I used to see teen as a derogatory term because everyone was using it that way, with a warning tone in their voices. I didn't want to set my kids up for failure simply because they were a certain age, and I didn't want to give them a label to live into. So I tried referring to them as young adults. Calling them old children seems more appropriate at times but there again - age stereotyping.
They are fourteen, fifteen, and seventeen. So be it.
I don't know that there is a legitimate line you cross over, where one side you're a child and the other side an adult. No such line. I've seen small children do very brave and noble things, hard things, and I've seen people well into adulthood do some pretty stupid stuff, so I can only conclude that adulthood is just any age over 17, not a statement of maturity.
My ten year-old is an older elementary child, almost a middle schooler, and not quite at that pre-teen stage you also hear warnings about.
It seems we must have a label for everyone.
All I can really say at this point is that people are difficult at every stage and our desire to complain about our restless baby, tantrum-throwing toddler, tormented teen, or even our aging and forgetful parents, is a desire to put ourselves in the middle of whatever it means to be grown-up. Everyone else has a problem, and we have to deal with it because we're in the middle.
I'm almost forty - hormonal, tired, softening. I'm sitting here with my little bag of magic beans, the kind you put in the microwave so you can drape it across your neck or lower back or abdomen, and I'm sorry for always laughing about that, mom. Back when I was a teen, you know.
If a good life is 80 years then I am in the middle.
This is what I think is possible: all people are difficult in their own stages. Scripture would back me up by telling us we all have sinned, are born with a draw toward sin, continue giving birth to sin with our insatiable desires and lusts and our insistence on placing ourselves in the middle of our own universe.
Why must the people in the middle always look at those behind or those in front and lament their problems? It's always a younger sibling, a parent, a child, an adult child, and a parent again. It's always us, bringing our own perceptions and problems to the table as we confront your issues.
People are difficult and we try to fix them, looking at specks and swinging logs about at every stage of our lives. I suppose I can't really speak for the ages I haven't come to yet. Maybe at 50 I will be done with speck inspection and will have moved past the blurriness of blaming others. Maybe 60, or 70? Perhaps at 80 I just won't care anymore.
Acknowledging that people, in general, are difficult for other people to deal with should help me realize that at this very moment I may be difficult in someone else's life. I may be the gravel in your shoe and the thwarter of all your plans.
It's a sobering thought for someone who just wants everyone to be happy, really. It means that I have to consider that maybe I'm being unreasonable, or maybe I'm not seeing the whole picture, or possibly I'm just wrong.
Another possibility is that I've been placed here for such a time, to be the gravel and thwart the plans and redirect your course. Again I can blame God for this, but in 10 years we may thank Him.
Let's just stick it out together and thank God for the kind of grace that allows us to love enemies and neighbors and all difficult people.