That’s what my parents used to yell when a crash would come from the kitchen. You may be hearing such crashes frequently if there’s someone in your house between the ages of 11 and 16. Around this age teens seem to be all elbows and shoulders and really big feet. They knock over glasses at the table, careen off the walls, and trip over shadows on the floor. Parents cry out in despair, “Why must you be so clumsy?!” And the teens themselves writhe in embarrassment.
The good news is that it’s a temporary condition with a sound physiological reason. (Then again, isn’t that true of most of adolescence?) The same growth spurts that keep you buying new clothes and shoes every six months (and groceries every other day) are responsible for the clumsiness.
When teens hit a growth spurt, it begins in their hands and feet. The arms and legs soon follow, and then the torso stretches. This is a very good thing: if the middle section grew first, their centers of gravity would be too high for the size of their feet, and – splat! Face plant!
The difficult part is that they can grow as much as half an inch in 24 hours, so they can literally wake up with new hands and feet. Want to know how difficult that makes things? Try spending tomorrow in oversized gloves and shoes, and you’ll get the picture. They crash into things because they do not know where their bodies end anymore.
This all happens at a terribly self-conscious age, making it all the more mortifying for your teen. Each year I survey my class: “Anybody finding you can’t clear a doorway without smashing your shoulder into the frame?” Hands go up. “How about bashing your hip on tabletops and furniture? Falling down unexpectedly?” This will lead to cries of “Yes! That happens to me ALL the time!” – and stories – “Last night I fell UP the stairs!” When I explain the physiological reason for this, there is great relief, followed invariably by pleading: “Would you PLEASE tell my parents this? They just think I’m clumsy!”
My advice: put away the valuables just like you did when they were toddlers. In a few years they’ll get used to their new bodies, and you can return Aunt Bertha’s Swarovski swan to its place of honor.