My daughter had just finished her freshman year of college. The last two years at home had been trying ones to say the least. The combined intelligence level of her father and I plummeted to new lows from which we’re just beginning recover. I’m sure that every parent who’s raised teenagers can identify with the low-IQ syndrome. Dealing with teenagers as they assert their independence is never fun.
In addition to suffering from diminished intellectual abilities, we’ve also been subjected to “mushroom syndrome.” If you haven’t had the joy of navigating the teen years yet, I’ll define it for you.
What is Mushroom Syndrome?
Mushrooms, as you probably know, grow best in the dark with lots of fertilizer. I have to admit that I thought my husband had come up with something witty until I googled the term and found that it’s actually defined in the Urban Dictionary as a syndrome where you’re fed bullshit and kept in the dark.
So now you understand what it means to be a mushroom. Trust me – it’s a more common syndrome than you might think. In fact, if you’ve raised kids then you’ve probably already experienced it. If your kids aren’t teens yet…well, you’re in for a treat.
But how will you know if you’re being treated like a mushroom? After all, you raised your child to be truthful. You want them to become independent young adults. You’ve worked hard to foster a good relationship and keep the lines of communication open. You’ve done everything the parenting books say you should do. How will you know if you’ve become a mushroom in the eyes of your child?
While it’s probably more of a vague feeling that there is more than meets the eye, there is one key symptom to watch out for.
You’re a mushroom if you get vague answers to your questions
Conversations with your teen tend to go something like this:
Parent: “How are things at school? Is your calculus grade improving?”
Child: “It’s fine.”
Parent: “Who all is supposed to be at the party? And what time will it be over?”
Child: “Just a friends. I don’t remember exactly who was invited.”
Parent: “And what time will the party be over?”
Child: Sighing, “Late. I’ll let you know.”
Parent: “How are things with you?
Child: “They’re fine! Can’t you just leave me alone?”
Parent: “When are you going to get the trash carried out?”
Child: Rolls eyes and doesn’t answer.
I could go on, but I think you’ve got the picture. You always have this nagging feeling that there’s more going on than you’re being made aware of and that there are details and events that you’re purposely not privy to. Your requests for information is met with resistance, sighs, eye rolling, and the kind of sidestepping usually reserved for seasoned politicians. You know darn good and well you’re not getting the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
You won’t be a mushroom forever
The good news is that eventually your child will mature and won’t be so prickly when you initiate a conversation. It won’t happen overnight, but gradually you’ll begin to see signs of maturity. It’s a slow process though so just be aware that your patience will be tested.
We began to see the signs of maturity the summer my daughter returned home and had her wisdom teeth removed. It was nice to have her at home and frankly, I enjoyed waiting on her, taking care of her, and spoiling her. It had been too long since she’d allowed me to do these things for her. I saw the sweet child I remembered.
Adolescence is a difficult time for everyone – the child going through it and for their parents. Transitioning from a child to an adult requires a separation from mommy and daddy and learning to be independent. As parents, we’d like to think that our child will always need us but the truth is that if we’ve done our job correctly, they won’t need us forever. It’s a hard pill to swallow but it’s necessary if we want to launch independent adults into the world.
We’re feeling very certain that our daughter will manage to successfully launch from our nest. She’s got an independent streak a mile wide – which I admire and wholeheartedly approve of. We also can tell that our days of suffering from mushroom syndrome are finally ending. And for right now, I enjoy the feeling of still being needed from time to time.
She didn’t enjoy the recuperation from her wisdom teeth, but I loved it. It may have been one of the last times I’ll have heard my daughter call me mommy (she usually calls me Mom when she’s in independent mode) and let me tuck her into her bed. I guess feeling crummy brings the child out in all of us. I enjoy the feeling of being needed while it lasted…..and I’ll enjoy those times if they come again because I know they will come less frequently.
And that’s ok. It’s the way I raised her.