Preview, teen years

This is the year of the switch-overs. My oldest will no longer be a teenager. My youngest will become a teenager.

The oldest is showing some signs of maturity in more subtle ways, being more receptive to helping out around the house when I need him to, helping out with his sister without being asked, taking care of some things when they need to be taken care of just because.

The youngest is showing signs of maturity with good old fashion teen attitude. Apparently the teen attitudes her brother is shedding are shedding straight on to her.

Oh joy. Oh rapture.

I’ve done puberty four times – once personally, then with my three older kids. Let’s just say I’m so over puberty, I am, like, literally over it, like a 15 yr old girl rolling her eyeballs because she can’t even.

So yes, I’m looking forward to more teen years.

Of course, since I’ve all but mastered the average teen years cycle, I get to do the teen years, special needs version. And I’m going to admit right now, I have no clue what’s in store for us. There’s no books or guidelines to help me out really. There’s barely anything out there for the average puberty-goer-througher.

As usual, I’m gonna wing it. Hey, winging it has been sort of working for me for almost 20 years in this parenting thing.

There are some things I’m just going to have to take as they come. Like explaining things. Explaining anything to Maura is tricky, because I have to be able to choose the words she can comprehend, and keep it simple, so she can best process it all. And we all know, there’s no easy explanation to puberty. Well, that’s not true. The easy explanation is “Your hormones go crazy, your body does weird and often embarrassing things, I’m so so sorry, good luck, and here’s a stick of deodorant.”

Luckily, being the youngest sibling, Maura’s gotten to watch her sibs grow and change, and she’s a visual learning, so it’s not completely out of the blue to her that she’ll grow and stuff. Everyone else is putting on deodorant, why not her? And also, I’ve gotten to practice on the older three, dealing with mood swings and body odor, so I’m as prepared as one can be.

As for mood swings, well, since Maura’s usual nature is a chipper one, when she does show a bad attitude, I don’t have to worry about it being some weird new symptom of her disabilities. No, her bad attitude is just a preview of moody teen years.

Basically, being stubborn and opinionated and having moments of sobbing? That’s actually NORMAL.

See, that’s where it gets blurry for us parents of special kiddos. We’re always on the alert for the abnormal, that sometimes, we forget that there’s perfectly normal things, like bad attitudes during puberty, that have absolutely nothing to do with whatever disability came along with our child. I remember having a conversation with one of Maura’s speech therapists (a woman who had worked with my sons as well) and the ST was all “So Maura refused to do anything, she was being really stubborn, was there a change in her medication or something?”

I laughed and said “It’s probably just the normal family stubbornness. You remember her brothers?”

The ST paused. “Ohhh….yes….”

Because in our family, the stubborn, it is legendary.

I guess I should stop being so afraid of puberty. Because I’ve managed it, I’ve lived it, I am one with it. The worst parts are the attitudes and moods, and I’ve been there, done that, bought the tee shirt and the mug, rode the roller coasters, and sponsored the 5K run.

And who knows? Maura likes to be different, maybe she’ll be the calmer, less moody, teenage girl.

From my mouth to God’s ears, please and thank you!

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