Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Teenage Months

My boys just turned 14 months...

As I was sitting and playing with them the other day, I had a revelation: my boys are baby teenagers!  They are in their teen months!  I started researching if there might be any parallels between babies in their teen months and teens in their teen years and I realized I was on to something...

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (Here's the link), below are some feelings and behaviors common to teenagers (especially early ones from 13-16 years).  I have put evidence as to how Nolan and Judah fit with many of these. 
  • Struggle with a sense of identity -->  I can see my boys trying to figure out who they are at this time in their life.  They are experimenting with how to get attention, how to get their needs heard and met, how to communicate what they want, and finding things that they like to play with, read, and eat.  Yes, Nolan and Judah were born on the same day at the same time making them twins, but there is not much else that's 'twin' about them.  You don't have to spend time with them long to realize how individual they are.  

  • Feeling awkward or strange about one’s self and one's body --> This one makes me laugh.  If you've seen Nola in a certain pajama outfit or a onesie with shorts as his gut sticks out, you know even this is a part of the teenage months for babies.  Nolan, as a walker, is trying to figure out how to begin to run and walk confidently without looking like he's had one too many milk bottles ;)  Judah, since he isn't walking yet, has been working hard to figure out how he can feel more confident about how strong and capable his legs really are.    Also, Nolan and Judah are exploring all the different parts of their body right now.  They like to touch eyes and put fingers up people's noses or in people's ears.  They love to touch belly buttons, play 'this little piggie' on their toes, and try to figure out how their bodies can bend and stretch.  And, I've got boys so there is one part of the body they continue to be obsessed with, but that's not anything new ;) 

  • Moodiness -->  My boys certainly have been on an emotional roller coaster lately.  One minute they will be happy and content, the next, as if in an instant, they can be in full out tantrum mode.  This may be more true for Nolan than for Judah (Nolan has been demonstrative since the moment he was born), but Judah can go from laughing to tantrum mode just by seeing the Nolan is upset.   It's difficult to keep up with their feelings and moods sometimes. 

  • Interests and clothing style dictated by peer group -->  This one I'm not sure I can find evidence for... Josh and me mostly dictate their style after all ;)

  • Improved ability to use speech to express self --> Yes!  Nolan and Judah are both more verbal these days.  Nolan can say: go, God bless you (kinda), mama, dada, quack quack.  Judah can say: mooo, meow, I did it (kinda), mama, dada.  You can tell, with their babbles, that they are trying to verbally communicate much much more.

  • Less overt attention shown to parents (occasional rudeness is common) --> haha, okay, I can't call my boys rude.  Plus, if anything, they want to spend MORE time with us, not less.  So this one doesn't quite fit :)

  • Complaints that parents interfere with independence -->  Josh and I could be seen as constant 'fun ruiners.'  No, you can't stand up on that chair.  No, you can't crawl to the basement door to fall down the stairs.  No, you can't hit Prim with a remote control.  No, you can't electrocute yourself.  No can't walk out into Lake Huron alone.  No, you can't climb up the deck stairs.  You get the idea ;)

  • Mostly interested in the present, with limited thoughts of the future --> I think this one needs no explanation.  Although I will say that Nolan and Judah aren't in the stage where they can learn their lessons.  Oh, I just put my thumb in a little crevice and got pinched?  I already forgot about that and would like NOTHING MORE than to do that again.  Oh, I fell off a chair head first?  Please watch, MOM, as I become OBSESSED with climbing up onto this chair again. 

  • Rule and limit testing --> Um YES.YES.YES.  You don't want me standing on the couch?  Let me do it anyway, wave, and laugh at you as you run to get me down.  You don't want me taking down every book on our book shelf?  Let me squish myself through all your baracades and take down books one by one by one knowing you can't stop me because you are changing my brother's poopy diapers. 

  • Increased capacity for abstract thought -->  Also so true!  My boys are geniuses!  DUH!  This teenage month stage has left me AMAZED so many times with what they are capable of learning: waving, shaking hands, folding hands to pray, repeated phrases, opening and closing things, tinkering with all toys, stacking blocks, doing a thumbs up, playing hide and seek, etc, etc, etc! 

  • This teenage month stage has been quite a roller coaster for me as well. 

    The highs are SO high, wonderful, and amazing; I can't get enough of all they want and are willing to learn and how many things they are constantly showing us.  I want those play time moments to last forever.  How can you not be on cloud nine when a baby runs into your open arms, stands on their tippy toes at the screen door to greet you when you get home, sits patiently with their hands folded together to wait to say prayers before eating, or learns in to give you a kiss?  How can you not want to cry tears of joy when you see your kids laugh at each other, play together, or hug each other?  

    The lows can also be very low: Nolan having a 20 minute tantrum because he couldn't reach a remote control or Judah just deciding every now and then to NOT take his afternoon nap and how we seem to be consistently one wrong step away from a trip to the emergency room has pushed and challenged me certainly. 

    What I do know is how proud I am to be patient and calm I've been so far during this new stage.  I also know how appreciative and thankful I am that it's summer and I can be there all day every day for Nolan and Judah as they go through these tumultuous teenage months.  I know how powerful and important it is to have consistent parental support through these uncertain and sometimes difficult times (haha) And what I do know, more than anything else, is how much I love my 'teenage' boys! 

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