My 15th year was a doozie. Lots of things. So many things made that year a humdinging, what-the-heck kind of year. But it also set my mind to the trying to understand that year. It made me want to figure out what it is about 15.
When my oldest son was a teenager, things were a bit of a whirlwind. I wish I’d had the understanding and the ability to articulate what I know now, but as I tell him every birthday, he’s my guinea pig. He’s my first go round at being a parent of someone his age. So most of my parenting has been winging it with him. However, I noticed and started to pick apart that 15th year of his as well. Things weren’t great up to that point, but 15, that’s when they hit their fever pitch.
I learned that hormonal changes are far more than armpit and facial hair in our boys. They may not have periods, but those hormones take hold of our boys and chew them up, same as our girls. I watched, I took notice. It’s the science-y part of me; I observe, I question, I contemplate these types of things. I have learned so much by being his mom. And I’m pretty lucky for it 🙂
As my daughter came up on 15, I took notice. Like me, she hit hormone madness with a full speed ahead, hold onto anything not tied down, double-engine train. The lack of subtlety made it easier to see the stark contrast of “adolescent behavior” pre 15, and smack dab in the middle of head-on 15.
I am grateful that even through their teens, we had a good enough relationship that we could talk about whatever. They usually turned bright red or did this (especially my daughter)
when I talked to them about sex, but, I’d rather have red, gaggy faces than STD’s, early babies, and naïve meanderings that could end up with emotional trauma. (yes my kidittos, you’re welcome, btw)
So I was able to talk to her a little and help her understand, a little better than if we weren’t able to talk, the madness that hormones wreak. It was a more modest, less developed version of the talk I had with my youngest son, but it got most of the main points across.
And so, as I combined my observations with myself, my oldest son, my daughter, other parents and their teenagers, I was able to finally formulate and articulate the “You’re going to be 15 soon” speech. A speech which I attribute much of the continued success in communication with him to.
And it goes a little something like this:
Son, you’re going to turn 15 in a few months.
When this happens you won’t like me. I won’t like you.
It’s ok because we are going to love each other all the way through it. We’ll be alright, because soon after that, you’ll be 16 and we’ll like each other again.
You see, somewhere around 15, a brand new hormone will hit your body. One that will change the way you see everything. One that has plagued humans since the beginning of time and probably threatened our existence more than any other natural cause. It is the hormone that spawned the saying,
And here’s why.
Up until this point, the only way you know how to understand and relate to your moods and feelings is by what just happened. EVERYTHING that affected your mood, happened outside of you. If someone took your candy away, you got mad. If someone brought you a present, you got happy. If your favorite cartoon came on, you felt elated. If someone said something mean to you, you got hurt. If everything was just normal, you were just normal.
Your mood and emotion was, and is for the time being, entirely dependent on external events.
That is all about to change.
Don’t worry. It’s part of life. We all go through it. We will survive.
The problem lies in how little we understand it. So I’m gonna break it down for you.
Once this hormone hits your system, NOTHING, absolutely nothing outside of you will change, but your mood will.
Oh will it change. Your mood will fluctuate like your vocal chords bud, with no sense of timing, or reason, or care for social circumstance. Hormone 15 will mercilessly twist your brain up like it’s saltwater taffy on a roller coaster, out at sea, in a hurricane.
Yes, you get to add this to your changing voice, the fact that you stink, your Shaggy-esque hairs, and your extendo-limbs.
And because, so far, your mood has only ever changed by external events, you are going to try and find external events to lay blame on. There won’t be any. You’ll look for them anyway and you’ll find a few things that it could be; so you’ll turn all your hormonal driven emotion at whatever that is. You will get confused and hurt and frustrated as you try to find the thing that made you so ……. whatever emotion you’re feeling.
(Usually the blame will go to me. I get that now. So I’m going to be able to handle it a bit better than I did with the last two, you lucky duck you.)
You are going to wake up one morning and hate life. The sounds of morning that once made you feel happy because you love breakfast, will be heard with hormone-affected ears and you will feel The Hulk want to rage out of you with each clank of a dish.
Your clothes will piss you off.
Your pillow will make you want to cry.
The sky, in whatever state it is in, will frustrate and confuse you.
The smile and hug I am used to, as you leave for school, will be replaced with a scowl, because your inner hormonal demons don’t want to be touched and can’t believe they have to go to school.
All of your friends will be going through the same thing and you will run the gamut of emotional torture, frantic clinging, and bouts of ecstatic wonderment in all that is new in the world, which unmistakably, now you all can see more clearly than any other humans that have ever lived.
Oh, that Hormone 15 is a doozie. You’re about to get flip-turned upside-down.
The good news is that A) after that first rush year, it calms down, B) you start to figure out how to live in your new body, and C) you start getting so interested in girls you forget about not liking me.
Of course, that’s when we’ll have the next set of talks generally titled, “Respect” and “No babies”.
* I got very lucky with my children that I didn’t have to have the Respect and No babies talks before the 15 talk. I did have a sort of graduated/ age appropriate series of talks with my kidittos….. In fact my daughter chose to skip one, because she knew it was coming and didn’t want the embarrassment; and instead learned a valuable lesson the harder way. Which taught me that age appropriate is “while it’s still informative, i.e. before it’s needed”.
How was my “talk” received?
One morning, my daughter was already in her usual teenage morning huff when my youngest son woke up, within a few weeks of turning 15. I heard the uncharacteristic banging of doors. The, (characteristic) yelling at each other about time in the bathroom, but with an added, and new, note in the male voice.
There was a grumbly boy eating his breakfast, hunched over and scowling. And a frustrated and bordering angry re-entry into the kitchen after being reminded to rinse his dishes.
A refusal to be hurried for his sister and subsequent second argument, followed by a slamming of the front door as he left to go to school.
And then, as he reached the end of the walk, he turned around, still storming. I watched by the front door, prepared to rationally deal with what was CLEARLY the first day of Hormone 15. I stood my ground, stuck a smile on my face as he opened the door.
He glared at me as he asked, “This is that hormone thing you talked to me about isn’t it?” To which I calmly nodded my head. He grunted, half smiled, and said he’d see me after school. Then he closed the door and walked back down the path.
Hormones suck. Being real helps. Boys and men are just as complicated as girls and women. Society teaches them not to show it, or to recognize it; to push their complicatedness away and ignore it. But it’s there. All teenagers go through these emotionally havoc wreaking, scary, hormonal changes. I sure wish someone had explained any part of this to me when I was a kid. But hopefully, I can help other parents and teenagers figure out a good way to get through it.
What do you think?