If you are the parent of teenagers or adolescent children, there’s a good chance that at times you feel invisible.
My now high schooler never needed my help with homework in middle school.
“Need any help?” I would duck my head in her bedroom on occasion and ask even though I already knew the answer.
“Nope. I’m good. Thanks,” she replied without even looking up from her computer.
A fiercely independent child, I didn’t expect her to really need me. Her younger sister had asked for help with homework here and there, but that too waned as middle school approached for her.
Frankly, I hardly recalled a time when I was growing up that I asked my parents for help as they always seemed too busy, too tired or too pre-occupied with the business of running a family to worry about complicated algebra equations or quizzing me on my French words.
Still, it’s nice to be needed. So, when both of my daughters recently started asking me to weigh in on some of their assignments, especially ones that involved writing, I was secretly very pleased.
“Why don’t you try wording it like this?” I said to my daughter after reading over a paragraph she had written. “I like what you’re trying to say, but I think if you switched the order of those two ideas it would make more sense.”
She took to the keyboard and re-worked the sentence and then turned the computer screen back in my direction for me to review her work.
“Yes, exactly. That’s a lot better,” I smiled. “Now let me quiz you for that test,” I said picking up a stack of index cards with phrases and definitions she had carefully crafted.
It’s as if in the midst of the teenage shutout and the adolescence angst where mothers don’t know anything and can’t do anything right, there is this one area where they have found some value in me. Like a spy in enemy territory, I tread lightly, afraid that at any moment they will learn that I am not as smart as they think I am and the jig will be up.
The other day, my older daughter actually gave me a rare compliment after I assisted her with a project.
“Mom, you’re actually a pretty good writer,” she said oblivious to the irony of her remark.
“Thanks, sweetie,” I replied with sincere appreciation. She sees me, she sees me, I silently cheered.
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.