And so it begins…

My son turned thirteen last month. Thirteen.  You know, the age their eyes roll back into their heads and molten lava starts shooting out from every orifice.


So many, many things changed in an instant.

The day after he became a teenager, he announced at breakfast, “Mom, I need to do some chores because I need some money. And I think I want to go to the school dance next week. Oh, and I gotta go take a shower now.”

Whoa, whoa whoa — stop right there. Dance? Money? Okay, okay. I can handle that. But voluntary hygiene? You mean I won’t have to spend the better part of the morning begging you to scrape the putrid seven layer grime of raw sewage off your Sasquatch feet? Be still my beating heart! Think of all the free time I’ll have! My nose hairs might even grow back again! Oh joy! He willingly wants to take a shower! Maybe having a teen in the house won’t be so bad after all?

Oh, it be bad. Along with his newfound sense of cleanliness, all of a sudden my son thinks he’s capable of being by himself with no adult supervision.

Yesterday he called me on his little TracFone: “Hey, Mom,” he mumbled.  Because mumbling is the only language teenage boys understand. “I’m gonna stay after school and hang out in the field with Cameron and some friends before soccer practice, okay?”

Hold up.  You? In a field? With friends? Weren’t you the same boy who just THIS MORNING had to ask me for help because you couldn’t figure out how to open the car door? Suddenly you’re competent and responsible? Oh, no. Nope. That’s not how adulthood happens. You don’t pick Fruit Loops out of your belly button and eat them and then the next day hang out in a field with some possible psycho-killer named Cameron. Sounds like a made-up name to me. But my son wants me to believe he’s “mature” now. I’m not sure I’m buying it.

“Yes, Mother. I shall be arriving momentarily at the athletic excursion whereupon I shall congregate amongst my colleagues sans supervision.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll call you if I need anything,” mumbled my 13-year-old son.

Call me? You don’t even know how to dial numbers! Do you even know any numbers?

“Okay, call me,” I sighed. “Please. Please for anything. Anything at-”

He hung up.

I suppose I should be happy because that was the longest conversation we’ve had in months.

The next day, still riding high on soap fumes from his second shower of the day, I drove my teenager to his soccer game.  About a mile away he suddenly mumbled with urgency, “Don’t drop me off at the field. Don’t get out of the car. Don’t talk to me. Don’t even look at me. Just drop me off in the parking lot. Wait, no — just slow down here and I’ll jump out.”

Right, because God forbid any of his buddies within a 150 mile radius get the slightest hint that I exist at all. Death in a ditch is more preferable.

This coming from a boy who not that long ago, if I were a mere millimeter outside his peripheral vision for a nanosecond all hell broke loose.

“Okay, mommy’s just going to step over here to get your baba…”


I pulled up to the soccer field still a bit stung by my beloved son’s dogged determination to pretend I’m not alive. I leaned over and said, “Tell you what. First thing tomorrow I’m going to buy a wig, dark sunglasses and a fake mustache. Then I’m going to steal the Invisibility Cloak from Harry Potter, you know, just in case my wig falls off. Then I’ll buy tinted windows for the car in case the cloak falls off. If your friends are within earshot, I will only speak to you in sign language. Not a sign language that anyone can understand but a made-up language only you and I know.  If there’s a slight chance one of your friends cracks the code,  I’ll communicate to you only with my eyes and mental telepathy.  But I won’t look directly at you. I won’t make eye contact. I’ll look a little off to the side. If I’m breathing too much or too loud while we’re communicating telepathically, I’ll hold my breath until I pass out.  Okay?”

“Okay,” my son shrugged and he was gone, leaving me in a cloud of Axe shampoo.

Which was good because now I have loads of free time to search for invisibility cloaks on eBay.

112 thoughts on “And so it begins…

  1. I remember when my oldest son turned 13. For the next 5 years he stared at his shoes and mumbled “eyedon’tno” (it’s one syllable) when I could get anything out of him at all. Then he turned 18, got married, and had a son. When my grandson turned 13, my son came to me for sympathy and I started laughing. It’s been 10 years and I still haven’t stopped…

    1. I’m getting used to his mumbling and crushing silence. I’m even starting to embrace it a little because my 8-year-old daughter talks a mile a minute. I can’t WAIT to be a grandma for the reason you mentioned.

  2. Ha! Well if you’ve only just started being a complete embarrassment to him now, you’ve done well, I’m pretty sure it was well before my two hit their teenage years that I became a source of complete humiliation for them with everything I said or did…or didn’t say…or didn’t do. But hey, overall the teenage years are pretty cool I would say, and far more enjoyable than I expected! You’ll be fine, that is as long as…well…how can I put this? Um…well actually…best I don’t say anything, it might not happen to you at all. Forget I said anything. Yep, you’ll be fine!

    1. WHAT? TELL ME V!!! TELL ME!

      No, don’t tell me. I like to live in denial.

      And no doubt I’ve been a huge source of humiliation for the boy for years but this year he’s finally realized he doesn’t want to up with any of it and decided I don’t exist outside the house.

      1. OK, not being a mother, I will give you a hint – buy LOADS of handcream (you would embarrass your son if it was a lubricant, even though that will be what he needs) and even more tissues – in fact, try to find a tissue-factory near you and get a subscription. Let his father get him some condoms. Unless you want to be a grandmother a little TOO early.

    2. But that is what is part of the joy of having a terrible teenager – oh the joy you derive from humilating them by just existing as embarassing as you master (which can be PRETTY embarassing if you just set your mind to it – think Huxt.. then again, don’t … think Roseanne)

  3. Emma

    Very funny post! My son did the same at 13, it gets progressively worse. My son is now 15, I’d advise investing in gas masks and bio suits for when your son gets to that age, in the event that you may need to enter his bedroom! They say that it all eases off again at around the age of 17. I’m counting down the years, months, hours, minutes and seconds!

    1. I think the biggest challenge for me is letting him go. Everyone warned me to enjoy the early years because they go by so fast and you know what? They were so right. Enjoy that boy of yours. Smother him with hugs because my son (who is the sweetest boy, really) cringes if I try to even pat him on the head.

  4. Once again, your mad Photoshop/Pain skillz are causing me to snort morning beverages out my nose. Shame on you.

    Since I only had girls, I haven’t experienced the teens of boys (good luck with that, by the way) but my hubby has told me about his “IneedaridebutdropmeoffablockawaysonobodyknowsIhaveparents” years, and they sound remarkably like your situation. Too bad his parents had access neither to Ebay nor really first rate invisibility cloaks back in the day, and just had to slunk down really low behind the wheel.

    1. If he could teleport to all his soccer games, he would. I know he’s counting down the days until he gets his driver’s license. Then dear ol’ ma will be left in the dust. Sigh. Just gotta wait it out for grandkids now.

  5. Darla, you’re looking at this all wrong. NOW you have Power with a CAPITAL P. Because if he doesn’t toe the line, you will intentionally embarrass him. This tactic worked so well for me that my son volunteered to go to military school.

      1. My breathing had that effect on Jacob.

        If it is any comfort, he is now delightful to be around (which is good, because I’m pretty sure he’ll be in my basement until I’m buried down there.)

  6. Has he asked you for beer money yet? No? What about girls? Has he discovered girls yet? My 14-year-old daughter just had her first break up. Her ex-fella got kicked out of their group for breaking up with her. Shane. What he hell kind of name is Shane, anyway? Who names their kid Shane? Rhymes with stain, which is what he’s going to be reduced to if I’m ever driving and see him crossing the street. I’m sorry…What was the question?

    1. OH MY GOD! AHHHHH!!! Poor, poor little Stain-Shane. Yep, he doesn’t stand a chance now. I cringe for those days with my daughter. My husband already has a line for any prospective boyfriends: “I don’t mind going back to prison.”

      As for my son, there’s this girl in his class he really, really likes but they’re just friends (he says). But if I say her name his face turns crimson and he starts giggling like a maniac. Oh god, KILL ME NOW.

  7. Please don’t do to your son what my dad did to me at age 12.

    He brought a camcorder to my middle school orientation and attempted to interview all my friends and their parents, asking them questions such as “What is your age?” and “What is your occupation?”

    Slightly traumatic for a middle schooler…

  8. Oh, yeah, been there, done that. I remember the shock when our son (who’s now 19) all of a sudden didn’t need me anymore. And basic hygiene, like nail clipping? Forget it. It’s up and down from here on in. One day’s good, the next 20 not so good.
    As far as letting him off in the ditch goes, take a cue from my dad. When I pulled that on him, he let me off where I asked, then drove slowly behind me. When I got to the school door, he stopped the car and beeped like crazy, waving out the window. Guess that showed me! 😉

    1. You are so right about it being up and down. Although he really wanted to take a shower last week, this week he’d rather be gross and stinky. And his nails are longer than mine are.

      And your dad was an evil genius what that trick he pulled. Bravo.

  9. This is nothing, wait until he discovers puberty! My grandson has no idea what “in privacy” means and is practicing his skills for when they aren’t just a dry-run, 20 times a day, complete with my hand lotion. At least he has a blanket over him or makes a big deal of going into the bathroom or a closet. He is so proud of himself. I walked in one night and he was being so obvious that I asked, “Do you have underwear on?” and he held up his little yellow boxers with the smiley face on the butt grinning all the while. One time Danny inquired about his use of my lotion and he asked “What do you want me to do, get irritation from playing slappity slap?” Of course, the men in the family love it!

    All he talks about at the dinner table is puberty (he is not even there yet), sex and masturbation. Danny and I try to be the responsible grandparents and not laugh while rolling our eyes. He’s our drama king. Yes, he is 13. Our drama queen who is now 29 used to tell us about girls and candles and coke bottles in the restroom at school in the middle of restaurants and not with her inside voice.

    So sit back and enjoy your coffee knowing just how lucky you are. 😳

      1. Oh, no! Not at all! I’m not easily offended.

        I was trying to be funny but it didn’t come across that way. My comment was meant to say that I can’t even begin to imagine my son as a sexual being just yet. I know I have to deal with it soon but maybe I can let my husband deal with it.

  10. Oh no! Is that what’s going to happen? Looks like I’ve got about another 2 1/2 months to enjoy my baby before he completely rejects me and pretends I don’t exist. Maybe if I don’t get him a phone it won’t happen, right? It’s all because of the phone isn’t it. Welcome to teenagerhood.

    1. yup, I think anything that’s designed to drive me nuts, my son is all for it.
      I had five brothers growing up and I swear to you I don’t think I got to even set foot in the bathroom until late high school.

  11. LauraBelle

    When my kids became teenagers my laundry tripled. Suddenly they need to change outfits ten times a day. It stayed that way until they moved out.

  12. The smell of Axe shampoo and sudden appearance of pubes in the shower drain are sure signs that your little boy is becoming a young man. Plus, the fact that he wouldn’t claim you even if you were his luggage at the airport.

    I feel you, Darla 😉


      (sorry, but that was my initial reaction to the word ‘pubes’ used in a sentence about my son)

      Okay, I’ve calmed down a bit now. Deep breaths.

      Nope. Here it comes again:

  13. As I remember with my son, it’s only a very temporary thing….maybe just a couple of weeks….NOT! He had all his friends convinced he had no parents and was cloned from Johnny Unitas.

  14. And the FUN begins….
    Mine have graduated from college, but I remember well. It became a game of prying stories out of my son while plying him with after school snacks at my kitchen counter. I had to ask the right question! That was when he came home….

  15. Dana

    When my mom asked me what I did at school, I always said “nothing”. But, it wasn’t because I was keeping anything from her, I really viewed it as nothing. I sat in my desk, listening to teachers go blahblahblah, went to the next class, same blahblahblah, over and over til it was time to go home, with a boring lunch in between. The only interesting part of the day was the TV I got to watch, when I got home.

  16. Look at the bright side – he volunteers for showers and chores, and I agree with Elyse, he’s now afraid of being embarrassed more than anything. For example, you can get him to wash his soccer cleats by making a casual remark like “it’s a good thing girls don’t hang out with you after soccer, because they’d be horrified by the smell…”
    And imagine the concessions you could get by threatening to drive him to the very edge of the soccer field? With the windows rolled down? While loudly playing some cheesy 70s music? With the possibility of a kiss or a hug as a last resort?

    1. That is so true, X. Because just this week I said to him,”Man, you stink! What is your “friend” that happens to be a girl gonna think?”
      And yes, I will always roll the windows down and blast horrible music. Or just yell out, “I LOVE YOU BABOO!”

  17. What is it with teenage boys and Axe? My nephew used to take a bath in that stuff (And you know what? He still smelled like a gym locker room after a football game.) My sister joked that she should have bought stock in the company.

  18. My son is right behind yours, Darla. It’s already into showers and not talking to me out school. I’m not allowed to get out of the car or touch him. I can still look at him still…so far. And the answer to every question…good! I guess that’s better than “bad.”

    1. Yup, it could be worse I suppose. At least my son gives me one word here and there. He will let me hug him at home but he stands there stiff as a board. My cute cuddle bug is gone. Sniff, sniff.

  19. mollystevens2015

    What fun you have before you! Soon this will be a distant memory since once he’s a parent, you will hear from him a lot. In desperation. As in, can you take the children for the night so you can see your grandsons live another day? Have fun with how much power you now have to totally mortify him by your mere existence. That won’t last forever either.

  20. Oh, being a teenager. What is it all about.

    By the way, you’ve been chosen as one of today’s nine blogs in That’s So Jacob’s Ninth Month Blog Challenge (! I challenge you to find nine blogs you find interesting and give them a comment to brighten their day…well, eight other blogs and mine 🙂 Copy this message in your comment and enjoy your new blog friends!

  21. I remember so well when my sweet daughter woke up on her 13th birthday. Where did she go and who was this thing that took her place? Your blog flashed me right back. You have no idea what you’re going to live through. Oh, but you will live through it.

  22. As an older mama in this arena, I feel your pain… in spades! I just finished a piece about taking my youngest to college (and dare I repeat: I became a grammy this summer!). It all goes so fast. There is so much humor and pathos and drama and more humor in all of it. And in the end, they grow up and our job is done. For the most part. Oh was a crazy world! Loved this.

    1. Thanks, Dawn! Congrats on becoming a grandmother! I can only imagine the emotions I’ll feel when I take my son to college. It was all I could do to get through the ending of Toy Story 3 when he went off to school.

      1. Funny you should mention that… at orientation, one of the professors at his college played about 10 minutes of the ending to Toy Story 3 (which I barely made it through too) and nearly all of the moms in the auditorium were sniffling and the dads were all clearing their throats! Oh man… brutal!

      2. By the way, the piece is currently up at HuffPo (link on my blog)… it was my final child, but it really doesn’t get that much easier! As for grandchildren, you have plenty of time, Darla, but it is sublime! 😉

  23. Truth! All of it! I am convinced that at age 12, an alien ship swaps out our REAL children and replaces them with Aliens. Children we do not recognize. Our REAL children are returned at age 21. I assumed it was only girls that were involved in this transaction but I now see it is gender blind. I look forward to the updates!

  24. gatergirl96

    Good luck too you with your little one on his teenage journey!! It’s a trip you both will laugh, cry, and love over the years.

  25. I only had girls who were a lot like me, or so I thought, at that age. I guess since my mom always obsessed over my teenage zits I did not have to do it and so was totally unaware when Daughter #1 became too ill to go to school. I, as her too ignorant or too involved with her PIB (Pain in the Butt) younger sister, Mom, never noticed any facial bumps that appeared coincidentally at the same time. As a girl, we finally fixed those problems by putting her on the pill.

    I am also a fan of the Roseann parenting style which I noted was sometimes augmented by characters having their thoughts vocalized a la the “Look Who’s Talking” films. That would make parenting, especially of a teen, so much easier. But of course God, with His wicked sense of humor, would not allow us poor mothers to have that ability, if only for that very short time. After that, I have found that I don’t need or want to know what they’re thinking.

  26. I’m sorry to say that my favorite part of this blog was finding out I’m not the only mother whose son has not spoken more than six words in succession to in the past 6 years (mine is 16 going on 17). Because, misery loves company. 😜 Oh, and not to burst your bubble or anything… but the showers don’t last – at least not in between girlfriends.

    Have fun!

  27. You will do great, really I promise. This phases passes in the blink of an eye and then they are back to human and loving and wonderful again. Really, I promise. My oldest turns 38 tomorrow. He is all that and a bag of chips.

  28. Hey there, so I believe I might be the only actual teenager here, but I found your blog on accident. Anyway, it seems I’m going about this wrong, my affections for my mother has increased, I don’t know if it’s because I’m a girl but..yeah. My conversations with my mother go: “Hey mom, I’m going to stay after school for a concert the girls are in ok?” and she would respond, “alright, how does this affect me?” “it affects you, mother dearest, because I want you to pick me up” and then she’d sigh and begin, “Mar-” and I’d cut her off with “thanks mom, love you”. and that would be the end.

    When I decided that my friends are worthy, I introduce them to my mother to get her opinion, no matter their gender. Sometimes, she tells me I don’t have to and she trusts my judgement, but I’m 15 and I want HER thoughts on them. She doesn’t care that I’m an antisocial person; belligerent and obnoxious most of the time, and mainly hanging out with the boys the others, but I sort of want her to tell me that I should be more social and have fun with the others of my kind. It’s weird xx

  29. What is it with the Axe? They pour it on every body part, use it as deodorant, wash their hair with it (something is better than nothing) diligently until about age 15. Is the age at which the girls finally get sick of it. When I drove mine to school, the odor cloud followed the car.

  30. Nora S.

    Oh My God, you are hillarious!!! I just discovered your blog,but just adore your sense of humor. My son hasn’t even turned 12 yet, and started with all this teenage drama. Reading your blog makes it all much lighter and easier to survive.Thanks.

  31. anxiouseating

    7 more years and my son will be 13. It seems like forever but I know it’ll goby so fast.

    Give me all your tricks and secrets on how to raise these monsters LOL!

    *Follow back*

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