Thursday, June 30, 2011

Telling Teens and Toddlers Apart: A Primer

Quiz time: If a teen whines and a toddler screams in the forest, do the trees start making themselves martinis? Answer: If the trees know what's good for them.

I make this point--that martinis and parenting are among the most logical bedfellows this life offers--as a way of introducing a new direction for this blog. It occurred to me recently that after 18 months of sporadically documenting my adventures parenting a baby for the second time, I've under-emphasized perhaps my greatest source of material, namely my first baby, Jackson, age 13 years, 10 months, 19 days.

(I wanted to give this reborn blog a new name: Burning at Both Ends. Alas, that name was taken by another blogspotter, and since I have no interest in moving my personal blogging to another platform, I await the next title to wash over me. Suggestions are enthusiastically welcome.)

More than anything, it has become impossible to ignore the numerous similarities between teens and toddlers. To wit:

-Both are in a state of testing limits almost constantly--one might not check in for seven or eight hours despite clear direction not to let that happen, the other will stand on a rickety chair amid a shower of "No!"s.

-Both are experiencing intense frustration over what they're not permitted to do, or what someone won't do for them, and are willing to throw serious tantrums to express their displeasure.

-Both accumulate an amazing assortment of bumps, bruises, cuts and abrasions pretty much every day--one while endlessly practicing increasingly insane skateboard tricks, and the other by walking into, falling off of or tripping over pretty much everything in his way.

-Both can be impossible at the dinner table, with one turning down foods based on pre-judgments and exhibiting the manners of the Tazmanian Devil, and the other flinging plates, cups, silverware, condiments, lazy Susans--whatever he can grab--onto the floor.

-Perhaps most importantly, both present constant foes to my every need, whether it be by asking for rides or waking up from naps at the most inopportune moments, or ripping through a moment of peace by peppering me with a sudden barrage of rapid-fire questions or throwing a Tonka Toy over the back of the couch onto my face.

I could go on, but the point is that this laundry list of converging realities must be mined for maximum insight and entertainment. That is what I plan to make my mission from this point forward. But right now there's a rare moment of quiet in the house. It will end, abruptly, at any moment. I must use it to recharge my batteries for the next round of battle.

(UPDATE 10 min later)
Random unrelated thought: Doesn't my 13-year-old realize the irony of using Axe's "Dark Temptation" soap once every 3-4 days? Trust me, by day 3, the audience of those "tempted" consists of a stray dog, a family of racoons, and 73 cockroaches.