Years ago, my friends with older kids used to laugh cynically when I would tell them how hard it was having little kids. When they’re little, you are responsible for the complete care and well-being of your children. This is tough. But it’s much harder when they’re older and you’re no longer the one who is responsible for their care and wel-lbeing.

They are.

Looking at the tsunami of clothing on the floor of my children’s rooms, the food choices they make, and the hours they sleep, and don’t sleep, it’s almost like I had no effect on them the first x-teen years of their lives. It’s as though they’d been raised by wolves and became a subspecies of the human race. The Walking Dead had nothing on the teenage zombies in our house. At first I tried to fight it. I yelled at them to clean up, threatened them with loss of data streaming, and even went so far as to delete our Netflix account. But eventually I figured out there was a smarter way to survive this stage of my children’s lives. So, in the interest of science and sanity, I give you:

Tracy’s top 10 Ways to survive your kids’ tween and teenage years

10. Get a suit of armor. Just kidding. Your kids are going to think you’re horribly uncool no matter what you wear.

9. Learn text shorthand. This is so you can translate what your kids are texting to you. But don’t use shorthand when YOU text your kids. They will LOL (Laugh Out Loud) and then they will tell their BFF (Best Friend Forever) that you are TSL (Totally So Lame).

8. Get really good headphones. This is so you can drown out the sound of their awful heavy metal rap house music with some groovin’ Michael Bolton.

7. Don’t dance to “Despacito” in front of the kids. This does not make you look cool to them. This is horrifically embarrassing to them and makes you look like you’re having a seizure.

6. Tell them if they clean their rooms all year you will get them a llama. Kids like llamas because they spit. And when the year is up, you can just tell them the pet store is all out of llamas.

5. Get stock in pizza. Any pizza. Your kids will eat pizza, their friends will eat pizza and you can invest the money you make so you have more money to buy more pizza.

4. Make out with your husband in front of the kids. It will gross them out so much they will avoid members of the opposite sex until they are 30.

3. Get a really junky car. You won’t feel as bad when the kids get their license and forget to open the garage door before they back out of the garage.

2. Get new curtains and then use them to make all the dresses your daughter will need for her friends’ Sweet Sixteens in high school. Why not? It worked for the Sound of Music. Plus, after that, they will be grateful for any dress you actually buy them from the store.

1. Remember how sweet they were when they were babies. It will help you be more forgiving when they back into the garage door.

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