Everything you’ve heard about teenagers is true. You’d think I might have recalled some of this from my own teen years … or perhaps those of my former sister-in-law, whom I met when she was 12 … or my years working at a high school … or my stepson who lived with us half the time from the ages of 10 to 19. 

And yet somehow, with my own teenage daughter, it’s all a fresh and intriguing mystery, happening right in front of my face. 

Thankfully, I have other teenage-girl-parent friends to commiserate with: the friend drama, the slammed doors, the rolled eyes, the battles over clothing choices and curfews; it’s all pretty universal. 

One friend came to work last week still a bit shell-shocked from an argument with her daughter about cereal that morning. I understood: My argument was from the night before and over French fries, but I feel like the ratio of raw and powerful rage to the actual offense committed (buying the wrong brand of cereal; not promptly restocking the French fries after she and her friends ate them all the day before) was comparable. 

For all of the moodiness, though, and all of the added stress – the driving them all over creation, the constantly changing plans, the frustration and tears over math assignments I can’t even begin to understand, the weird sleep schedules, the long showers, the room absolutely carpeted in discarded clothing that may or may not be clean – I honestly love this stage of life.

I love listening to these kids discuss politics in my car. I love watching them discover their talents and their passions. I love hearing their righteous fury at the injustices in the world. I love their excitement and enthusiasm for life, even when it wears me out. 

There are rough days, to be sure, and times I’d rather be literally anywhere than in my own home dealing with some of this shit and times I just want to curl up and cry and would do anything to take on some of her pain and angst. But overall, it’s actually pretty cool to be watching her – and all of her friends – grow up. It’s an honor and a privilege to witness.  

As long as I don’t run out of French fries.