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.