The invasion of the little people, balloon animals and the spaghetti monsters

My good friend Heather and her kids stayed with us in the cramped little terrace last week, and in the midst of the crazy chaos  I was reminded of what life was like with little people. And, amusingly, how similar the teen and tot years are!

My formerly ‘little’ people, are now 12, 16 (soon), and 18 (soon) so it’s been a while since I’ve heard the patter of tiny (human) feet. Suddenly, it all started coming back to me – the worry, that feeling of being ‘on demand’ and the toilet interruptions.

Nothing says ‘Mum’ quite like delivering a lecture on how to do something from the white porcelain throne.

I’d forgotten that little kids are up and at em  from early until late. I’d forgotten that the up and at em activity is usually fast, furious and noisy. And messy.

Teenagers are up late, at both ends of the day, and when they are up their activity is likewise fast, furious, noisy and messy.

I’d forgotten that small kids (3yrs and 5 yrs) haven’t yet learnt that the world does not revolve around them. They are ego centric and quite prepared to call Mama every time they need the earth moved on its axis until it is just-so. And calling Mama they do, every few moments.

Teenagers also are under the misguided belief that Mum is there to wait and serve. And drive. And do washing. If anything goes wrong in a teenager or a small child’s world, it’s Mum’s fault. No juice left in the sippy cup? Mum’s fault. Missed out on breakfast because got out of bed too late after going to bed after night-long Call of Duty sesh? Mum’s fault.

It’s Mum’s responsibility to ensure that the fridge and cupboards are stocked with juice, bread, milk, weetabix and beer.

It’s Mum’s responsibility to provide a bed to sleep in, clothes to mess up and to provide on-demand entertainment. Or at least, to drive to entertainment in the form of that party down country.

It’s bizarre how similar the two stages of life are. It’s as if all the middle childhood years didn’t happen! Everything that was learnt between the ages of 6-12 has been erased from my teens’ memories. Of course in human development terms, both phases are prime times for experimenting with their own ego definition.  Which is really psyc mumbo jumbo that explains why teens and toddlers both:

Want it all, and want it right now!

So when the house guest pulled out balloon creatures, I wasn’t surprised to see both teens and tots join in the fun side by side.

balloon animals

Only a decade between them!

But the scary thing is that although both tots and teens are experimenting with boundaries, with tots you can pull rank. It’s not so easy pulling rank when you are gazing upwards to the Son who towers over you! With tots you can with-hold toys or money or enforce earlier bedtimes. None of those things work with teens. It’s impossible to physically pick them up and haul them off into time out. And that’s another thing – time out is not much of a punishment when your teen is wailing ‘I vant to be alone’ like some modern day reincarnation of a wartime movie star.

Perhaps the scariest thing of all about this teenage stage, is that you well remember the trouble you once got into and you can almost guarantee the kids will experience much the same, and there’s no way you can stop them. In fact, you probably shouldn’t even try.

Son went out on the Friday night to his first stayover party at a friend’s house down country. Imagine a bunch of 18 year olds staying over, (though I did find out that the parentals were upstairs, thank God) and you know what sort of shenagins were on the cards. I delivered my very best drugs’, safe sex and alcohol lectures, and then fully aware that this was the parenting acid test, I waved him goodbye.

I may (or may not have) checked my phone for text messages 75 times between then and when we finally heard from him.

My text: Are you alive?

His text (many hours later) Busy at diner will call later.

We didn’t hear from him later but we did receive a call from the Diner he works in to come and pick up a very poorly Son. But this wasn’t the time to embarrass him with motherly love. I let My Englishman tactfully deal with him; provide a bucket and a litre of water and send him to bed. My job was simply to stand back and let him experience it, without kissing it better or wrapping him in cotton wool. Even though a part of me was desparate to call out – Now let that be a lesson to you young man’.

But I didn’t… After all learning to live well, is a little like learning to ride a bike, you need to fall off at least seven times before you can ride solo. And every time you fall off you have to haul yourself back up onto the bike, because Mum won’t be there to do it for you.

I can’t help feeling it was so much easier when a good party featured balloon animal creations, not mixing cocktails. When a cuddle and a decent a meal of spaghetti monsters would make everything better. But I guess for my eldest those days are past.

What scares the crap out of you more – parenting tots or teens?






'The invasion of the little people, balloon animals and the spaghetti monsters' has 16 comments

  1. March 12, 2012 @ 4:59 pm Midlifesinglemum

    I’m at the ‘on call’ stage with a 3yo – I dream of the day when she will be able to get on with her day’s plans without my constant supervision. On the other hand, now I always know where she is… Hmmmm.


    • March 12, 2012 @ 8:50 pm vegemitevix

      It was amazing to be reminded that every single moment of your day is taken up with what they need to do – from wiping their bum to watching them do something. I’d forgotten how intense it is at that stage. Kudos to you and other Mums of little ones!


  2. March 12, 2012 @ 4:59 pm Midlifesinglemum

    P.S. I love that photo of you in the 2011 postcard!


    • March 12, 2012 @ 8:51 pm vegemitevix

      Awww thank you. Do you mean the one in the hat? That was taken in Queenstown, NZ 🙂


  3. March 12, 2012 @ 7:18 pm Steve

    Tots and teens are exactly the same. Except I was far more successful at getting a girlfriend as a tot than as a teen…!


    • March 12, 2012 @ 8:52 pm vegemitevix

      I know what you mean! I was way more successful at kiss chasey in those days!


  4. March 12, 2012 @ 7:46 pm Katriina

    As my 6 year old daughter’s teacher (whose own children are in their 20s) likes to remind me: “Small children, small problems…”


    • March 12, 2012 @ 8:53 pm vegemitevix

      Hate to say it but that’s been my experience so far. It’s all part of the rich tapestry of life. ;-p


  5. March 12, 2012 @ 8:57 pm Dark Princess

    I like the pic of me and Elvie, Mum!
    I also like the blog, very funny and very true


    • March 12, 2012 @ 9:00 pm vegemitevix

      LOL. Thanks DP. Should we bring the balloon creatures out for your birfday?


  6. March 12, 2012 @ 10:02 pm Blue Sky

    I loved every stage of my 19 year old’s childhood: I found that there were just a few little blips when things got tricky for a while: 8-9 when the first set of hormones kicked in and then 14, when I lost my little girl, but then I got an almost grown up girl instead – about 6 months later 🙂


    • March 14, 2012 @ 10:10 pm vegemitevix

      For us the 10-11yr stage is the first sign of what’s in store. Both of my girls have been a little tearful and all over the place emotionally. But 14-16 has been the hardest time so far, and we’re hoping we’re almost over it. My single aim is to get through it and to have the closeness we once had, back when they get through this ‘alien abduction stage (as my good friend Lori likes to call it)


  7. March 12, 2012 @ 11:18 pm Scottishmum

    The thought of either fills me with dread.  Only one lot left to go…


    • March 14, 2012 @ 10:11 pm vegemitevix

      Gosh, you mean you’ve done this before? Eyes boggle! You need a medal madame.


  8. March 15, 2012 @ 4:21 am MommaBo

    Parenting teens scare the crap out of me more!  With the tots, the risk of failure was usually injury….all the motion and redirection and discipline to ensure the rules were kept.  But with my teens, it seems like life altering actions and decisions are being made and I’m always the bad guy!  No matter what….its my fault.  Parenting tots just made me really tired…all the go go go.  Parenting teens makes me stressed out to the hilit!


    • March 19, 2012 @ 9:36 am vegemitevix

       I think MommaBo that’s the reason why parenting teens typically comes about when you are completely ‘grown up’ yourself. I don’t think I could have handled the stress when I was younger.


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