, 4, and 2 and I do my best to tell parents of newborns, “It gets sooo much easier.” Then again, maybe the truth is that it doesn’t get harder or easier, it just gets different?

    • My experience so far is that it’s different. About a year ago, I had to pull my son out of the main worship service in church because he was acting up. My daughter was complaining for some reason and so my wife and daughter followed me out. One of the counselors to the bishop (read: assistant pastor) came out to talk to us. He told me, “He’ll grow out of it.” I said, “Yeah, ask So-And-So about how my daughter used to shriek in church.” (She could be heard in the chapel all the way out in the foyer, so I’d have to take her outside, too.) “She doesn’t shriek anymore, does she? Yep, he’ll grow out of it.”

  12. I have a teenager daughter and two younger daughters aged 7 and 3. I CANNOT WAIT for the other two to become teenagers. Markers on the couch – check, random items in the toilet – check. Yes, I’m ready for two more teenagers.

  13. I haven’t faced this yet, and I’m grateful. My wife and I have a smart alecky 11-year old daughter with ADHD and a very active son with autism. We are fortunate that most who know us are at least sympathetic, if not empathetic or helpful, probably because they see us struggling with our children AND our own health issues.

    We love our children fiercely, warts and all, by the way.

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