By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
The fleeting days of teenagers
Placeholder Image
As of last Wednesday, we have three teenagers in the house.

It is one form of craziness to be outnumbered by your kids - and another altogether to be outnumbered by your teenagers.

I suppose we should have seen this coming. A simple bit of math 13 years ago would have forewarned us of the future truths about the influx of teens into the family.

We were floating down the big river of denial back then. It was difficult to see past the spilled milk and gooey strained carrots smearing our rose-colored glasses. Or perhaps we chose not to look - or do the math.

When you are caught up in a world of diapers and wet wipes, a future of driving permits and acne cream seems so distant it's easy to ignore.

For parents of toddlers, teenagers exist as an alien life form - aloof, mysterious and even a little intimidating. They are the neighbor's kids. The babysitters. They drive cars a whole lot bigger than Hot Wheels or Matchbox. Teens are tall and gawky with their own language and clothing styles. They wear ear buds and listen to new-fangled music that's never played on the classic rock stations.

They have their own homes to go home to. They don't live in yours. It's easy to assume they never will.

Until your son (who will always be your baby) brings a friend home from high school and this friend has a beard and you realize maybe it's time to throw away the sippy cups.

I thought I had years to hone my parenting skills - decades actually - which I guess, technically, I did. But those years spun by quicker than the merry-go-round at the park I used to push to their gleeful cries of, "Faster, Mama! Faster!"

When you are parenting toddlers, it feels as though it will never end. They seem so young, so needy - which I guess, technically, they are. You tie their shoes. You wipe their noses and other not-to-be-named orifices. You read them "Go, Dog. Go." You stir their macaroni and cheese. You tuck them in at night.

Then one morning, you wake to discover a gangly teen - all arms and legs - with a deep voice and size 11 feet lying in your son's bed with his head on your son's pillow and you wonder where the time went.

It's an enigma. You find yourself living with a houseful of near-adults and you don't feel old enough to have spawned any of them. In fact, you perceive yourself to be young, hip and cool enough to hang out with the group, even though you are 40-something and still wearing Zubaz.

There's a little teenager left in most of us. Trouble is, our teens can't see it. Just like we couldn't envision their teen potential during the toddler years, they can't imagine us as anything but middle aged - which I guess, technically, we are.

Teenagers are full of life and fun to be around. I may pretend to complain about living with three in the house, but the truth is, I enjoy every minute - well almost - there was an incident involving the minivan and a ditch I'd rather not relive. If parenthood has taught me anything, it's that I better relish it while it's here because the whole shebang is fleeting. Gone before you know it.

Sort of like a teenager with possession of the car keys on a Friday night.

- Jill Pertler's column appears every Thursday in the Times. She can be reached at