He’s a touch taller than me these days, a fact I steadfastly refuse to acknowledge in the hopes he won’t notice.

Not that I fear he’ll suddenly be imbued with a misbegotten sense of authority, but rather that he will always be the littlest peanut.

Although these days, he’s quite the salty peanut. Eye rolls, sighs and grumples — the hallmarks of teen-dom known to parents around the globe — are expected, anticipated and summarily ignored.

Julia Dendinger MUG

Julia M. Dendinger

Assistant Editor

At 14, my youngest son is in the throes of adolescence and let me tell you, it’s challenging. I’m sure it’s hard on him, too, but guys, I’m not sure how I’m going to get through this.

His older brother is on the cusp of 17 and being a high school senior, which is an existential crisis for another time, but I don’t remember it being like this.

I mean, yeah, there were smells, rampant hormones and emotions were ... well emotional. But the bigger one seemed easier. Or maybe it was just long enough ago that it’s lost in the haze of my middle age.

My older, much-taller-than-me son just seems much more chill compared to his younger counterpart. I know, I know, all kids are different, their own personalities, blah, blah, blah ... but sometimes I think he does it out of spite.

Not like actual spite though. More like teenage ennui. Everything is just too much, too hard, too boring, too hot, too windy, too loud — too something.

Granted, that’s me on any given Saturday afternoon, but in my defense, I try to limit the listlessness to once a week.

Thanks to puberty and all the accompanying changes, his boy body now exudes odors — eye watering, painful odors.

The concept of daily showers seems to be lost on both my sons, but at least the older one fights it less. He futzes and drags his feet, but eventually makes it in without too much harassment.

There may be some of you reading this that recall my two young men went through this weird phase where they’d wet their hair down but wouldn’t wash it. To determine if they were actually clean, I was reduced to smelling my childrens’ heads post shower. Yeah, that wasn’t weird at all.

They’ve embraced the shampooing and washing regimen polite society has deemed necessary, once they’ve been browbeaten into showering that is.

For much of their childhood, their haircuts were pretty much the same style — little-boy short. As they’ve gotten older — I hesitate to use the word matured — they’ve become more aware of their appearances and developed the desire to have input.

My oldest still opts for a fairly short do, although recently some very whispy but curly sideburns have made an appearance. I’m not sure that’s a hairstyle per se, but ... rock on little dude.

His brother, on the other hand, tends to go rather Age of Aquarius with his coif. I think he last had it cut some time in March. It’s down past his ears, over his eyes and full on touching his collar. The 1950s would be so disappointed.

It’s thick and wavy and just a hot mess. While he didn’t inherit his dense follicles from me, he did pick up my hair twirling tendency.

While I twiddle and twirl a lock or two on the side, he has decided to play with the hair dead center on his forehead.

Combine unconscious hair twirling with 14-year-old gross hands and you get, well more grossness. Chunks of hair that have been matted and twisted into the resemblance of horns. Which is in keeping with my youngest from time to time.

These hairy horrors happen all too quickly, so I’m the nagging mother who shoos him into the shower. When he emerges, he’s usually still drippy and wet, hair plastered to his skull.

Then I wait — watching as it dries and his dark-blond locks lift and curl off his head, like some Medusa creature of old. He bobs his head from side to side, not knowing I am watching, his hair bouncing and flopping.

I call him Fluffy.

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