From the first moment you contort yourself to dip your elbow in 3 inches of water at the bottom of the tub, you try to figure out how to make this world gentler for your children.
I still find myself trying to save my oldest from the world... and then other times feeling like flinging him into the path of fate for him to make his own mistakes so I don't have to be the bitch anymore by telling him "No"...
NO, Don't take all of the cheese and eat it and forget to put it on the list when fajitas are on the menu. NO, don't hit the window with sticks. NO! Don't lock your little sister in the Yard Waste bin. And you start hearing yourself say unthinkable things. Mostly to yourself... things that make your husband say things like "Why don't you go get a cup of coffee by yourself this morning" as he tries to use camouflage to blend into the wallpaper. Flinching like you just hollered, as you say "Hell yeah. That's a great idea." Which of course just makes you think bad thoughts about him too.
At this point, I would take just a tiny bit of anything... a bit of joy, a bit of gratitude, a bit of even reluctance before the nasty words blurt out of my spawns mouth. He gives me looks that would make me want to punch a perfect stranger... but I know that this is my baby. My FIRST baby... and I know that I can't hurt him. But for a split second I know that I am mad enough right this second to not feel bad today... I would feel bad tomorrow.
They learn these looks. Probably from me. The "what did you just say?" looks where I heard what they asked, but I want them to say it nicely and so, (gracefully) I am hoping they get the hint without pointing out their mistake. But they use it wrong. They use it when they just knocked over their sisters castle of blocks... acting like they didn't notice what they were doing.
They learn these looks. Probably from me. The "how dare you!" look. The look I use when I walk outside to find my 7 year old stuck in the yard waste bin, crying. But they use it wrong! They use it when I say "I am so sorry it has gotten dark and you messed around today... you still have to get the jobs on the list done outside before dinner."
Then I realise that they have stuffed macaroni down my drain while 'doing the dishes' this morning and it has expanded because no one told me about it and no amount of plunging will save me from calling the plumber. And when I ask him about it, I get the 'what did you just say' look.
And I sit very still, and breathe very deep.
Thus is the life with a teenager. God, I hope we both survive.