That Darn Cat

I read an article recently about communicating with your teenager (a little research couldn't hurt, right?), and the author made an interesting analogy between younger and older children.

Babies, toddlers and younger children are like puppies: You can hug them and kiss them and love on them forever, and they eat it up... they just can't get enough affection/attention.

In contrast, pre-teens and teenagers are like cats: They avoid you most of the time, every once in a while they might seek you out... but it's always on their own terms, never yours. AND THERE IS NO TOUCHING OF ANY KIND.

First let me say that I think this author is right on the money with this analogy... which is unfortunate, because I'm not terribly fond of cats. I mean, they're ok, but I've always been a dog-lover and have never had the urge to own a cat. Ever. I've never liked their "kiss-off, I'm too good for you" attitude... they don't seem especially fun and/or playful... and they could care less when you want someone to sit with you and watch the latest episode of Project Runway.

(At this point I would like to give a shout out to The Dingo, who always watches TV with me. He'll watch anything, too... even the Real Housewives of Atlanta. He sits right next to me while those crazy women holler and pull on each other's artificial hair in restaurants, and he never judges me.)


Now this lady's telling me that, thanks to a hormonal tsunami, my cute little canine is gone and, congratulations, you're the proud owner of a persnickety, hissing feline.

That's. Just. Awesome.

Since I wasn't fully aware of the magnitude of this transormation until now, it's logical to assume that I was making some of the cardinal mistakes people make when trying to... uh, talk to their cat. Actually, I was making MOST of the cardinal mistakes. But I'm aware now, and I'm working on it.

I'm trying not to make every conversation feel like I've led Tyler to a dark cellar with a single chair in the middle of the room, armed with a high-voltage spotlight (here, kitty kitty kitty...). I'm trying to take in stride behavior that's perfectly normal for a teenager, but at times does a tap dance on my last nerve. I'm trying to give him space without completely removing myself from the loop... I am still the mother of this hairball-spewer, after all.

And I will try... ugh, this is so hard for me, CONTROL FREAK NUMBER ONE... I will try to let him make his own choices, even if they aren't the choices that I think would make his life easier. I've realized that it's counter-intuitive for a parent to abstain from protecting their child, both from the world and from themselves. But even stronger than that realization is my general philosophy about parenting: If you're doing it right, you work yourself right out of a job.

I have to let him falter and fail, I know that. I know that. But it's much easier said than done because, as it turns out... I love that darn cat.


Tennille said...

That's a very interesting analogy, and kind of a sad one, too. I don't like cats, either.

Jodi said...

good luck !!! I am glad my kids are still in the dog stage, I am not looking for to the cat stage.