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 number of times over my teaching career I’ve heard a parent tell me, “You have no idea what it’s like to have a teenager!” Oh, really? So the fact that I see them from 8-3 every day doesn’t qualify me for knowing what that’s like? I probably see teenagers more than the average parent!

And now I can add to that since Jayna has entered that magical age. Of course, she’s been calling herself a “pre-teen” for a couple years now, a term I’m convinced was created by clothing manufacturers to get kids to buy clothing that even 13-year-olds shouldn’t wear. She’s been very excited to get to this age, as are all kids, er, pre-teens.

We told Jayna when she turned 13, we’d talk about a cell phone. (We caved and got her one.) We said she could probably have Facebook, but only if she friended Mom and Dad first.

Oh, we knew this day was coming for quite some time. I think it’s been about four or five months that we’ve been hearing, “Well, I’m almost 13.” (My opinion is you have to be within a month of your birthday to say you’re “almost” an age.)

So now what do we do? I’ve had a running bit over the years where I tell parents that their child will start to become evil as they near the teenage years. It doesn’t matter how good that child might be overall, bad vibes will overcome at some point. This begins to ebb when the lure of a driver’s license appears on the horizon, and good dealings with parents might be the only way to get some car keys.

Parents with their first child have a look of horror on their face. It either translates as, “What? Not my Susie!” or, “You mean it gets worse?” Veteran parents simply nod, knowingly.

Evil has different degrees, of course. Jayna has been a very good child, but she’s begun to test the boundaries the past year. The deep sigh from her mouth is a sure sign that Mom and Dad don’t have a clue. She hasn’t done anything really overtly terrible (yet), and I can’t imagine living in a house where it’s constant arguing with the know-it-all teenager.

I’ve heard the horror stories from parents about that type of teenager. Yikes! Wait – was I one of those? We all heard our parents say they hoped we’d get a child just like us someday. I always thought that would be a good thing.

I think I was decent at that age. Not some outstanding, headed for sainthood kind of good, mind you, but okay. I remember a few yelling matches with my parents, usually about curfews or dating or some such trivial item. I’m sure there will be a few of those, most likely when a boy comes around, looking for an evening with my daughter.

I often tell students that they will grow to become like their parents in many ways. The requisite denial occurs, but I thought the same. In fact, I remember telling my parents that when I had kids I would do things differently.

Nope.

I know I’ve entered that state of no return when I find myself uttering, often, “When I was your age…” I can hear that deep sigh from Jayna as I even type the words!

This age of evil that I joke about is really here. Now Michelle and I get to deal with it. But it’s an important step in kids finding their places in the world and developing the ability to think for themselves. They need to become more than little clones of Mommy and Daddy.

Of course, this age may also be the evolutionary equivalent of helping to cut the apron strings so it’s easier to send them packing after graduation! I’ll let you know in six years…


Word of the Week: This week’s word is promulgate, which means to make a rule public, as in, “The parents promulgated the new curfew rules loudly enough that their daughter’s date heard them loud and clear.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!

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