Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Other Side of "T'ween"

Baby. Toddler. Child. T'ween. Teen...

... Adult?

Something's missing. Do you really think they skip merrily and smoothly from being teens to being bona fide adults?

If you said yes you're either not there yet and hopeful... or past it all and forgetful.

I'm not sure whether my status as the parent of two 17-year-olds, a 20-year-old and a 23-year-old and my degree in Developmental Psychology give me the credentials to do this, but I humbly take it upon myself to decree the years between 17 and 21 the "TEELT" years.

(Or, if you want to be difficult about it -- and let's face it, that'd be perfectly apropos -- the "ADEEN" years.)

Here are a few examples of the difference between the various stages:

Baby: "Nigh-nigh!"
Toddler: "No nigh-nigh!"
Child: "Can't I stay up till 11:00? Andrew's parents let him!"
T'ween: "Can I spend the night at Andrew's?"
Teen: "I'm spending the night at Andrew's." (Notice the subtle difference here. Also note the hesitation in your child's voice. What do you think that means?)
Teelt: "Andrew and I are spending the night at Andrea's." (Note that your teelt might attempt to inform rather than to ask. Also note your teelt's assumption that he will be treated like an adult. The fact that he still tests you in this way means he's probably not there yet. The ol' "not while you live under my roof" is perfectly appropriate here. Or, if your teen is especially mature and responsible, you might also reply with "Cool -- thanks for letting me know." S'up to you. Gut instinct is usually a good indicator.)
Adult: "Andrea and I are moving in together. C'mon over for a celebratory dinner!"

Baby: "Ba-ba"
Toddler: "
Capri Sun
Red Bull
Jagermeister (with Red Bull)
Chateau Ste Michelle

Baby: Learns to deposit items into containers. This is an important stage of development and indicates improving hand-eye coordination and muscle development.
"Kyeen up 'ime!"
Child: "I don't wanna clean up my room! I feel like throwing up."
"None of my friends have to clean their rooms. They all have maids."
Teen: Sign on door: "Stay out. Do not enter. Toxic Waste Area."
"Chores? Dude, I have a REAL JOB."
Adult: "Can I keep all my memory bins and extra stuff in that room, just until I buy my own place?"

How do teelts differ from teens? I think they've proven themselves more -- they've either proven themselves to be mature and trustworthy... or they've shown that they're not to be trusted and that they're not mature and grown-up yet.

Whereas teens are in the misdt of that struggle, teelts have settled in, one way or another.

We have always told our kids that our "default setting" is trust. They have always known that we trust them completely until and unless they demand otherwise... that it's up to them to either maintain our trust or to betray it.

By now, we're all more confident in who they are, how we most effectively interact, and how much tether is still necessary. If they were to screw up really big, they probably would have done it by now, so at this point, both our teelts and we parents indulge in a bit of a sigh of relief. Along with that sigh of relief comes another layer of trust that goes both ways. They trust us enough to share a great deal about their lives with us now -- even when we're not thrilled about what we hear -- and we trust them enough to know that they're acting with enough responsibility and maturity to stay safe.

And really, isn't their safety ultimately our biggest concern?

At least two of our kids are not yet adults. They still need parenting, even when they insist that they don't. And actually, they're more apt to ask for parenting (usually in the form of a solicited opinion) now than when they were t'weens and teens. I think that the really big step between teelts and adults is the moving out step. And I don't mean moving out to go to college. Before Elisabeth graduated, came back to Seattle and found her own place, I would have believed that... but THIS is so different. She now completely and totally supports herself, whereas in college we paid for her housing, food and tuition. Leaving home is still a teelt thing, I think, but moving into one's own home (whether it's rented or purchased) rather than dorms, a college apartment or home-for-the-summer, is an indicator of true adulthood.

Elisabeth is now an adult. She has her own career, pays all her own bills, and is even looking to buy her own place (watch for my blog entry this coming Sunday, when we'll accompany her on a house-hunting day, per her request). Aleks and Kat are clearly teelts. They still live at home, albeit with much more freedom than they had as t'weens or teens, we still pay for their support, and they'll soon be headed off to do college -- a very teelt thing.

Peter is... hmmmmm -- Peter is somewhere between teelt and adult. He divides his time between Danelle's house with her family and our house with our family (but always spends the night at her house because she has the queen-size bed!) and he pays most of his own bills other than what he consumes at home. But he's not yet a full-fledged adult because he still relies on us for schooling and some (but not many) costs and neither he nor Danelle have their own place.

They've grown up and are moving on at their own pace. And just as when they were toddlers and I realized that there was no PAUSE button in this parenting adventure, I've come to realize -- and attempt to accept -- that they will soon ALL be full-fledged adults. I fully anticipate that that stage will have its own joys and challenges, just like all the others have.

Now if only there were another stage between menopause and old.

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Anonymous said...

Oh, but I think that there is a stage between menopause and old. I am past the menopause age, but I certainly don't consider myself "old". Not like those other people we like to call "old foggies", who invariably happen to be the same age as we are. Teehee!
But what to call ourselves? I don't have enough imagination to come up with anything. Any ideas?

Anonymous said...

BTW, how is Bailey coming along?

Carol said...

Bailey is back to her ol' spunky self and Boo finally decided that Bailey smells right again -- even though her shave makes her look like she has a mowhawk... with holes where her Franken-kitty tubes were!

Thanks for asking, Renate.

By the way, when will YOU start your blog so I can return the favor and comment?!


Goofball said...

I really liked your post today! There's a lot of parenting wisdom in it and also humor :). I think you're children are lucky to have you as their mom.

I never looked at stages that closely and I think I made all transitions fairly gradual without too much hick-ups, but that's maybe something we should ask my parents :p. I liked the comparison's though. They were very recognisable and funny.

Good to hear Bailey is back her old self! Yeahhh for the cat!

Anonymous said...

I guess I don't feel I have enough interesting things to say to have a blog. Plus, I'm pretty computer illiterate and wouldn't know where to start. Don't you have to know html?

Carol said...

Renate, if you can post comments on a blog, you can definitely blog!

Go to or (I'd chose Wordpress if I were to start over), and just follow the prompts. Easy as pie!

And as far as having nothing to say -- that's true about most of us!! We say it anyway! And for some reason, people come and read.

Start with my meme today (to be posted soon; I'm still working on it). I tag YOU!!!!


Anonymous said...

Oh great...another stage to look forward to! This is actually quite clever. :)

Um Renate? I'm pretty dense with anything technical, so you certainly can do it. And if nothing interesting happens on any given day, just make something up. You know, like a new developmental stage!

Having used both, wordpress is the way to go. And it's super easy to switch over Carol!)

Anonymous said...

Carol, Susan:
Thanks, I might just have to give this blogging thing a try. I'm just afraid I'm not interesting enough and I am certainly not a writer. Although I love to read and am never, ever without a book.

Carol said...

Au contraire! You are BOTH!

Let's make this easier. Here's your assignment: start a blog on either of the sites I mentioned, then make your own answers to the meme I posted today your very first post!! OR just do that "100 interesting thing about me" meme. That's always a good opening post!


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