August 24, 2007

Another sign

I read a parenting book once which called the teenage years the "age of the critic." Teenagers will watch their parents sharply, ready to speak up with criticism or advice. I suppose it's a necessary stage, as the adolescent needs to figure out his own sense of self, separate from his parents. But it can be annoying. I can't tell you how often my boys will jump into a conversation to correct my grammar or politely point out something I've done wrong. Boy in Black has a way of pointing out things in a calm, logical way that I find maddening, and then grinning when he knows he's gotten to me. I probably encourage this behavior, too, because even when he is deliberately provoking me, I end up laughing.

Yesterday, I had just hung up the telephone when With-a-Why, my youngest, the sweet child who is not officially a teenager for a few more months, tugged at my elbow.

"Mom, I have to tell you something." He spoke in a calm, serious tone, as if he was about to impart important advice.

"What is it?"

"When you're on the phone, you don't have to make all those hand gestures. The other person can't see you."

He flashed me a smile and turned back to the piano.

So it begins.


Xtin said...

I am not snickering. Not even a very little bit. Nope. Not at all.

Yankee, Transferred said...

I SO feel your pain. I told YD this morning, "I know that you don't believe this, but I am NOT the biggest idiot who ever lived. Not by a long shot. You should have seen Grandma when I was 15! Now THERE'S someone who was REALLY stupid! She got much smarter when I was 18."

Picky Mick said...

"I can't tell you how often my boys will jump into a conversation to correct my grammar or politely point out something I've done wrong."

Like you didn't do that to them for the last fifteen years?


Lila said...

I've been following your posts for a while and absolutely love your relationship with your children. How did you raise them so well? They seem so nice and independent. I wonder if you were a stay-at-home mom when they were younger, or you're simply just a wonderful mother?

Patti said...

Two years ago, I had a whole year off from teenagers. My daughter turned 20, and my son was 12. Now, at 14, my boy is the critic, and then some.

jo(e) said...

Yankee: LOL. You know just what I'm talking about.

Picky Mick: Oh, that was a low blow.

Lila: Thanks for the compliment. I do have wonderful kids. The four kids have been raised in all different situations: I've been a full-time mother, I've worked part time, and I've worked full-time. My husband has worked a full-time job the whole time we've had kids. But I've always had a lot of help from extended family, especially my mother and my oldest sister, who babysit the kids when I was at work. Of course, having an academic job has really helped as far as giving me the flexibility to spend time with the kids.

Patti: My daughter is 21 so I don't get this kind of thing from her any more. But the boys are 19, 16, and 12 ....

Marie said...

Imagine 50 or so teenagers who think they are close enough to you to treat you like that! My life as a high school teacher and GSA advisor.

jo(e) said...

Marie: Oh, yes. I've taught secondary school so I know what it's like. In fact, I think everyone should be required to teach secondary school before having kids: it's a great glimpse of what it will be like to have teenagers someday.

Kyla said...

Oh no! That's too funny. Your last baby! A teenager! *sigh* It goes fast.

BeachMama said...

Teenagers? My four year old tells me what to do and corrects me all the time. Does this mean it only gets worse at he hits his teens?

jo(e) said...

Beachmama: Yep.

landismom said...

Yes, I've been getting a lot of early-tweener eye-rolling lately. Can't wait until it turns into full-blown teenager correction!

ccw said...


We're only getting grunting and eye rolling but I imagine the critique of our parenting/life/very being is not too far behind.

adjunct whore said...

it is so reassuring to hear from another parent about this daughter takes great pleasure in criticizning me these days and she's just about to turn twelve. even when you know it's normal it can be so tiring! but also sometimes hilarious.

KLee said...

Offspring and Juggling Freak often "joke" that if they want to to be silent, they have to not only tape my mouth shut, but tape my hands down, too. I have to try very hard not to make a certain specific hand gesture when they say this to me. :)

I'm getting the ragged edges of the hurricane of parental criticism, but I can feel the stronger winds on the way. With much prayer, this particulr parental storm will not completely level me, and I'll be able to escape largely unscathed (and without a criminal record.) Here's praying!

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