Daddy Diaries: How To Parent Three Teenagers
One dad explains how he manages life as the father of three teenagers and why he’s a little nervous about what lies ahead.Playlist
Last weekend, my youngest son turned 13. That means that I am now the father of three teenage boys: a 13-year-old, a 15-year-old, and a 16-year-old. If you were hearing this, instead of reading it, there would be a dramatic music sound inserted right here, kind of like dum dum dum dummmmmmmmmm.
Now, before I forget, the picture that accompanies this post is not of my actual children. I have this thing about Web privacy, so these are models pretending to be my actual children. In my opinion, my actual children are much cuter than these models, although no less threatening. That being said, my three teenage boys have three different personalities and each comes with their own set of challenges.
I knew the day would come that I would be seen as a geezer and have older kids. I’m still trying to process watching them grow and become young adults because it seems like I held each them in just one hand only a few days ago. The youngest son is an incredible movie fanatic – much like a very young, but just as feisty, Roger Ebert. His favorite part about turning 13 is that he’s now able to see a PG-13 movie on his own. I thought that he’d be all fired up to get his own Facebook page instead, but he's busy watching movies on his tablet, analyzing the composition of each and every shot as if he were Christopher Nolan.
The 15-year-old suffers from “middle child syndrome" at times, but is pretty well adjusted for the most part. He lives for music, plays five instruments, is an accomplished Boy Scout, all the while managing to be a total chick magnet. Each of those things provides unique challenges on their own, but roll it all together and it can be quite a ball of fire to deal with on a daily basis. He also seems to suffer some sort of video game fixation – notice I did not say the word addiction – and would probably spend every waking moment with a PlayStation remote in his hand, if he wasn't so busy doing all the other things in his life.
Then there is the oldest boy. He’s 16-years-old and a sophomore in high school. Seriously, when did my baby become a sophomore in high school? And now he’s old enough to drive? When did my bundle of joy become hairier than I am? Honestly, it's kind of freaking me out. When I think about how much all of my kids have grown and wonder how they got to be teenagers, it certainly has me thinking about how time flies.
The 13-year-old’s birthday was a pretty jarring moment in many ways. But just as I was becoming a little more comfortable with him becoming a teenager, I got a kick in the face when the mail came yesterday. My oldest son, who still has two-and-a-half years left in high school, received his first college recruiting letter yesterday. He scored highly on some standardized test. And since the testing company sold a list of high achievers to colleges, I'm guessing they are all going to start courting kids like him. I realized it’s actually a good thing. Since I'll have three in college at the same time, it might be advantageous to have a few scholarships to help everybody out.
But the kick in the face part is that this letter, that first "Get to know us!" letter from an institute of higher learning, came from MY ALMA MATER! Yes, the place where I misspent my college years seems interested in having my son follow in my footsteps and attend their school. I've already told him that won’t happen – mostly because I don't want him finding any remnants of my time on campus that might tarnish his glowing admiration of me. Assuming he glowingly admires me. The letter also makes me question the value of a degree from an institution that would have my son as a student, after my less than spectacular tenure there. But that’s another story.
It seems like the days of being challenged by changing diapers and teething pains were only weeks ago. As I look forward to the adventures that lie ahead as the father of three teenagers, I sort of wish I still had diapers to change. Dealing with those types of messes might be easier than dealing with the challenges ahead.