By Cheryl Gochnauer
[email protected]
Copyright 2003

Something wonderful happened this summer between me and my 15-year-old daughter. It may sound unbelievable, but I think I actually LIKE this girl!

Parents of elementary kids and under may be saying to themselves, "What's she talking about?" But those in the teen trenches will tell you - it ain't easy nudging these overgrown gangly birds onto the right flight path. They're perfectly ready to jump out of the nest; that's not the problem. It's the way they land with a thud or go "SPLAT" as they dive right into the nearest wall. (Which you've been pointing out as a hazard since they were six. But do they listen? Of course not. You're just their mom.)

Since I'm a so-called parenting expert (a title I cherished until my daughter hit puberty and all the wheels fell off), it's been humbling to find myself regularly washed up on Beats Me Beach. ("Why do they do the things they do?" "Beats me.")

One of the benefits of being a stay-at-home mom is that you're around to irritate your teen all the time. You're constantly there to provide direction (that they don't take), suggestions (that they don't follow) and protection (that they dodge as much as possible).

At least it seems that way. Until the day arrives when you realize they were listening, after all. Not to the angry words or threats or temper; they tuned those out, and rightfully so. But somewhere in the flak they snagged chunks of advice that worked, most of which were sprinkled with large doses of parental love. And - amazing as it may seem - you've been listening, too. Somewhere along the way, you've found some middle ground where the two of you can do more than co-exist. You can respect and - surprise! - even enjoy each other.

I used to comfort myself by saying, "Only six ... only five ... only four more years, and she's outta here." Now I think, "Only three more years, and she's outta here," but I've got a completely different expression on my face. I like this girl. I really, really like her.

I suspect she'll send me and her daddy through the blender a few more times before she leaves, but I have a feeling the worst is over.

Of course, I haven't handed her the car keys yet.

Comments? Write [email protected] or visit her website at www.homebodies.org. Cheryl's books, "So You Want to Be a Stay-at-Home Mom" and "Stay-at-Home Handbook: Advice on Finances, Parenting, Career, Surviving Each Day & More" are available at your favorite bookstore, or you can order an autographed copy directly from Cheryl by following this link: http://www.gospelcom.net/homebodies/bookstore/orderSAHH.htm

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