1. Don’t admit you are his mom, especially to his friends. Alternate introductions include: private chauffeur, aging foreign exchange student, or… on second thought, just don’t talk.  

2. Don’t be loud. Anything that draws attention to your teenager’s existence on this planet is forbidden. No, it is life ending. Forget about casual conversation in a waiting room, or asking what he is going to order at a restaurant. Even if there are no other humans within earshot, your vocal register should be whisper-adjacent. For reference, always speak as though you are the girl hiding in the closet in Taken, trying to talk to Liam Neeson on a cell phone without the criminals hearing you. When in doubt, refer to Rule #1. 

3. Knock. Remember when your kid used to be wrapped around you like a heavy kimono and you prayed (in your Taken voice) for him to grow up and give you some space? Congratulations, that day has come. Your shoulders feel lighter without 40 pounds of toddler hanging from them, and the door to his bedroom is permanently closed. Knock before entering. You wouldn’t want him busting in on you in the middle of your ‘is that new cellulite on my left thigh?’ evaluation, so give him the same respect. 

4. Don’t flinch. Teenage surprises are around every corner, so you need to be prepared for anything. Like that episode of Friends, when Ross tried to teach everyone ‘unagi.’ You wake up and your kid is a head taller than you? UNAGI. He calls you annoying in front of the other moms? UNAGI. He asks you to delete your Instagram history so that his friends can’t see old photos of him? UNAGI. 

5. Stay away from school. Preferably 100 feet, as though you have a restraining order against you. If possible, hide your vehicle behind a dumpster at pick-up time, and text him your location. (Your name in his phone will be ‘Ughhhhhh.’) Never attempt conversation with a teacher, a student, or the crossing guard: not even unagi can save you from that backlash.

6. Seize affection opportunities. We all know that if your husband was grouchy, mean, and rolled his eyes every time you spoke, you would kick his ass to his mother’s house and drink a lovely rosé for dinner. When your kid treats you this way, your bizarre mom DNA still wants to wrap your arms around him and kiss his head. In order to not get pushed away, you must strike like a Black Mamba at any opportunity. Look for signs of weakness: a case of the flu, sitting himself in a public space like the living room couch, early morning grogginess. Then pounce, squeeze, sniff, and get the hell out of there.  

© Calling All Cool Moms 2019