So predictable

Since my daughters have hit their teens, I have had that recurring thought of the similarities between teenagers and toddlers: self-centered, attention-seeking and petulant. Unable to always communicate properly, other than via a series of miserable whines that extol utterances of ‘woe me’. The ability to make you feel like a worthless piece of shite, whilst you freely still slather them in love. Then there’s the highly irritating trait of being utterly charming to granny and friends’ parents, so that these duped individuals exclaim to you (in a voice that makes you feel like a nasty fraud), “difficult? I don’t know what you mean!” Usually said as they feed them another biscuit which, when they have cheerily and smugly said goodbye to you and your offspring, will leave you dealing with the carnage of the sugar rush.

Are you the parent of a toddler who is worried about time moving too fast? Fret not. It only moves like lightening in the bigger picture. The minutiae  of life, the bickering and the tantrums, can keep the cogs turning slowly. Of course, just like toddlers, there are many moments of wonder and unadulterated joy with teenagers, but we all know that the reality is that shit happens. Whatever lies your Instagram feed is showing you, with the best will in the world and as much as you would not be without them, sometimes being with toddlers and teenagers is hard bloody work.

Last night however, prompted by one of my dogs wanting a wee, when he should have been going to sleep, my thoughts turned to the differences between having little ones and having teenagers. As I lay in bed, waiting for partner to take the dog out to the toilet, it came to me that one of the most stressful parts of having babies and toddlers is their unpredictability. Weeks of colic with daughter 1, unable to predict what would set her off screaming for hours, sent my already high stress levels rocketing. I can clearly remember the pure relief I felt, when at 16 weeks I had got her into some kind of routine, her colic had subsided and she became more predictable. If as parents of tinies you knew the night schedule in advance: baby wakes at 11pm for a feed, toddler cries 1am-2am for no apparent reason, baby wakes at 2am for a feed, toddler wakes at 5am for Peppa Pig on loop and breakfast, it would actually be far easier to deal with, because you could formulate a plan. Not quite knowing makes it stressful, and in the early days it can feel quite scary.

As a rookie teacher it was the same. The more experienced I became, the more behaviours I had encountered and therefore the more predictable they were. I think it’s the same with teenagers; in many ways their behaviours are highly predictable. You get very little thanks for doing things for them as they feel it’s their right anyway. They don’t bring dirty mugs downstairs. They spend hours on their phones, they take hundreds of selfies…oh the list could go on and on, but at least you know where you stand! They can be so incredibly predictable.

Does predictability make life any easier? Sometimes. Although occasionally, of course, it is the surprises that make life interesting*.

*not when they involve screaming, shit, sick or wee. Smiles, flowers, pleasant behaviour, are all good surprises

“In fiction: we find the predictable boring. In real life: we find the unpredictable terrifying.”

– Mokokoma Mokhonoana

19 thoughts on “So predictable”

  1. Love this post, that last quote has a lot of truth in it. Predictable is boring bbut at least you’re stress-free and know where you stand – as you said it. But good surprises are the best – they break the daily routine, give you hope and the drive to go on, make everything worth it..;) Two teens coming up in a few years here! #bloggerclubUK

    1. Yes, very true – a break from routine is always fun. Good luck with the teens – as long as they remain predictable, you’ll be fine!

  2. I’ve found the teenage years much harder to deal with as a parent than anything that came before. The stakes just seem so much higher when they screw up and it seems like all they do is screw up! #familyfun

    1. I agree that the stakes are higher. It’s about taking a deep breath and holding it…and hoping nothing goes catastrophically wrong! And when it does, it’s about saying “fuck” a lot).

  3. ha ha highly predictable for sure and the displays of unpredictable nature is what gets you concerned – always makes me question – everything else I can deal with – do something unexpected and I will beat them down til I learn why!! #BloggerClubUK

    1. Once (if) you get into a routine with tots, it feels more manageable. With teens there’s no routine to fall back on! It is really rewarding too though, so don’t dread it too much 🙂

  4. Ah I wouldn’t say I’m a mum of toddlers asking time to slow down lol. Not that I want it to speed up either but you summed them up pretty well there at the start. Although I feel they have some gracevas they’re only 2 and are yet to know better. Teenagers though argh that’s a whole new ball game I will need to get my head round. I think though you’re onto something – there is some security in predictability no? Thanks for joining us at #familyfun xx

    1. You hit the nail on the head with ‘security’. As Helen said in the comments above, when they do something unexpected, we really worry! Thank you for your comments.

  5. I love that final quote… makes me want to write a horror story about real life! And I totally agree that it’s unpredictability which messes us up – I have a 3 year old and a 7 month old at the moment, and it’s pretty cool most of the time UNTIL one of them breaks from routine, then we’re all over the place! #StayClassyMama

  6. I can already see some serious teenager qualities in my toddlers so I am well aware this is only the dress rehearsal! I dread to thing what they will be like in 12-15 years…..

    1. Well judging by his photo, butter wouldn’t melt! I’m sure he’ll be a wonderful teenager, though he may well break a few hearts!

  7. Haha I am crying with laughter about the ‘whatever lies your Instagram feed is telling you’…whilst loving your use of language ‘extol utterances’. My son is just about to turn six and was foul from 2-4, if teenagerism is the same but with a smart phone I fear for my sanity. Fab thought provoking post. Thank you for linking to #stayclassymama x

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