ParentsFebruary 14, 2018

Puberty Blues: A mother on the beautiful horror that is the teenage boy


Puberty: if you’re parenting a teen or pre-teen, it’s inescapable. Mum-of-three Emmaline Matagi gives the lowdown on how puberty has rocked her household. 

HELP! I have an almost 13 year old son and I do not know what the fuck I am doing!

There comes a point in your mummy life when you have to step back and let your children become independent. It happens bit by bit, little by little, one independent decision at a time. I knew this time would come but it feels like it has crept up on me. All of a sudden it is here – in all of its hormonal, complaining, smelly glory!

I have three beautiful children – this is no lie, they are fucking gloriously beautiful. They are never afraid to voice their opinions and they love each other and they love to fight with each other. My oldest son will be 13 in a month’s time and puberty has knocked us on our arse.

It started one morning with “Hey mum my throat is funny and I sound weird”. I looked at my husband like IT IS HERE!

Even though I know children grow up, it came as a shock. When I had my oldest son I was 17 years old. I wasn’t a baby but I sure as hell was not an adult. He has always been my baby and I have treated him as such. My little and sweet boy, my gentle giant, with the biggest heart and kindest soul.

It also feels like he’s still a little boy.

As soon as I heard his voice all croaky and broken I cried. I walked off and cried. He didn’t notice, thank goodness, but I knew the time was here. There was no stopping it.


Here’s what it has been like for us.

Attitude. Seriously, the attitude.

“Son go do the dishes please”







This was constant. Every day. For months. It caused heaps of tension with my husband and me. I’m the enabler who babies my son terribly. My husband is the bad cop who wants to teach lessons about responsibility and doing as you are bloody well told.

It wasn’t just the dishes either – it was everything from grabbing a nappy for his baby brother to putting jandals on instead of shoes. It seemed like every single time he was asked to do something there was a fight to be had. It was absolutely draining on the soul and it took everything in me some days not to lose it.

Can I just wander the streets?

We’ve definitely had the “Can I go with my mates for a bike ride” phase. He constantly wanted to be out with his friends roaming the streets or sitting at the library on the computers using all the free internet. I mean it could have been worse, they could have been doing drugs or stealing or whatever I guess? Mums must look on the bright side.

But I just wanted him home safe! When I was at intermediate we did all the bad things. I experimented. A lot. Had fun. A lot. I walked the streets ’til after dark.

I lived a completely different life to the one I want him to live.

Every time I said no to him going out with his friends I was met with the same old grunt attitude growl complain attitude grunts storm off grunting attitude.

I am slowly learning to let go and let him have his time. I am learning to have faith that he won’t make the same mistakes I made, and that I’ll be here for him even if he does.

The conversations are now “Mum can I go to the library with my mates?”

“Yes be home by exactly 4pm if you are not in this door at 4pm I will take alllllll the things away, no PS4, no phone, no laptops, no life!”

And yes I do sit by the door watching the clock and counting the minutes, and yes I know how stupid that sounds!

Too cool for anything

Then there was the too cool for family outings phase.

“Lets go to the pools!”

“Oh can I just stay home I don’t really wanna go swimming.”

When did this become a thing? My husband and I always make time to do family stuff with all the kids because we have such fond memories of activities with our siblings and cousins. It breaks my heart that now it’s the last thing he wants to do. I understand I guess – who the hell wants to go swimming with their two-year-old brother when they can laze around the house playing PS4 and eating snacks? I would opt out too. Can I have a week at home without anyone around?

It’s something I have to deal with. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that he is actually too old to be mini golfing and too old to feed the ducks with us. He’s no longer that little kid who was amazed by the crazy geese at Western Springs chasing him. It takes time to understand that everything has changed.

The smell

Real talk. One minute your child smells like baby powder and the next….well. The smell. You can’t get it off anything. It sticks. No matter how many times I wash his uniform all I can smell is boy. His bedroom smells like boy. I can’t leave him alone in a room without fully ventilating it because boy. You think you can handle smelliness because they are usually smelly anyway but there is something about this weird hormonal smell that is just next level. It makes me want to pour Janola over our entire lives. I leave him in the car to go grab something from the supermarket, come out and my car is: Boy.

What do I do? How long does this last? Where do I go to save myself? There is only so much Scentsy one can buy!

Get ready for nothing to be the same ever again

Every month there is something new with this puberty business. There should be a manual for mums to go through, but I can’t find one. Actually there should be a manual for ‘How to stay married as your children go through puberty’. I swear my husband and I have never had this many fights in our lives together. Don’t be so hard on him! Don’t baby him! He’s my baby! He’s a grown boy!

Well, puberty or not. He is my baby. Always. My giant-almost-taller-than-me-hormonal-smelling-kind-hearted-gentle-sweet-full-of-attitude loving baby boy.

Maybe that’s all we need to know – that they’re our babies no matter what and we’ll get through. With the help of a whole lot of scented candles.

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