roller-coasterParenting teens (especially those of the female persuasion), some days, okay – maybe most days – often takes on many the characteristics of an amusement park roller coaster ride.

It starts with the ascent, the early morning attempt to raise a teen from coma-like slumber. Cranking gears and rhythmic jolts click and grind willing the train forward on it’s grooved track, up the first hill of the day … getting out of bed. Some mornings, crews must be summoned to address car malfunctions. Other mornings, cranky wooden coasters transform themselves to smooth modern steel thrill rides. Is there any rhyme or reason? No. It’s hard to know which coaster will greet you each morning.

Unlike an amusement park adventure that displays all its exciting twists and turns to thrill seekers as they wait in line to board the adventure, life riders have no idea what lies in store on any given day. And “rider” is the operative word because we all know who tries to take over the wheel at eveyr turn. That’s part of the craziness.

Once the train reaches the top, gravity pulls the train from its perch toward the twists, turns, loops and sometimes backward track. It can be a wild ride.

Barreling down, screams of delight erupt as wonders of youth hit the young teens and produce unencumbered laughter. Because when you’re young you can still appreciate hilarity in the silliness of life – goofy pictures shared in a text from a friend, a surprise “A” when you didn’t study (go figure), a “hello” from the class cutie, and of course absurd body noises or embarrassing moments (from others, not you – of course!)

Consternation quickly replaces lighthearted fun when the train hits loops, sending the riders circling around and around – confusing everyone as to which way is up. Loop 1 – Any happiness associated with anticipated excitement of hitting the mall to purchase a new dress is jerked into the loop by an unexpected series of ill-fitting outfits. The cars are instantly pulled into Loop 2 when the kid’s mother embarrasses the young teen by offering construction suggestions “in front of everyone!!” Before the train completes Loop 2, it’s pulled into a third when the mother asks the unreasonable and ill-timed, “What’s wrong?” “Nothing” whips the cars down. “No really, what’s wrong,” jettisons the cars up. “NOTHING!!” down. “Something IS wrong… please tell me,” up. Determined silence sends the car spiraling down and signals a possible evacuation.

Ahhh… one never knows. Barreling past what seems to be the point of no return, an agreeable demeanor returns. Why? Who knows! Out of the blue, the mood shifts with another surprise turn – some of them (most of them) are just that – surprises. Because who knows how the teen mind works. They don’t even get it.

I don’t know about you, but I love roller coaster rides – every white-knuckle, heart-pounding, breathless, exhilarating twist and turn. I even enjoy the cork-screw loops. My favorite part of the ride is at the end when you look at your fellow passenger and gasp as you agree to “Let’s go again!!!” Because, let’s face it, like an amusement park adventure, the ride is over way too fast. Even though it can be a bit mind-bending, I hope I lean into each and every crazy parenting teen curve. It will be over before I know it.

Thanks for walking the road with me.


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