A little over three years ago now, I wrote a post in response to a HuffPost article I had read by Sarah Fader. Her original post provided evidence that three-year-old children have the potential to be a**holes. I found Sarah’s writing alluring, humorous, and most importantly, spot on, and felt compelled to answer her. So I countered her thought with the fact that twelve year olds could also be a**holes.
If you haven’t read either of the posts and you have children, I’d say to go ahead and spend some time reading them (they’re short and won’t take long). Shoot, for that matter, if you don’t have children but are contemplating having them, then you must go read those posts. Because what you will learn—and the conclusion I came to in my post—is that all children can be a**holes at any time in their lives. More specifically, I said,
While the three-year-old a**hole phase will pass, it’s followed by a large number of more vibrant a**hole phases.
And guess what people? I didn’t write it then, but I will now: because we’re the parents of these charmers, we’re stuck with those a**hole phases, all 1003 of them.
You must be asking yourself why, three years on, I’m thinking about that post. I’ll tell you why. Because 12 + 3 = 15, and now, here in 2017, I am mothering two fifteen-year-old girls. (I will repeat that: two fifteen-year-old girls. Give me some love, please.) And in the past three years, so much has changed for them, with respect to their bodies, their friends, their life situations, and their perspectives. Right now, in fact, they are in the throes of puberty and just wrapped up their freshman year of high school. And if those words—puberty and high school—don’t scare you, then you’ve been watching too many movies from the ’50s.
Because kids going through puberty are bad enough in and of themselves: they sulk, they send you the evil eye, they blame you for things you had no part in, they call you names behind your back, they stomp up the stairs and slam their bedroom doors. As lovely as the children might be, as well-behaved and respectful as they can be at times (especially to people who are not me) they are, at this moment, angsty, rage-filled, balloons of hormones that burst at any and all moments. And—just like those three-year-old beasts Sarah spoke of—these fifteen year olds still “don’t give a f*ck.” (The only difference between three, twelve, and fifteen is that now, they’re willing to actually tell you they “don’t give a f*ck.” Sometimes they even use that word. In front of small children.) But throw high school in with puberty and that not giving a f*ck escalates to an insane level.
How insane? you ask. I’ll tell you all the things that fifteen-year-old girls don’t give a f*ck about:
Homework. An F on a paper. Taking care of dishes. Scooping the cat litter. Penmanship (I know, I thought I was done with this one way back when the girls were in first grade). Showering (it’s not just boys who have an aversion for the shower). Listening to their parents. Cups left on tables (it’s still that same problem, Sarah). Food left in their bags to rot. Clean clothes. Brushing their teeth (I thought for sure I’d be done with this one by now). Holes in their shoes. Anything that doesn’t have to do with a cell phone. Minding their manners. Anyone that isn’t them. Life in general.
That’s right. These pubescent beasts we purport to love don’t give a f*ck about much, except for themselves. While that selfishness is no different from when they were younger, since the kids are bigger and take up more space, now the consequences of not giving a f*ck tend to be more disastrous and widespread. In fact, there are times when I have to wonder whether or not we’ll come out unscathed from the madness. (And then, I think about the fact that we have two more children right behind the twins. What the heck were we thinking?)
I know we will survive. I know, in reality, that I once existed in a fifteen-year-old body and that my parents probably rolled their eyes and pulled out their hair as much as I have over the last year or so. I also know that what Sarah said originally is right: that this phase will also pass. But I have to tell you—I’m a little afraid of what the next a**hole phase will bring. I will, of course, keep you posted.