On the subject of my lamentable journey through puberty, and how it must have driven you to distraction.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I am writing to formally apologize, for all the moments (weeks? years?) of pain and misery that I might have inadvertently caused you, throughout my formative years.
I apologize, for my “taste” in clothing. I realize now that my shorts were too short, my pants sat too low on my hips and I probably didn’t need to bare my midriff quite so diligently.
And yes, Dad, I was trying to be cool, when I refused to zipper my jacket in the dead of winter. Rest assured, I have outgrown all these practices.
I apologize, for my attempts to convince myself – and our entire town – that I was an only child. I am no longer embarrassed by my younger brothers and sisters.
And I’m not sure if you have noticed, but I have given up the habit of slinking along, twenty paces behind, when we are out as a family. I am willing, nay, happy to be associated with all of you.
I apologize, for my constant bickering with my siblings (when I wasn’t trying my hardest to ignore them). I realize that they are not the annoying, sociopathic space aliens that I once thought. They are, in fact, quite wonderful.
I apologize, for my ungoverned emotions. I know that it wasn’t easy, having your oldest child in a seemingly perpetual state of near hysteria.
(Mom, I love you. I don’t know why the mere sight of you caused me to burst into tears, all those years ago. I think you are beautiful. Truly.)
If it is any comfort, you have indeed lived to see the day when your child has become a parent, suffering through a pair of insufferable pre-teens of her own.
I try to remain calm, when my sons pull their pants down around their hips, exposing the tops of their underwear. I think of you, Dad, as I gently point out that they look like they are still in diapers, with the crotch of their pants hanging down between their knees.
I am sanguine, when my oldest child shushes me in public, afraid that one of his peers will realize we are related. And I smile, as I raise my voice to draw even more attention.
I am trying to remember, when my sons wrestle each other to the ground, swearing like truck drivers, that most children really do make it through puberty and on to adulthood alive, with all limbs in tact.
More than anything, I am amazed to know that you did this parenting thing ten times over. That you lovingly and persistently guided an entire tribe of confused adolescents through puberty, with largely successful outcomes.
I am inspired.
So thank you both, for your patience and perseverance. I wouldn’t be here today, enjoying the greatest moments of my life, if it weren’t for you.
I will continue to carry the flag and keep the faith.
With all my love and affection,
P.S. When can I expect to outgrow the hysteria??
For more adventures in parenting pre-teens, check out, 7 Ways to Make Peace with Your Child and Parenting from the Trenches: When Mommy Misbehaves.
Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers, by Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D., and Gabor Mate, M.D.,
Why Do They Act That Way? A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teen, by David Walsh, Ph.D., and
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