I have two thirteen year old boys! Yep two of them, twins. Their dad was killed a week after their thirteenth birthday. I am not sure when the right time to loose a dad is, but I am thinking a week after turning 13 isn't great timing! I also have a 17 year old son who is mostly human and is thoughtful and does even contribute in a positive way. Back to the 13yo's, I am so glad it is a stage. I do remember that 14 comes after 13 and 14 can be just as bad, if not worse, but again I keep reminding myself that it is just a stage. We made it through the first son, I can make it through the next two.
Over the weekend, their uncle, my husband's brother, took them camping. Neither wanted to go. Both were just about dragged out of the house but Uncle and I insisted they go. There were tears and stomping and whingeing. There was some tough love and some firm management. But we insisted that they go. They need secret men's business.
Living with teenagers, and parenting teenagers is a lot like living with toddlers. Terrible twos and threes become terrible thirteen and feral fourteen. They have temper tantrums, mood swings, a growing sense of independence, yet are not grown up yet either. They eat a lot, but have finicky tastes. What they eat in bulk this week is rejected out of hand next week. They scream and yell and tell you that you make their life miserable and that you have no idea about them. Then the very next day, or even late that night, they come crawling into bed with an "I love you mum" and occasionally an "I'm sorry". It is baffling and confusing at times. I am learning to greet the little human glimpses with joy and love and acceptance (even if I am still smarting from the fight previously).
I remember speaking to my mum, a high school teacher, one day when the twins were little and having the horrifying realisation that they would one day be 13 together. It was a terrible thought. My husband was a strong man, and a firm parent. He was probably too strict at times, well I used to think so anyway. (it was one of the recurring fights we used to have - he thought I was too soft, and I thought he was too hard). Despite that, I had him and he had me. We helped each other parent. It never occurred to me that I would get the terrible 13's and feral 14's on my own!!!!! AND to add to that, a wallop of grief and a dose of trauma. Half the time I don't know what is normal 13yo behaviour and what is grief. I may not have a husband anymore, but I still have men in my life who are becoming the "village". I am discovering that I need to cultivate and grow that village of men who can help guide the terrible ferals into wonderful mature men one day.
Oh, and those terrible 13yo's who didn't want to go camping, didn't want to go home the next day!