1. If you’ve ever dreamed of your child learning a second language, that wish is granted. At age 12, children suddenly acquire the ability to teenspeak.
Among girls, teenspeak sounds like: “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, I am so like totally freaking out!” Roughly translated, this means either “My goodness. Here is my friend Ashley. I haven’t seen her for a whole 25 minutes” or “Hmm...there appears to be a blemish forming on my nose and I am going to have to walk by Jeremy Willenstein’s locker today.” For boys, teenspeak usually consists of a series of grunts that can mean anything from “Is there food?” to “Is there food?”
There is a downside associated with your child learning this second language. For the next 10 years, he will appear to have forgotten how to speak his first one. But do not under any circumstances be tempted to learn to converse with your teen in his second tongue. The only thing less cool than a parent who doesn’t teenspeak is one who does.
2. If you don’t like the mood your young teen is in, wait 30 minutes. It will change.
3. Never again will you be alarmed to realize you’re singing The Wiggles out loud and the kids aren’t even with you. Instead, you’ll find yourself singing Usher. Which may be more alarming.
4. If you’re worried about your young teen’s crush on Robert, Emile or Justin, or Madison, Ruby or Lauren, wait 30 minutes. It will change.
5. After years of denying yourself, there’s now designer perfume on your bathroom shelf. Maybe even Oakley sunglasses by the door. Of course, they belong to your teen. But if you’re lucky, she may let you borrow.
6. Young teens are at the perfect age to enjoy family fun — old enough to travel without fuss and fighting, and young enough to be prepared to be seen with the folks. This stage won’t last long, so be sure to…oops, missed it.
7. Finally, your child no longer depends on you to know how to dress. This leads immediately to a downside, which is also that he no longer depends on you to know how to dress.
8. Your daughter is still not old enough to get her eyebrow pierced or forehead tattooed. If you don’t think this is such a big deal, just wait until she is.
9. After years of parenting, you realize your child is at last an adult. You know this because your teen tells you. Often it sounds like “You have to understand, I’m grown up. I can look after myself. I don’t need you like I used to.” This may be immediately followed by “Can you please drive me to the mall?”
10. As your teen enjoys independence, you’ll experience something so unheard of among parents of small children, it’s often considered mythical: time to yourself. Now’s your chance to do all the fun stuff you used to do before you had children. For many of us, this means spending some quality quiet time trying to recall what that was.
11. Having a teen encourages you to reconnect with your spiritual side: There’s nothing like parenting a teenager to remind you of the importance of prayer.
12. If you’re worried because your child is determined to head off into the world and become his own person, wait 30 minutes and — actually, you’re stuck with this one for good. But the upside is you wouldn’t want it any other way.
13. Having lunch in a restaurant with a friend. Buying a new, glossy pink lipstick. Staying up late to watch the final moments of the hockey game. On days when being an adult feels only like work and worry, there’s nothing like having a teen to help you remember: Being “all grown up now” is still magic.