Leafing Another Era Behind…Gladly.

I hope you enjoy this month’s contribution to Hallmark’s “Life Is A Special Occasion” campaign! (Perhaps you should grab a cup of hot cider, and possibly a sedative. This post is about puberty.)

I have found that I mentally divvy up the lives of both of my boys into neat little “eras”. It’s easier for me to keep the details of their respective childhood experiences straight if I can associate what I’m trying to remember with the circumstances of a specific period of time. Lucky for my tired brain, they have always been vastly different people and each of them have a unique set of eras, with only two exceptions.

The first era during which they displayed the same sort of behavior was at age three. To be honest, they were both a wee bit horrid to deal with during that year of their lives, due to their trying to assert their own respective sense of independence, as toddlers tend to do. (Terrible twos?? NO. It’s the threes you have to worry about.)

My goodness, Jim and I despised the threes. Luckily, we didn’t have to deal with both of them at three simultaneously. Of course, good times made up for some of it, like on this particular day when D was nearly five and J was nearly two:

J and D in truck wtmkd

I STILL can’t even HANDLE the cuteness.

Sorry for the distraction. Back to the matter at hand…

There was the era that ran for a few months and consisted of J not wanting to go anywhere without wearing swim goggles and covering his body (especially his face and the tops of his hands) with all kinds of stickers.

rose colored goggles

There was the Gilligan era, during which he wore a Gilligan-style hat during every waking moment and used to loudly introduce me at random times throughout the day as if he were the Master of Ceremonies:

“Ladies and gentlemen, presenting…MAMA!!!!”

(Admittedly, that era was a personal favorite.)

There was the “angry era” which began and ended during his fourth grade year as he–for some unknown reason–had difficulty dealing with that particular emotion.

The other era he and his brother experienced in nearly identical ways started without warning just a couple of years later. It was the one so major that I have to use capital letters: PUBERTY, otherwise known as the Era of the Surly Teenager. Oh. Em. Gee.

The Era of the Surly Teenager, my friends, is the Big One. It’s the one during which you feel like you’re:

A. In a freefall
B. Hanging on by a thread
C. Flapping in the wind
D. Never going to see your kind and sweet child again because a hormonal, sullen, indifferent, sometimes-sarcastic teenager has taken over

Seriously, it’s all of the above. If you haven’t yet experienced the “joys” of having a teenager under your roof, here’s your advance warning**. Once puberty hits, all predictability goes out the window. It’s almost like your kid becomes a whole other person, one who is constantly testing your patience and answers questions with grunts and other sounds that aren’t made up of actual words.

As difficult as puberty is for the pubescent one, the frustration a parent feels can be just as overwhelming, even when you know that puberty is the devil that is actually causing all of the trouble. That’s because in the thick of it you start to believe that it will never be over and the child you know and dearly love has somehow been permanently misplaced. Though there are some good moments (not often as cute as in that picture above, I must admit), it’s not always easy to enjoy them due to the hormonal drama that seems to envelop everything.

When J was going through it, I distinctly remember asking Jim–several times–“Are you SURE this is how it was with D???*”

You see, that’s because as parents we are pretty good at repressing certain experiences (like childbirth, for example, and apparently the multi-year process that is puberty).

There’s good news. As unexpectedly (time-wise, anyway) as puberty seemed to swoop in and claim our child for its very own, it also blew this joint when we least expected it, and all of a sudden we got our kid back. An older, more mature version 2.0, but still, recognizably our kid.

I am happy to report that as of earlier this year, puberty officially left the building and we are “leafing” it behind permanently (Get it? That’s a seasonal joke). J, like his brother, has grown into a funny, smart, responsible, respectful guy. It was completely worth the turmoil of the past couple of years to end up with this amazing young man, and we’re so proud of him. Now it’s all onward and upward. Thank goodness.

J homecoming wtmd

By the way, even surly teenagers appreciate a little encouragement. (Just don’t expect them to admit it.) Hallmark has some really great new cards in the “Encouragement” category that you can slide under the bedroom door of your teen as you back away slowly.

may i just say wow encouragement greeting card 1pgc3429 518 11 Find this card on the Hallmark website, here.

Come to think of it, while you’re at it, maybe you should buy yourself a card. You’ll make it through: I promise!

the random breakdown thinking of you postcard 1pgc3502 518 11Find this card on the Hallmark website, here. I recommend getting two.

Disclosure: I am BEYOND thrilled to be partnering with Hallmark on their “Life Is A Special Occasion” campaign for 2012. As a Hallmark LIASO blogger I am being compensated to write about every day moments of all sizes, family traditions, the relationships I cherish the most, and much more. All words, opinions, and photos are mine. Thanks so much to the folks at Hallmark for selecting me for this campaign: it’s an honor for me to be a part of it. Oh, and by the way, you can sign up for special offers and new product information from Hallmark by clicking here (and why wouldn’t you, really?).

*Yes, Jim was sure. D was exactly the same during puberty as J.
**Naturally I can’t claim that every single teenager in the world displays the behavior I describe in this post. All I’m saying is, hormones don’t discriminate and it’s forewarned is forearmed. You’re welcome.