I firmly believe that the teen years are the most difficult to navigate. They grow into an adults body with the onset of hormone changes, which seems to throw their whole body into shock. They suddenly overnight, will decide they are extremely self conscious. They become combative and go through friends more often than they change their underwear and tops at the list….they are completely egocentric.
One day they are a cute little kid, full of life, and kid around easily. Overnight, they start to grow so fast that it is perceivable to the naked and untrained eye. Our son was obviously growing in his thirteenth year. His appetite was voracious as a hungry lion in the midst of a drought in the Kalahari Desert. During that summer, I noticed he had deep purple lines running horizontally across his back. Upon closer inspection I could see that they were stretch marks. Since these were going across his back horizontally, it meant he was growing vertically towards the sky. And he was doing so rapidly. The hair on his legs was getting really thick and one day his voiced cracked. I was raised in an all girl family. I wasn’t familiar with how much time was required for his voice to transition to his adult male voice. It happened in under a month.
At this same time he became deeply self conscious. He hated his hair. He would no longer allow me to take his picture and resented it when I did capture a shot of him. Taking him anywhere with me would be a devastating experience. He really didn’t want to be seen out in public with his mom.
We had always enjoyed a close relationship. One day he woke up, and by all accounts, I became his public enemy number one. I could no longer offer friendly advice since I had apparently become stupid at this same time. He became willful and touchy. Sometimes the smallest thing would set him off and our day ruined all because I said something he didn’t like. It didn’t even have to be something I said to him.
He had friends. Except for a precious few, he cycled through his friends on a weekly basis. It didn’t help his social life that he had become, as a result of puberty, very critical of anyone that disagreed with him. He had to be right in all situations. If you didn’t recognize his “rightness” then you were stupid and of no consequence. I was thoroughly at a loss as to where my precious boy had gone. There was someone living in my house that looked like him and sounded like him but that is where the similarities stopped abruptly.
Probably the hardest to understand was the selfish, ego centric narcissist he had become. It didn’t matter the situation, everything pertained to him. If I came home from the grocery store and hadn’t bought something he desired then I wasn’t thinking about him. I forgot to mention I was also supposed to be a mind reader. If I was watching a show on television and he had decided he wanted to watch another program he would pick up the remote and change the channel. It was all too much to bear.
It was said to me once that when your child enters puberty, it will seem like they have been kidnapped by aliens and a different child was put in your house. This “other” child will look, sound and move like the child you brought into the world. When they are about 22 or 23 the aliens will bring back your child and take back the substitute. As for me, I intended to light a beacon fire and put out the welcome mat for my son’s return.