I remember, way back when Girl Child was little and wasn’t yet capable of articulating the many random thoughts that were probably floating around in her tiny baby mind even then, I used to tease her and say, “Pooter, when are you gonna start talking?” And she would burble or chew on her foot or smile and my one-sided conversation would come to a close.
I remember those times fondly because that same baby is now 14. And long gone are the days when I have to ask her when she’s going to speak up. That chatterbox gets a-turnin’ early in the morning and doesn’t stop cranking out run-on commentary until she’s in deep sleep again at night.
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But the more things change, the more they stay the same. Packs of Pampers aren’t loaded into my shopping cart, formula no longer lines the shelves in the kitchen, but I still find a surprising number of similarities between my daughter the baby and my daughter the teenager. And in between, I often find comfort in my sofa, a bowl of cookies 'n' cream, and a long talk with the Lord at the end of the day. It’s actually kind of déjà vu-ish.
Toddlers need to be cleaned up after. And though she has a list of responsibilities to tackle around the house, apparently teenagers do too. I am habitually amazed how quickly she can rip apart the same bedroom she just spent hours straightening up.
Toddlers need to be told repeatedly not to do something. I have learned through experience that teenagers need that plus a heap of repeated reminders about what they’re actually supposed to do, too.
Toddlers get cranky and throw tantrums. Guess what? Teenagers do, too. Girl Child’s new favorite thing is dragging my name into a five-syllable word: “Moooommmmyyyyyyuuuhhhhh.”
Toddlers have a way of getting really quiet when they’re doing something they have no business doing. Teenagers think they’re being slick, but it’s just a pattern on repeat.
Sometimes, in the aftermath of a Teenzilla day, I’ll reflect on how much I’ve heard my own voice, from the morning bustle to the evening wind-down. To remind her to turn the water off when she’s brushing her teeth. To nudge her about taking the trash out. To send her back to the kitchen to put vegetables on her plate. And I silently congratulate myself for making it through another day without the assistance of gin and juice.
So which stage of childhood is the most exhausting? Chasing toddlers or checking teenagers?
Image via katerha/Flickr