Four teenagers (13-15) smiling, portrait (Digital Enhancement)

Chad Baker/Ryan McVay

So something weird happened the other day. By now, you’d think I’ve learned to anticipate these little familial occurrences, but no. This came like a bolt out of the blue—I could see the words coming out of my mouth and lingering in the air like a cartoon bubble. Whiny had a birthday last week, and while on some level, I must have acknowledged what was happening, it wasn’t until I said it out loud that it hit home: I have teenagers, plural. I have teenagers.

Cranky, my oldest, turned 14 in December. I reassured myself then that I still had years to go before anyone was dating or driving. But Cranky reminds me monthly how long until she can get a learner’s permit. Twelve months, Mom…, then, 11 months, Mom…It’s like the countdown from the Mayan calendar at our house.

And now Whiny is 13, and he’s asking me questions about shaving and deodorant. Make it stop! I manage to remain the same age year after year, why can’t they? Whiny has gone from a little boy who only wanted to sit on my lap 24/7 to a guy who wants to walk from school up to Ladue Market with his friends (and kindly requests that I not walk several yards behind him, hiding behind trees to make sure he is safe. For some reason, he finds it embarrassing). Not that it’s all bad. Having a 5-year-old on your lap all day, every day can take a toll. But now, he wants to drink Red Bull and go to mixers and text—the whole system is falling apart.

There are a lot of things in my life I wish I had been warned about—grape vodka, eating Steak ‘n Shake past midnight, the guy at Balaban’s in 1993 who told me he was Brett Hull, so I want to give you a warning: Children become teenagers. Sure, it seems obvious enough, but I guarantee that no one realizes when they’re holding that tiny bundle of joy that one day this cooing angel will rack up a $300 iTunes bill and run out of the room when their phone rings. Brace yourself. Something tells me it’s not getting any easier any time soon.

More Tangential Thinker articles.