When the 1957 film was released "I Was a Teenage Werewolf," it became a blockbuster hit, follow by many copycat versions. I'm convinced that it's popularity was more than the "avant-garde" innovation of using a teenager as the protagonist in a horror movie. It struck a chord of truth. Every teenager goes through dramatic transformations and engages in irrational and often incomprehensible behavior. You learn to approach them with caution -- "what kind of creature will she be today...?" Going through adolescence is, in fact, a process of learning how to tame one's inner werewolf. For the supervising parents it's an exercise in patience, persistence, and deciding when to fight and when to flee.
Our household has seen its share of runaways, hysteria, black depression, attack, withdrawal, and "I hate you!" From what I can tell, in talking to other parents and anxiously browsing reading material, our experience has been about average. The nice thing about overseeing this process the fourth time around is that we've seen how werewolves escape relatively unscathed, even enhanced, when they emerge from their horror-film selves (unlike poor Michael Landon's character in the movie). We've gotten a little bit better at taking the rants and rages in stride, understanding that we're only observing the werewolf, not our darling daughter or son. And we allow ourselves to enjoy with less trepidation the wonderful moments of darling daughter in between monstrous transformations.
Those "I hate you's" can be pretty tough. But they run their course as well, and shouldn't be taken to heart. Hate and love run fairly close to each other in the circle of emotional response. And learning to navigate those feelings is part of the werewolf challenge. A great moment came recently from T., further confirming the happy disappearance of the monster who appears less and less. A few hours after a little head to head combat between the two of us, T. returned from a school event looking relaxed and happy. "I hate it when you're right," she said with a wry smile.
I'll tuck that one away for a rainy day.
(** disclaimer on behalf of T. -- this entry draws upon recollections of 10 years and four teens. T.'s werewolf is, for the most part, a creature of the past!)