Teenagers and Curfews
Sometimes when I am out shopping at the grocery store I see other mothers who look just like me. Bags under their eyes, stifling yawns, clothing that looks like it was put on haphazardly or possibly slept in. Our carts are filled with snack foods, frozen pizzas, and coffee.
It’s the frozen pizzas that are the real give away.
We recognize each other. We nod knowingly, exhaustedly, at each other as our carts pass in the aisles. We are in the club that no one tells you about before you have children. Should the Zombie Apocalypse happen, we’d be mistaken for zombies.
No, we aren’t new mothers. There aren’t any cute babies with delicious smelling heads strapped to our chests. We aren’t awake all night holding cranky babies. We aren’t watching infomercials while silently praying for our babies to fall asleep.
No, we are the parents of teenagers. Those who are old enough to drive and have curfews past our bedtimes. We wish we could still strap them to our chests, at least we’d know where the hell they are. Parenting babies might not have been easier, but it was certainly much more obvious.
We are the curfew police. Making sure that our children arrive home safely and on time.
And for the record, teenage heads? Do not smell that good.
I wish my son would just do something wrong so I could ground him for a week! Then I could catch up on my sleep. I am so tired.
Oh I know.
I am almost looking for reasons to ground him.
I keep asking why he can’t hang out with his friends at a reasonable hour. I have officially turned into my grandmother.
It never ends this tug between letting them go and holding on. A balancing act, one where just as you have your footing secure underneath you something shifts. I feel lately like there is no black and white answers to the dilemmas I face parenting teenagers. We have moved into an area that is entirely grey. Most of my friends don’t yet have older teenagers and often I feel like the advice they offer is not unlike the first-time pregnant woman offering advice on how best to deal with a tantruming two year old. The advice might be sound or helpful, but it isn’t the same as actually having gone through the trenches.
When I was a teenager and in high school I had a 2am curfew and then no curfew at all. I frequently came home as the sun was rising. My mother never waited up for me. Even though I was a good kid who didn’t get into any (real) trouble, I don’t want my own children out until that hour on a regular basis, or even ever. I am unsure what a reasonable time is to expect my teenagers home. For now it has been on a case by case basis, but I am quickly growing weary of the constant negotiations.
Perhaps the most difficult part about parenting teenagers is that it doesn’t seem so very long ago. I can clearly remember what it felt like to be that age. How I felt my own parents were so old and so very out of touch. How I thought I would parent differently, that I’d be a cool parent.
Instead I am that glazed eyed parent wandering the grocery store,having spent the previous night sitting on the couch in the darkened living room counting down the minutes to curfew.
What do you think is an appropriate curfew for teenagers? Do you remember having a curfew when you were that age? Do you think it would be okay if I just locked my teenagers in a plastic bubble until they turn thirty?