We’re in the midst of GCSE exams – and I am learning a new and delicate dance that reminds me of a dance I had to learn in the toddler years.
My teen wants me to back off. No gentle reminders to revise required, thank you very much. No help with devising a revision timetable. No advice on exam technique. No help with going over material. None of that needed, thanks.
In fact, I have been told in no uncertain terms that any suggestion to study from me will only ensure that less studying is done.
The same applies to nudges towards getting to bed at a reasonable time, or eating sensibly, or use of screens, or dressing appropriately for the weather.
My teenager is wanting to take charge.
In charge of study, and sleep, and diet, and pastimes. In charge at all times… unless it all becomes too much. Then suddenly I am needed – to help with the studies, to cook something nutritious, to remind to go to bed, to suggest a way of managing the work load, to hold the hand of my teenage-toddler.
The speed at which we flip from “Leave me to it!” to “You have to help me!” can make my head spin. Just when I am adjusting to loosening my grip on the tiller, persuading myself to trust that the right decisions will be made or the wrong ones learned from, I am called back on board to help steer the ship again.
It is not unlike the toddler who one moment insists, “No, I do it!” as they struggle with getting dressed or spreading their toast or turning the pages of the storybook; and shortly afterwards is claiming to need help with using a spoon. Toddlers leave our laps to venture into the world, only to run back for a reassuring cuddle. We learn to allow them to go forth and we learn to stay available for when we are still needed.
Useful to me in those years was an image I held of a mother sitting with open arms – open arms not holding onto the toddler on her lap, and open arms welcoming her toddler back when needed.
Now I wish to find a similar image to help me be the mother of a teenager. Any suggestions?