A last birthday before teen years

We just celebrated an important birthday at our house. The sad thing is it marks the beginning of the end for Larry and I, since we only have one year remaining before our sweet child becomes a surly teenager.

I was my parents youngest child, born when my mom was 46. Both of my siblings were long gone from the house when I came around. Larry was the oldest child in his family. His youngest sister was born when his dad was 42. My father-in-law was fond of saying “having a baby at 42 isn’t very tough. Having a teenager at 60 is a killer.” Yikes, I guess that’s what’s headed our way.

In some ways, Daniel’s pending teenhood will be a reversion to his toddler self, Mr. Crankypants, though the cause of his surliness won’t be lactose intolerance, it’ll be hormones. Larry and I were talking the other night about what we remembered the most about our teenage years. I remembered all the times my mother and I argued about my wardrobe. I tried to explain to her that double-knit polyester just wasn’t cool. Larry remembered arguing with his parents about letting him grow his hair long. Funny how trivial those things seem now in the scheme of things, especially considering all the things today’s kids have to contend with.

When we were teenagers, if you were worried about getting caught smoking something, it was usually just tobacco. The only school shootings we had to worry about were on class picture day. And climate change was when you had to start wearing a jacket to school (usually because your mom made you).

Larry has been a bit angsty lately, too, mostly because he’s facing his 51st birthday in a week or so. He has also become a bit of a Mr. Crankypants lately. In fact, the other day, he said “I want a motion sensor on my tombstone and a recording that plays ‘Get Off My Lawn’ when anyone comes near it.” Sometimes my husband has an evil sense of humor.

I do think about trying to comfort him, and telling him that being over 50 isn’t that bad, but that would require me to admit that I’m over 50 instead of being 39 again for the umpteenth time. No, I’m not telling how many that is, and you can’t make me.

But I think being an older mom has helped a lot, just as I think being an older dad has helped Larry in dealing with our son. For one thing, I think we’re both more patient than we might be otherwise. It helps that we have more life experience. That struck home with us the other day when some friends of ours asked us for parenting advice about their 10 year old. We had to admit that we were now the wise old hands at the parenting game, even though we sometimes feel like we’re still learning ourselves. The nice thing now is that when we have questions we not only have our parents to ask, but we can go ask other parents over the Internet.

But life like kids comes with some assembly required and no instructions.