Câlins


Il y a quelques jours j’ai publié sur les difficultés que j’avais à faire dormir Lucas. Vous pouvez lire la publication (en anglais) ici. En somme, Lucas est un bébé adorable et souriant mais qui a du mal à s’endormir seul. Dans un moment de panique sans doute causé par un excès d’hormones (car je ne suis pas d’un naturel paniqué), je me suis vue passer les deux prochaines années à endormir Lucas en le berçant ou en l’allaitant à toutes les 30 minutes. Ce n’est pas tiré par les cheveux: je l’ai fait pour Colin, Marie et Sarah. Et pourtant, après 6 enfants, je devrais savoir que l’art de s’endormir c’est comme la propreté: ça ne se force pas, ça vient de l’enfant ou ça ne vient pas. Bien qu’il soit possible d’aider nos bébés à développer une bonne hygiène du sommeil en les encourageant à apprendre à s’endormir seuls, j’ai du mal à décider quoi faire avec Lucas. J’ai essayé de le mettre au lit somnolent mais réveillé, J’ai essayé de le mettre au lit endormi, mais Lucas se réveille aussitôt que je le dépose. J’ai dû me rendre à l’évidence: soit je l’endort sur moi ou dans la balançoire, soit je le laisse crier.

Il est parfois nécéssaire de laisser un bébé pleurer afin qu’il se rendorme seul. Certains parents (comme moi) éprouvent beaucoup de réticence à laisser un bébé pleurer et choisissent plutôt d’aider l’enfant à se rendormir en l’allaitant ou en le berçant ou en lui redonnant sa suce qu’il a laissé tomber. J’ai essayé la méthode du 5-10-15 avec Colin, Marie et Sarah avec plus ou moins de succès. Mais il semble que plus je vieilli — et plus je me rapproche de la fin des bébés — plus je veux apprécier mes bébés et non me battre avec eux. J’ai dû beaucoup porter Marie et Colin et je regrette de ne pas l’avoir fait avec plus de coeur: en rétrospective, ils ne sont pas restés bébés bien longtemps. Oui leur petite enfance était intense. Mais il me semble, aprés réflection, que j’aurais pu la rendre moins intense en ayant une meilleure attitude. Ça n’aurait rien changé aux besoins de mes bébés mais j’en aurais sans doute de meilleurs souvenirs.

C’est ainsi que j’étais indécise, paralysée par la fatigue, prise entre mon besoin de sommeil et mon appréhension à laisser Lucas pleurer. Puis est arrivée une journée de fous. Un samedi où j’étais seule avec une montagne de travail et 8 enfants. Ève dormait et Lucas, bien, Lucas ne dormait pas. Il était complètement épuisé, incapable de s’endormir au sein ou dans l’écharpe. Au bout du rouleau, j’ai dis à Lucas: “Bien si tu vas pleurer mon bonhomme, aussi bien de pleurer dans ton lit!” et je l’ai mis au lit pendant que je faisais quelques tâches. Au bout de 15 minutes, incapable de le laisser pleurer plus longtemps, je suis allée le rechercher. C’est alors qu’il a poussé un long soupir, a fermé les yeux et s’en endormi dans mes bras en finissant de sangloter. Ensuite, je suis tombée sur cette illustration au dos du dernier Youpi! des enfants. C’en était trop.

Lucas, c’est mon nounours. Je ne peux pas le laisser pleurer quand il a seulement besoin d’être tenu bien au chaud. Lucas n’a pas besoin de se faire une maman de neige quand il se sent seul. C’est vrai que le sommeil est une composante importante de la santé en général et qu’une mauvaise hygiène du sommeil entraîne des problèmes de toute sorte chez le bébé et l’enfant. Là où je décroche, c’est à l’idée que l’apprentissage du sommeil passe par l’apprentissage de l’autonomie. Car le besoin d’affection et d’attachement est au moins aussi important à la survie du petit humain que le besoin de repos.

Lorsque je vais repenser aux premiers mois de Lucas, je veux me souvenir des câlins, pas des cris.

Twenty-Eleven


New Year’s Day must be right around the corner judging by the high rotation of TV ads for debt consolidation and weight loss products. January must be Boxing Month for the good folks at Fitness Depot, Weight Watchers and gyms everywhere. I have been thinking of re-joining Weight Watcher for a while but I don’t want to do it in January. Smacks too much of pre-ordered failure.

(As an aside, my spell-checker is taking issue with the word “pre-order” which is leading me down a philosophical path of reflection on pre-ordering. This should be the neologism of the year, a completely made-up notion for the purpose of online marketing. Think about it. What does pre-order mean?  Before ordering. What is there before ordering? Not a whole lot. You order pizza because you want pizza. The order comes before the pizza but what comes before the order? The stomach grumble? The twinkle in the eye? Ordering is by definition an initiation of something. We only started pre-ordering stuff when Amazon thought it would be a good way of preventing potential clients from walking over to their nearest bookstore once the latest Harry Potter became available. Might as well wait for UPS, it’s been pre-ordered…)

Last year, I poached a retrospective from another blog. It’s a series of questions meant to make you go back on the year just over. They are superficial — what did you do on your birthday? — rather than life-changing but it’s very entertaining a year later. It’s like The Economist’s The World in… forecast issue. It’s always a good read when it comes out but not as much as it is a year later.

As it turned out, 2011 was The Year of the Twins. I spent the first 9 months of the year pregnant and the last 3 caring for two infants. And that sums it up! Here’s one question that makes me roll on the floor laughing:

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I was committed to losing those damned “last 10 pounds” but I put on 30 instead. I wanted to start hosting dinner parties for my adult friends, without kids. Instead I had an army of friends making me frozen dinners and bringing supper to my house. I wanted to take the children swimming and skating more often. Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha!Ha! *Wheeze* . I wanted to make more time for friends and family, instead I lost touch with people I care deeply about. I have only managed to keep close to my closest friends because they don’t take no for an answer and invite themselves over. It seems like the twins have made us even more insular than we already were.

Here’s another side-stitcher:

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Army Half Marathon. Getting out of bed at 5:00 am to run before work last spring.

ROAR! Getting out of bed at 4:45 to grab the first bus, getting off downtown and running 7.5 km at the crack of dawn in frigid weather before heading to work. It was cold, it was wet… and I have wonderful memories of it! Running will ruin your brain that way… This year, I hope to go for a walk. Once.

But I wasn’t laughing anymore when I started reflecting on this one:

13. What did you get really excited about?

We had twins and that was exciting but more like a slow burn. For sure, the birth was a lifetime high. But that must be, in my opinion, one of the saddest part of being constantly exhausted and busy: I don’t get excited about anything anymore. The grind of getting anything done gets the excitement factor out of things that should have been — or used to be — exciting. Like running my boss’ re-election campaign. Nothing is exciting anymore, it’s all in degrees of “exhausting”: somewhat, mildly, very, completely…

And maybe this will be my Twin-First-Year-Totally-Manageable-New-Year-Resolution: get excited about something. Change my outlook. Stop seeing things in degrees of exhaustion and start getting excited again! (I feel like I should add some exclamation marks here)!!!!!!!!

Put down the book and pick-up the baby


I am so exhausted! Fatigue oozes from every pore of my body.

Nights were getting better but they took a turn for the worst. Then the babies got sick. Sick infant twins is an extreme sport. Over a period of 2 or 3 weeks, I went from high-functioning-tired to what’s-mah-name- tired.  I sit down to nurse the babies. I look at the feed-and-sleep log and try to remember who should get the breast and who should get the bottle. The squiggles on the page make no sense. I read the words carefully. I understand the words but I don’t understand how they fit together. Why was I looking at the notebook again?

The twins are screaming. I know I should sit down to nurse them but I can’t. My back hurts too much from sitting in odd positions for so long. Three months of bad posture, following three months of late multiple pregnancy, added to almost a year of no exercise have taken their toll. My muscles are stiff. Who was that person who ran a half-marathon three months before she got pregnant? She was running 10km 3 times a week? She was fit, she was driven. I’m just a soggy mess of back aches and sore legs.  I’m 20 pounds overweight but I just ate 6 pieces of peppermint bark and half a bag of truffles. It’s not even good but I couldn’t stop.

I cry a little because I don’t want to nurse again but eventually I sit down, calm down and do what I have to do. The last step in a long walk of things I have to do. I don’t do anything that I don’t have to do. Except maybe writing. When I write, I feel like I should do something else. Something that feels like a chore. So I write as I try to soothe Lucas to sleep. A little cheat. I am emotionally exhausted from the endless stream of competing demands. They say that the caregiver needs care too but this couldn’t possibly be when people will go hungry or the toilet will walk away? The caregiver can only take care of herself once everybody has been taken care of. And my job is never, ever, done. Sometimes I feel like God has “blessed” me with a large family and left me for dead.

“It’s me, it’s me, it’s me O Lord, standing in need of prayer…”

Two weeks ago, I decided to see if I could encourage my body to produce more milk. Enough to feed both babies. I read Making More Milk (which I highly recommend whether or not you have milk supply issues, just to understand the milk-making process. A miracle, really, just like the rest of the baby-making business). I learned that a baby’s breast milk intake peaks at 6 weeks and remains the same until the baby starts solids at around 6 months of age. So when a supplementing mother like me finds herself increasing the supplement, it’s not because the baby needs more milk, it’s because the mother is producing less breast milk. All of a sudden, I was staring down the end of breastfeeding my twins and that wasn’t on.

I’m just so tired of bottles. Tired of washing bottles and prepping bottles and boiling water and cooling water and making sure there is enough formula. I hate it. It stinks. It makes my babies stink. The other evening, I was too tired to prep the night bottles so I went to bed without  bottles. The babies were hungry, they spent the night nursing on not enough milk. They were fussy and impatient. I was sore and exhausted. It never occurred to me to get the bottles already: 5 minutes of pain for 2-3 hours of sleep. Instead, I decided to nurse around the clock for a couple of days to see if my milk production would increase. It did, but not enough. Lucas and Eve had just started sleeping longer stretches at night: up to 8 hours for Lucas and 6 for Eve. It stopped. I managed to get their supplement down to 3-4 oz a day but it wasn’t enough. The babies went from being content and engaging to fussy and demanding.  3 or 4 days became 5 then 7. I couldn’t accept that my body was not able to feed my babies. And the more tired I became, the more frustrated the babies were on the breast. When I smashed my van’s rear-view mirror out of sheer inattentiveness, my husband sat me down and said: “The twins need more food and you need more sleep.” I increased their supplement to 6 oz a day each and we seem to be on the mend. But the babies have not resumed sleeping longer stretches at night.

I stop at the Tim Hortons’ Drive-Thru to buy snacks for the children. The girl at the other end of the mic is asking me a question on one side, my daughter is giving me ordering instructions on the other. The words come-in through my right and left ears and crash in my brain. It’s like they’re both speaking Finnish or something. I am tired and confused.

The battle has now moved from making more milk to straightening out Lucas’ sleep patterns. Why do I  need a fight to keep me going? Is it because it keeps me awake? Lucas is a cat-napper who is unable to self-soothe. He falls asleep being held or nursed or rocked and if transferred to a bed, will wake-up at the end of his 30-minute sleep cycle. In my state of sleepless stupor, I seem to have lost my main coping skill, that is my perspective. I am locked in a battle to the death with my son: he will fall asleep on his own, in his bed, and stay asleep. It’s not that I mind holding him now. But I have vivid memories of other children waking me up every 2 hours for 12, 18 months, to nurse or have their soother replaced. I am determined not to go there with twins. I cannot take one more day of sleep deprivation, let alone 1 year!

I re-read Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and ordered its companion Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins. I read excerpts from The No-Cry Sleep Solution. I re-re-re-read  Happiest Baby on the Block. Expect a book review post coming soon.

My son is swaddled and soothed and put in bed drowsy but awake after short intervals of wakefulness. And yet, he will not fall asleep or stay asleep during the day. When I started having anxiety attacks at the sound of his cry, I knew that things had to change. Lucas is not a difficult baby. He just wants to be held. He is happy and engaging. He just wants to be held. Yes, he is far more demanding than Eve. But that’s because Eve is not a normal baby. Eve is more like an ornament: her day is structured around periods of eating followed by periods of smiling/cuteness and long periods of sleeping, repeated over a 24 h period. She’s a Little Flower, he’s a Teddy Bear.

At this point, I think I know what I need to do. I am a mother of 8. I need to put down the books and pick-up the baby. The rest will sort itself out.

Dudes
Dudes

Accommodements festifs


J’ai terminé mon magasinage des Fêtes aujourd’hui et j’aimerais célébrer cette occasion importante en partageant quelques réflexions de circonstance. J’espère que je pourrai le faire avec clareté. Que voulez-vous? On ne peut pas manquer de sommeil pendant trois mois sans que le cerveau y passe. J’ai démoli le rétroviseur de ma van en reculant trop près d’une colonne de béton. Au moins, mal écrire ne coûte rien. (devinez ce que je vais recevoir pour Noël? J’ai donné la permission à mon mari d’emballer le rétroviseur.)

L’approche des Fête apporte avec elle deux phénomènes contemporains à la fois complémentaires et mutuellement exclusifs: les appels à la tolérance et à l’intolérance religieuse, accompagnés de myopie institutionelle de saison. D’un côté on appelle à la co-existence, prouvant son progressisme par des directives aussi inutiles que mal avisées. De l’autre on envoie le bras d’honneur aux immigrants en leur disant de retourner chez-eux s’ils ne sont pas capable de voir un sapin de Noël (Vous pensez que j’exagère? Merci Facebook pour les status copié-et-recollé-si-vous-êtes-d’accord-et -que-vous-connaissez-quelqu’un-qui-est-vivant-aujourd’hui-parceque-vous-êtes-trop-pauvre-pour-engager-un-tueur-à-gage). La magie de Noël est graduellement remplacée par la stupidité de Noël, et la descente s’accélère à chaque année. Allez lire et relire “Mon beau sapin” de Pierre Foglia, ça vous mettra dans l’ambiance.

Mettons une chose au clair. Les immigrants et les minorités religieuses (ce par quoi je désigne ceux qui ne sont ni rien du tout, ni d’origine vaguement judéo-chrétienne) n’ont rien à voir avec les sensibilités politiquement correctes des adeptes de la Tolérance. Ce ne sont pas des musulmans qui se plaignent des sapins de Noël à Service Canada. Les directrices d’école qui annulent les spectacles de Noël dans les écoles publiques ne sont pas juives observantes. Les fonctionnaires du Ministère de la Famille qui interdisent le symbolisme religieux dans les garderies à 5$ ne sont pas des extrêmistes religieux. Ce serait plutôt le contraire: regardez autour de vous, parmis vos connaissances, sur votre page Facebook, dans votre compte Twitter. Les gens qui s’indignent qu’on leur souhaite joyeux Noël et qui montent religieusement leur sapin festif, se sont des  canadiens de souche qui ont tourné le dos à la religion de leurs parents et qui démontrent par leur indignation leur manque de tolérance et de compréhension envers leurs propres traditions. Seulement, ç’a l’air moins hargneux quand on le fait enveloppé dans le drapeau de la tolérance.

Bien que canadienne et blanche, je crois pouvoir parler au nom de ceux qui pratiquent les rituels et enseignements de leur foi. J’ai 8 enfants. Je crois que la vie commence à la conception. Je considère que ma fertilité est une chose positive et non une maladie qui doit être éliminée à l’aide de médicaments et d’appareils. J’ai en apparence plus en commun avec une femme musulmane couverte des pieds à la tête qu’avec la plupart des femmes de mon âge. Je vis au Canada où je suis heureuse de pouvoir vivre librement de manière aussi rétrograde que je le désire (quoique je ne me trouve pas rétrograde… en fait, je me trouve plutôt avant-gardiste. C’est comme les prénoms: ça devient tellement vieux que ça revient à la mode!). Bref, je crois que les minorités culturelles et religieuses au Canada et particulièrement les immigrants, sont heureuses de pouvoir pratiquer en paix. Je serais surprise d’apprendre que le sapin de Noël, aujourd’hui plus associé aux excès de surconsommation qu’au bébé Jésus, les menace d’une manière ou d’une autre. Ce ne sont pas les immigrants qui ont sortis Jésus de la crèche, on l’a fait nous-mêmes.

Et pendant qu’on angoisse sur les sapins chez Service Canada et les crèches dans les garderies, un père à l’honneur blessé envoie la moitié de sa famille, incluant sa première épouse dans un mariage polygame et abusif, au fond des écluses à Kingston Taliban-style. Un long dossier d’abus et de peur tel que rapporté aux autorités par les trois jeunes victimes est clos prématurément et sans explication. On spécule aujourd’hui que c’était par sensibilité à la différence culturelle.

Est-ce qu’on peut se sortir le nez des guirlandes et s’occuper des vrais problèmes?

Fait dodo!


Les jumeaux ont 12 semaines et je poursuis ma quête d’une meilleure nuit de sommeil. J’ai relu mes livres sur l’hygiène du sommeil et j’ai réalisé (une fois de plus) que plusieurs de mes problèmes avec certains enfants étaient directement reliés à une insuffisance de sommeil ou une mauvaise hygiène du sommeil. Les jumeaux ne font pas exception, ou plutôt, Lucas ne fait pas exception. Je dois commencer à respecter la qualité de son sommeil de jour si je veux avoir un bon sommeil de nuit, ce qui veut dire que je ne peux pas vadrouiller à gauche et à droite toute la journée avec les bébés: ils doivent être à la maison dans leur lit pour faire deux bonnes siestes par jour. Bonjour magasinage en-ligne! J’ai aussi remis les pendules à l’heure — pour ainsi dire — quant à l’heure de coucher de David qui devrait être entre 19:00 et 19:30 au plus tard et non 21:00 dans mon lit en écoutant les nouvelles.

Dans une famille nombreuse avec des enfants entre 15 ans et 2 mois, l’heure du coucher requiert un effort soutenu. Pendant ma grossesse, j’avais acquis une vitesse de croisière qui me permettais de coucher les enfants un après l’autre en ordre d’âge. Évidemment, les ados se couchent eux-même. Maintenant que les jumeaux sont nés, David et Sarah ont de la compétition pour la fenêtre de 19:00-19:30. Les bébés sont prêt à être couchés pour la nuit vers 19:00 et doivent prendre leur bain, prendre leur bouteille et être allaités avant de se coucher. Si j’attends trop longtemps et qu’ils deviennent sur-fatigués, je n’arrive pas à coucher Lucas. J’ai donc du développer l’art de porter les jumeaux fatigués pendant que je couche David et Sarah.

Continue reading “Fait dodo!”

And furthermore … (still on yoga pants)


I wanted to add a few thoughts — such as my sleep-deprived brain can conceive — on the yoga pants. My last post was about dropping the parenting ball more than yoga pants. But what do I think about clothing bans?

First, let’s clarify a few things. The ban on yoga pants is not across the board. You may want to read this piece from Kelly Egan in the Ottawa Citizen. He writes:

According to the board’s website, every school is required to have a dress code, which may involve uniforms. It is to be consistent with the teachings of the Catholic church and is accordance with parental views. The code does not appear to contain the word “yoga.”

(…)

The policy does state: “This (code) may be as general as addressing the wearing of ball caps and the length of skirts and shorts.” There is no Lulu sub-clause, or any hint about dealing with a student wearing yoga pants, a ball cap and a short skirt.

One school in Barrhaven reportedly banned yoga pants as part of their dress code. The problem with banning a piece of clothing is that it doesn’t prevent inappropriate dress more than banning a breed of dog prevents dog bites. Ban yoga pants and the girls will wear skinny jeans. The problem with modesty and the quest for attention through revealing clothing runs much deeper than the particular make and  model of the pants. Children learn trough example and repetition. It is somewhat naive to think that you can ram some modesty in a teenage girl who dresses for attention just by banning a piece of clothing. Pants are pants. The problem is how you wear them.
My oldest daughter wears yoga pants and skinny jeans at school. Yet, you would never see her as dressing inappropriately. She is naturally modest. My two middle daughters are competitive gymnasts and spend a fair amount of time training in what amounts to a bathing suit. They need more formation on modesty than their older sister. Banning yoga pants for girls such as my oldest daughter serves no purpose other than send parents scrambling to the nearest Old Navy. As for the other girls, just type “girls in school uniform” in the google search  box… wait… uh, don’t…
Am I saying that I oppose clothing bans? Well, yes and no. Teenagers need to learn that there is such a thing as inappropriate attire. The school can and should determine what is appropriate dress for a learning environment. We’ll let the bar scene determine the appropriate attire for picking-up a one-night-stand. And the world-wide-web for getting the attention of pedophiles and other deviants. But schools can’t hide from the subjective nature of sending a kid home to change behind the curtain of banning a piece of clothing and calling it a day. Yes, good taste is in the eye of the beholder. However, the beholders who are sending your children home to change — because you wouldn’t or couldn’t or just didn’t notice — are the same beholders of the jobs your children will be refused, the raises your children will be denied and the opportunities your children will seek out. Some lessons are better learned before you have a family to support, I’m just saying.
Another problem with clothing bans is that they tend, by nature, to overwhelmingly target girls. Yes, there is the odd ban of graphic tees and bottom-grazing jeans that apply to boys. But short-length provisions, belly-shirts bans and yoga pants clauses apply to girls… Ok, they won’t spell it out, boys are also prohibited from wearing yoga pants. But believe me, if a boy shows-up in high school wearing a tight-fitting belly shirt (and it’s not Halloween or cross-dressing fundraiser day), he will be sent home by his peers faster than the Principal can grab his parents’ phone number. Clothing bans that target female attire reinforce the message that girls are responsible for boys’ sinful impulses and must be reigned-in. Same idea as the burka, just different degrees. Bras are more distracting to boys than they are to girls, that’s how they are wired (the boys, not the bras). But boys have to learn to live with distractions of a sexual nature without acting on their impulses. That’s also a lesson better learned sooner than later.
Post-script:
One of my children took issue with my previous post on raising teenagers (it may have been one of my teenagers…) and told me with a surprising (to me) mix of scorn and sarcasm (paraphrasing): “You write that you are raising adults, not teenagers. That’s so ridiculous. You’re treating us like children!” Now I feel like I should specify, in case this was not clear to other readers, that by “raising adults” I didn’t mean treating teens like adults. I meant raising your children with a vision of the adults you want them to become. Clear?

Yoga pants


My oldest daughter is 15. Last weekend, her school band teacher organized a music retreat complete with master classes, section sessions and the dreaded sleepover. Her band teacher is excellent. The music program at her school is top notch. When I go to their concerts I always get all choked-up:  I have excellent memories of high school music class. We also had a few “music retreats” although there wasn’t much music during our nuit blanche. They were strictly a team building exercise where much nerdy fun was had. In my days, only the nerds played music. Now it’s cool. At bed time we would pull blue mats out of the gymnasium’s storage unit and crash all co-ed on the floor. Two male teachers, music and English, would sleep over and we would all head to the greasy spoon next door first thing in the morning for some bacon and eggs. I’m sure the teachers had some coffee too.

(Open parenthesis: weren’t those the days eh? When two male teachers could supervise a mixed sleepover party at school? Now, at my kids’ elementary school a few years ago, the custodian was the only male staff. Everyone else was female. My 2nd-grader would come home literally groaning in pain from needing to go pee day after day. One day on the drive home I told him: “Why don’t you go pee just before the end of class? This way you can make it home”. He answered that he never went to the toilet at school because the stalls didn’t lock properly and the older kids would barge in and pull you out as you did your business. Nice. I went and talked to someone about it and was told that this was going on in the male bathroom and there was no male staff to enforce discipline in the male bathroom. In other words, unless the custodian was handy, those kids could have been snorting cocaine in the boys bathroom, no female teacher would dare walk in there and chance a disciplinary hearing. That’s brat power for you. Close parenthesis)

As far as team-building goes, this may sound self-serving in light of what’s coming later in this post, the sleepovers were fun but nothing more. Massed bands concerts and band competitions, when we got to work, anticipate and sweat together were far more instrumental in building team spirit than watching scary movies and eating chips late in the night in band class. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter whether this was the be-all-end-all of team building because our family has a strict rule against sleepovers in any way, shape or form. Our daughter was going to participate in the music retreat but be excused from the sleeping part. I’ll let you guess how this went over.

I will not replay the (many) conversations we had with our daughter on the subject but they replayed themselves on a call-in show following the decision by a local high school to — as it was reported — ban yoga pants as part of the school’s dress code.

One of my daughter’s complaint on the unfairness of the sleepover rule was that parents would be supervising the retreat and that everybody else was allowing it. A local call-in show was asking parents what they thought of the yoga pants ban and spray-painted-on apparel. One after the other, parents were repeating variations of the same platitudes about how “Teens are gonna do what teens are gonna do” and “We did the same thing at their age”. In other words, there is nothing we can do about it. Girls are going to wear inappropriate, revealing, clothing and boys are going to be turned-on by it and that’s the way the world goes round. Banning yoga pants is not going to change anything so why bother? And I’m supposed to feel all warm and fuzzy that some of these similar-themed parents are supervising the sleepover retreat? So when Jimmy and Jessica decide to go find  a quiet spot somewhere will they brush it off as “Teens are gonna do what teens are gonna do” and “We did the same thing at their age”?

Being a teenager is not an end-state. It’s a transition to adulthood. I often joke that toddlers and teenagers are surprisingly similar: self-centered with poor impulse-control, an unrefined sense of fairness and a complete unawareness of their limitations. Teenagers have one foot still firmly set into childhood and the other in their future. Teens will challenge and push limits, this is their job. But if pushing is the defining feature of teenage-hood we are not helping them by removing what they are pushing against. Growing into adulthood and responsibilities is not learning to live without limits but learning to manage them. As a parent, my job is to form and to educate and this is achieved by giving teenagers something to push against, like a tutor on a tomato plant. And of course, as teenagers grow in age and wisdom and as they show their judgement to be trustworthy, limits gradually evolve. Some of them are removed, others morph into something else. And others will remain for the rest of their lives, hopefully.

I am not raising teens. I am raising adults. It takes a lot of work, self-awareness and constant re-evaluation. Some days I suck at it.  But this is the game of parenthood. Play ball.