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That elusive creature called the teenage boy

By: the Tammy half of Lydia Dare

I wish someone had given me a manual for parenting that elusive creature known as the adolescent male. It would have been much simpler had I known the fundamentals. But, unfortunately, they don’t come with instructions.

My parents had a house full of girls. There was my sister and I, our gaggles of friends who were at our house more than their own, and a stray girl or two with freckles and pig tails who just visited and chose not to leave, not until they were good and ready. The point of the story is - my house when I was growing up was a choked patch of estrogen. But then my sister and I both had boys. So, the tides turned. The estrogen that once soaked the hallowed halls of home was then filled with the scampering feet of little boys. Then the raging hormones of teenage boys.

It’s not easy raising a teenage boy. In this day and time, it’s hard to teach a young man what he needs to know. You still want him to do the basics like open car doors (or any doors for that matter) for a lady, to automatically crook his arm when a girl slides her hand into it, and you really want him to learn to respect women.

But, in today’s society, it’s also important that you teach your sons to be appreciative of a woman who can get sh*t done. What lessons do you start with?

At my house, my boys do dishes, make dinner when I just don’t feel like it and they are the masters of the folding of laundry. Do you know why they do it? Because they see their dad does it. At our house, when Dad has the kids on a Saturday by himself, it’s not called babysitting. It’s parenting. Babysitting is what you get when you pay someone to come in and take care of your kids. Parenting is just… well… parenting. It’s making young boys into men in the best way you know how, usually by example.

As for that instruction manual, there’s not one. There’s no one who will tell you that preadolescent boys will begin to resemble someone else entirely when they get a little older. They become young men over night. You reach to pat one of them on top of the head for a job well done and find yourself reaching up to do it. You’re suddenly short, when you’ve never been short in your life.

And that’s when you realize what a good job you’ve done. Sure, your teen might grab your foot just so he can pop your toe in the most painful manner possible, then laugh like crazy when you squeal. He might even wrestle with you and pin you to the floor within three seconds flat. But then there comes that day when you reach for his arm as you walk across the parking lot and he immediately crooks his elbow and looks down at you, and you know you helped shape him. You gave him life, but your actions and your attitude helped to make him into the man he’s becoming.

Then he does something really stupid and you’re ready to stomp him into the floor. Such is the life of a mom of boys. But it’s so worth it the very first time he opens the car door for you.


  1. Oh Tammy - You brought tears to my eyes with your post. I have an almost 17 year-old boy who has been doing dishes since he could stand on his fire truck and reach the sink. He still hasn't gotten the folding laundry down yet but since his dad does all the laundry, I choose to pick my battles.

    My son is a gentleman, mothers have been known to call me, tell me what a wonderful son I have and ask if their daughters can date him. He's thoughtful, caring, and a hard worker (especially if he's working for someone other than me.) And although boys are difficult to raise, I have to say they're a whole lot easier than girls. I have two of those too...sigh, puberty sucks.

  2. Oh you guys bring back the memories, not all of the good. My 'baby' is 21 and out on his own. Every time I had someone call to complement me about how good my son was, helpful, thoughtful etc. I couldn't help but think, who? my kid? but then I would remember, the world sees a side of our offspring that we, as their parents, rarely do. Looking back, I see I did a fair job of raising my son, single parents here, and I'm very proud of the way he turned out.

    Of course I will never go through that hell again! LOL There were too may times we came to head-butting stubbornness that made me want to pull my hair out. I know now that stubbornness will do him good, but back then....*sigh* I'm just glad it's over!

  3. What a great post! You almost made me wish I had a boy! But then there was that toe comment...

  4. Such a great post! I am so glad that I will never have to negotiate that particular minefield, but I am grateful for mothers like you who do, and do it well!

  5. I still know nothing of boys. I don't understand them. They certainly don't understand me - see the clothes thrown about the room that aren't in the laundry basket in the corner.

    Tammy - you could work on writing that teenage instruction manual. I'll need it in a few years as the oldest turns 10 today.

    And I made sure the dog we added to the family was a dog. I needed the female company.

  6. my refrain: "Try not to do any of that 'stupid teenage boy sh*t.'"

    Yeah, that doesn't work so well...

    but, hey, it's worth a shot. At least, now he GETS that he's done "stupid teenage boy sh*t" when he does it.

    If only he'd figure it out beforehand.

    "stupid teenage boy sh*t" (c) Judi Fennell

  7. I grew up with a younger brother, so a lot of this reminds me of him. But I'll never forget when he figured out when he was about 15 that he could literally lift me over his head... but that doesn't change the fact that he's terrified of his big sister (who is over a foot shorter than him) :)

    Great post Tammy!

  8. I enjoyed your essay and I would never expect you to do less than a wonderful job mothering your boys.

    I grew up in a female home (Daddy used to complain that even thee damn dog was female). I have had to wait for a grandson and a great-grandson. See waiting to see how they turn out;o)

  9. Great blog, Lydia. You really touched home with this one. I grew up with three sisters and one brother. I have three sons and one daughter. Very different houses, very different rules.

  10. Hmmm, must've failed somewhere. Don't think I've ever had a car door opened for me, but occasionally the front door when I'm carrying in groceries! LOL! Great post, Tammy!

  11. OMG Tammy, were you the fly on the wall in my house? We were all girls in my family. Except for one niece this generation has all boys. My 20 year old & I only understand each other when we are talking sports. He's been busy with school & work & hasn't dated much recently. On Mother's Day he told us (my parents were there too) that he did not understand women. I said what's not to get? It's simple.

    He said:
    There aren't enough trees in the world to print a book that would explain them. I had to laugh.
    I said that's okay, I don't get you either.

  12. Thanks for giving me a glimpse into the future. Parenthood is no easy thing! And yes, when a parent (mom or dad) takes care of the kids it's parenting, not babysitting!!


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