I have been taking my daughter to the doctor over the last few months to make sure her medication is doing what it should be doing. Normally this means that there are questions that need to be answered. The problem is, my daughter clams up and responds in slight nods and quiet ”I don’t knows”. The nurse and doctor then looks at me for more clarification, in which I elaborated on the nods and quiet answers. I learned after the first couple of doctor appointments that if I talk with her while on the way to the appointment I can get the answers needed so the doctor can formulate a helpful plan.
It all comes down to comfort. Yes, my daughter has know this doctor literally her whole life, but it’s only been in the last few months that we have had to see her more than just once a year for the yearly check-ups. My daughter is also a teen who read the rulebook that all teens secretly have that states after the age of 13 they must start to clam up and make it impossible for anyone to know what they really want or how they feel. I feel pretty lucky though, my girls actually talk to me. They like to show me what they are interested in (for the most part) and they are still ok with hanging out with me, especially when I am helping cats.
And on the subject of cats, they must be teens too, because they act exactly like them. We have 5 cats the currently reside at the hospital I work at. Two of them are old and feel the need to boss us around while the other 3 are young and allow us into their lives purely for the fact we feed them, and occasionally sit on the floor for them to sit on us. One cat in particular is the most “teen acting”. She feels the need to boss us around, leave her toys out, and actually plops down on whatever it is that may be taking our attention away from her . She does this though because she is comfortable with us. She doesn’t do this with strangers that walk in, she waits until we are alone working on something important. As I was sitting there today I wasn’t paying attention to her in the manner she felt I should have been and so she reached up with her paws, and promptly grabbed my jacket as she burrowed herself inside. It didn’t matter that she would have fallen off the counter had I not caught her. She got my attention and made me notice her.
Teens just like cats take a lot of work and energy, especially when they are comfortable with you and feel safe in your presence. The complexity that comes from these relationships is not knowing when you will spook them. The other day I said my eldest daughter should take on a task that I thought would help her, she thought about it long enough it overwhelmed her. All I have to do with my middle daughter is completement her on something she does and all of a sudden she is hiding out in her room because too much attention was given to her. We have a cat at the clinic that runs and hides if you come in but will come play with you when you calmly sit on the floor.
I know at one point way back in the “good old days” I was a teenager. I probably acted somewhat similar as my two teens do today. There were people I trusted with every secret, while others I would look at them like they were monsters if they even looked at me. My momma was always willing to let me hang out with her when I just didn’t want to do what all the other kids were doing. Being a mom now I can understand the worries and frustrations she might have had with the things I said and did. She had a great poker face, I would have never known she had any concerns when it came to me though she probably had plenty. I think she did what I am doing now. I am there for my kids and I am talking with God about them daily.
People open up when they feel comfortable with the person they are talking to. Comfort takes a lot of work. It isn’t a simple “hey how ya doing?” It’s a timeline of getting to know someone so that when you ask them “hey how ya doing?” you know if they are telling you the whole story or not. There are days when I would love to not have to hear about the characters in the latest game being played. I would really love not having to hear about the random fact about some fish in the ocean. I would love it, but if they didn’t involve me in these conversations I would miss them terribly, because there is comfort in knowing that I get to be a part of their comfort. Until next time:
Teenager: Noun, Someone who is ready for the zombie apocalypse but not ready for the math test tomorrow