The struggle of raising teenagers

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Whoever said God can’t give you more than you can handle, hadn’t clearly thought about children. Nothing breaks your heart like children. One minute they are young. Cute. Adorable. Vulnerable. And the next, they are like strangers. Distant. You can’t even seem to tell what they think of coffee.

They have their eyes glued on the phone all day, and earphones that have become an extension of their skin. You will try to remember whether they were born with a phone hanging out their ears. But your memory will fail you. When they enter their rooms, they leave three years later, to get married to someone they met online. You can’t recall when they grew boobs or a beard because the last time you sat down to eat dinner with them was like a year ago. You can’t even tell if they are straight. Atheists or want to join Jehovah Witness. You can’t tell if they grow up they want to be environmental engineers, Tik Tokers or YouTubers.

When they are young, they are affectionate. They are proud of you. They don’t mind introducing you to their friends. But when they get older, they get embarrassed of you. You can’t tuck them into bed or choose clothes for them. When you hold their hand as you cross the road, they get uncomfortable. Like a young boy being lead to church by a priest on a Monday evening. You can’t wipe something off their face with spit, without them vomiting or developing rashes. And I’m like, do I disgust you this much? Does it really smell that bad?

These people don’t care whether you develop varicose neck veins from shouting or high blood pressure. They just want to be right all the time. To be seen. Heard. To have freedom. They feel as if no one understands their hairstyle. The kind of music they listen to. Or their fashion choices. But surely, how do you walk out the house dressed in biker shorts and t-shirt and a bag around the waist and be okay with that? They didn’t even make bags in our time. And I know Billie Eilish is amazing, but can you try someone else for a change?

I’m one of those people who take three glasses of water and lie down after using my phone because I’m usually exhausted. I can’t even stand Social Media. I’ll die. But these young people are always scrolling. Texting. Double Taping. Talking to who? And talking about what? The other day I woke up at 2 AM to pee and my eldest daughter (sorry I didn’t mention I have three girls) was on phone, and I was like who the hell are you freaking talking to at this time? When do you people sleep? And how the hell do you have people talking to you when I can’t even get a single human being  to send me a good morning text? Eeh? And because she is growing an ass, you can’t tell her shit. She won’t listen.

Being a parent means you’re always worried about your children. Especially if they are girls. You are not with them the whole day, and you barely know who they interact with. If they take too long to get back from the shop, you don’t know what to think. You don’t know if there’s someone hunting them. If there’s a guy who gives them butterflies. You don’t know if they are smoking behind your back or taking alcohol. You don’t know if they are virgins. If they have girlfriends or boyfriends. And you fear that one day they’ll come home and tell you they’re pregnant. And you’ll lose your shit.

We tend to control our children, no matter how old they are. But sometimes, we can’t protect them from life. Because life gets us all in the end. Sometimes we think we are good parents just because we provide but we might be surprised at how shitty we are at our job. What if some of the worst things we fear happening to our children have already happened to them? What if we weren’t there for them when they needed us the most? Loved them when they deserved it the most?

These guys will grow fast and when they get taller than you, they’ll forget you raised them. They’ll think they are cool and walk with a little bounce. They’ll assume they know everything and think you are outdated. And you don’t really know how YouTube works, Tik Tok or Telegram. The conductor will say rwabe and they’ll confirm whether you know what rwabe is. Or Kumuok and ngumi mbwegze.

As a woman, there is that motherly instinct of feeding people when you are hungry. Clothing them when you are cold. Or insisting they sleep, when you are sleepy. But these guys are wired differently. In fact, they are never hungry. When they smell food, everyone gets busy. One goes out to receive a phone call. The other remembers they haven’t done their homework and the other says they are full. Surely?

I always try to be there for them. Give them what I lacked when growing up. Let them know they can talk to me in case of anything, but I can count the number of words they have spoken since they were born. One just nods or shakes their head. And it’s not because they have impaired speech or something. When I think one of them is either hungry or constipated, or being bullied at school, I find out later that they are just sleepy. Nothing much.

There was a time I’d say, I love you and they’d say I love you too, but nowadays I get a me too. Or thank you. But we move on regardless. I don’t know if it’s because I forget their birthday at times, or their middle name while filling forms. But I hope someday they’ll forgive me.

They’ll never know the sacrifices we make for them. How we survived on leftovers and coffee just to see them eat. They might probably take us to a home when we are old, but they are the headache we love. And we hope to understand them better. And to continue loving them when they are a pain in the neck. And when they think they are in love.

One gets me when I tell her goodnight and she says same, but I hope they’ll work on that.

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