We watch with keen but with seemingly casual eyes. We watch for shifts in normal - signs of stress, sadness, fear or any hint of darkness. We are their protectors.
We witness the struggles and emotional moguls as they navigate the tumultuous years of teenage hood. And when we can't be a party to certain collision or implosion, we advise -- ever so gently. Its risky business, this advising thing ... for at best you can hope for responses that range from rolling of the eyes, looks that scream "you're an idiot", two syllable versions of three syllable words (what-ev), shrugging of shoulders as the fingers fly across the minuscule keyboard, to stomping off to the anti-parent chamber - AKA their room. Total disengagement. Not to fret - it's really not personal.
We have lived and already traversed the rocky terrain that they must travel. We have much to offer - but our well intended wisps of wisdom seem to dissipate the moment they are spoken ...never quite making it to the ears of our beloved teen. But we don't give up when maybe we should at least ease up. We carry on one-way conversation ad nauseam hoping that despite the absence of any form of comprehension or acknowledgement, our words can offer guidance and perspective that could prevent, comfort or save them. And we have to ask . ..are we trying to save them or us from pain? We are their nurturers. But maybe we talk too much.
And then the day comes, if you are really lucky, where you overhear them with a friend, chatting, exchanging rants, and you hear your words (albeit cloaked in teenspeak) offered up as advice or as options. Or you see snippets jotted in birthday cards. Fragments of thought and conversations that have somehow magically penetrated the anti-parent shield like a SCUD missile.
I have learned that despite the lack of confirmation of receipt or seeing any obvious signs of active listening, they do hear. And I suppose as parents we have to choose wisely when to launch those advice/opinion packed war heads. Because in all likelihood most will be intercepted and discarded; but those that do hit their mark better carry important intelligence.