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Post - Teens
by KJ Hannah Greenberg



Many parents lament preadolescent hygiene, homework, and honesty. Our middle grade youngsters continue to be notorious for skipping baths, battling books, and buffeting themselves against any bulwark of the straight and narrow. Their slightly older siblings, likewise, deserve the press they get about interpersonal goings on. Family dynamics are never static when high school sons and daughters experiment, especially when they fool around with the very wayward behaviors and substances against which we warn them.


As for our emerging adult children, we heed them too little. Somewhere en route to potty training and to weaning from the breast, we mothers and fathers failed to accept that when our offspring become legal adults, they might not simultaneously become functional ones. I’m referring to those “independent” souls, who work at differentiating themselves from us, those children that have little trouble asking for money, for car keys, for money, for tolerance with their continuing experimentation, for money, for acceptance, and for money.


Our soldiers, on furlough, feel no compunction about eating leftovers meant for their dads’ lunches, our collegiate daughters, on break, seek compassionate leave from household chores given menstrual cramps, but remain fit enough to go out with the post-teens they haven’t seen “for entire hours.” Similarly, our young marrieds want none of our help (except money), yet, call the day after we drive two hours in each direction, to deliver food, to ask if we can make that drive again, the following week, with packets of money.


At such junctures, we burrow like hedgehogs, declare that wine is fine midday, or eat enough chocolate-covered raisins to nod dully in agreement that cramps excuse duties but not dates. The intrepid among us, in balance, stupidly stare, for long spans, at pictures taken of our kids when those boys and girls were not digging through parental birth control supplies or petty cash, but were occupying themselves with fishtail braids or major league baseball shirts.


Sure, we can and do regard our post-teens through the lens of therapists, our own BFFs, and our spouses, especially those spouses we wake after midnight to vent. We tell ourselves we did okay as parents; the post-teen years are just another stage through which we must learn to breathe. Sooner or later, we’ll adjust to hearing: our sons list all of the ways the army trains them to kill, our daughters describe the street people they invited home, and our marrieds explain that visiting our first grandchildren more than once a day is disrespectful. We’ll continue to accept the abandoned pets our kids adopted and then left with us, too. After all, our emerging adult children can’t grow up too quickly.



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