parenting: the ultimate shark attack (aka survival skills for the teen years)

We’re navigating tempestuous waters here.  Some days it’s smooth sailing, others the sea is gray and choppy with a tornado warning to boot, but BrightSide and I are in this for the long haul. You take what life throws at you and keep on swimming.

Wasn’t it just yesterday these kids were all skinned knees and fighting over whose turn it is?  Wait, that was yesterday.  But you know what I mean.  We’re swimming with the sharks these days.

But to survive the sharks, all you need is a plan.

Keep eyes wide open.  At all times.  Sleep in shifts if you have to.

Sharks are squirrelly.  Sometimes they lunge, going straight for the kill.  Sometimes they bide their time, planning their attack, working together in sneaky and underhanded ways to finagle bikes or go carts.  Let those suckers out of your sight at your own peril.

Breathe in, breathe out, and don’t make any quick movements.

Panic starts the feeding frenzy, and there’s nothing like parents floundering frantically to signal weakness.  There’s a small chance, if you’re very (very) quiet, that your offspring will veer right around you in search of some friends instead.  Never stand between a teen and an open fridge, pantry, or microwave.  If you must move, move slowly and deliberately, but never turn your back on a ravenous adolescent.

Use the buddy system.

You’re never more protected than when you’ve got a partner on your side.  Sure, you can use structural defense, keeping your back against a wall to prevent sneak attacks.  Still, the adage having eyes in the back of your head applies.  Holding court back to back with your partner gives you 360° of defense maneuverability, and that agility can be the difference between a quiet Saturday afternoon or tickets to the circus.

Don’t roll over.

That’s right, playing dead won’t convince your kids that you’re a no go – going belly up just gives them a nice soft target when they’re on the attack.  The best defense is a good offense, so when teens get too big for their britches (yep, I said britches) it’s time to remind them that you’re a credible threat.  Vulnerable areas?  Phones, social media, TV, and time with friends.  Use what works.  Double down when need be.

Don’t give up.

Though the road is long and often uphill, stick to it.  Remind yourself that you’re raising human beings, and we already have enough a**holes in the world.  So dig in, remember that your kid’s got enough friends, and keep fighting the good fight.

Get out, get out, get out.

You’ve managed to survive a teen encounter, but don’t be fooled: they’ve wandered off to tweet a friend but that doesn’t mean they won’t be circling back around to you.  Look for the closest refuge – laundry room, closet floor, Starbucks – and take cover a break.  Try not to draw attention to your exit or you may find yourself waylaid by round two of “but all of my friends have a (fill-in-the-blank)”.

“We get by with a little help from our friends.”

Remember that you’re not in this alone.  Use your resources.  Often.  Facebook rants are fair game; so are nutty e-mails to siblings and best friends.  Schedule a night out with the gang…it’s amazing what a martini transfusion can do for the spirits after a long week of wrestling hormones.


This post was sourced from WikiHow’s How to Survive a Shark Attack.  Seriously, guys, it’s worth visiting for the illustrations alone.  That panicked, bug eyed look…well, let’s just say I’ve seen that particular face in the mirror more than twice.

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