An Open Letter to Teens

Dear Teens:

You don’t know shit.

Oh, I know, I know.  You think you know everything. I am (not so) sorry to be the one to tell you that, in fact, as I said, you don’t know shit.

Also, no one in this world owes you anything.  Did you get that? NOT. ONE. THING. If you want things, buy them.  That requires money, which requires a job, which generally requires some sort of skill set, along with basic personal hygiene.  Some of you seem to be struggling with this.

It’s all pretty basic.  Take a bath.  Brush your teeth.  Make eye contact when people talk to you.  And, God help us all, smile.  

Here is another pointer for you–learn English.  Like, for real.  I’m not trying to be mean, but you kind of sound like morons.  You can’t spell, you can’t speak, and to be frank, you’re making us look bad in front of the whole world.  Try not to add “uh” to the end of every word, especially if you are doing so in a particularly annoying, whiny voice.  Examples: stop-uh, don’t-uh, look-uh, what-uh. (For those of you struggling to understand, just draw those words out.  Come on now, draw them out niiiiiicccceeee and loooooonnnggg and force the sound through your nose and then tack that “uh” at the end. Got it?)

Lastly, get over yourselves.  Look around.  This may come as a shock to you, but there are other people in the world besides yourselves. Who knew, right? Take a moment to realize that your words and actions might have some effect on someone other than you.

I give you these words in love, because I don’t want to see you make the same mistakes I made as a selfish, stupid teenager.  I want you to realize that there are certain decisions you only get one chance to make. I want you to look around an appreciate the value of the other people in your life.  Some day they might not be there.  And they love you.

We all love you.

P.S. You still don’t know shit, though.

P.P.S. The duck face and the kissy face in every picture look absolutely ridiculous.  Really.  I mean, people are making fun of your behind your back.  It’s that bad.  Stop.  Please.


Driven to Insanity

My son is 16 years old.

For those of you who do not have children, this number may mean nothing to you.  It may not strike fear into your heart.  It may not ignite inside your soul the devastating fear, the agonizing terror that lives in the heart of every parent.

My son is nearly ready to get his driver’s license.

I stalled the inevitable by making the boy take Driver’s Education.  That gets you a break of approximately $0.00000004 on insurance.  (Incidentally, I think it is crap that insurance is more for a boy than for a girl.  So much for equality, right?) However, in spite of my many attempts to pretend that my children are still small, the boy is nearly ready to get his driver’s license.

He will be able, according to the law of our great state, to operate a motor vehicle on his own.

(Who made these laws? Someone without children, I guarantee.)

I consider myself a very adaptable person.  In fact, it is one of my strong suits.  I’m not one of these people who get bogged down by the fear of change.  I laugh at those people.  Ha!  But someone I find myself ill prepared for my son to drive.  It isn’t just him–all of his buddies are also driving.  A few of them are older than my son and have already received their operators license.  A couple of them drive themselves to school every day. I still visualize these kids as the same ones who couldn’t tie their shoes without assistance, and they are out on the same roads as you and me, with no adult supervision, in vehicles capable of many thousands of dollars of personal property damage.

God help us.

The worst part of it all is that I’m not sure if I’m upset because my son is 16 years old and driving (and he is a good driver, very cautious and law-abiding) or if I’m upset because this is just another reminder of my own impending geezer-hood.

I am not ready for this.  I myself identify as a cool young person.  I listen to cool music and drive too fast (in a minivan) and have tattoos and all of the other stuff that makes people cool.  But how can I be a cool young person when a human being that I grew inside of my own body is now old enough to operate a motor vehicle?

Okay, I’ll tell you the truth.  I’ve been sly about it and pretended like it was about so many things that it wasn’t.  It isn’t really about my son.  It isn’t about him driving.

It’s about the fact that I’ll be 40 in a couple of days.

You read that right.  I will be forty years old.  Conceivably half way through my whole entire life.  If I’m lucky, that is.

I cannot stand to hear about people having midlife crises, especially men with the sports cars and the blonde mistresses and such.  But honestly, I have to seriously ask myself if I’m not in the throes of a midlife crisis right now.  Why else would all of this be hitting me so hard?  What other explanation is there that the contemplation of my life and the life of my son and his friends should cause me such distress?

I’m sure the wine has nothing to do with it.

Regardless, my son is sixteen years old, and getting ready to get his license.  No matter how much I piss and moan (and drink), time just keeps on slipping by.  I thought I had lots of time.  I used to complain about how slowly time passed.

I’m sorry, okay? I’m sorry.  I didn’t know.  I take it back.  Just please, please slow down a little.  They can drive now, so let’s just take a breath.  Let’s take a minute to get our bearings.

Let’s realize how precious our time is, and how much we take it for granted, okay? I swear, we’ll do better from here on out.



The Thin Line

When you have little baby children, you think that things are very difficult.  You have to feed them, change them, and suck the boogers out of their noses with those little bulb things.  They cry and vomit and don’t sleep.  Life seems like one endless sucking maw of baby bodily fluids.  Oh, when will they grow up?

Then they become toddlers.  I’m far too tired this evening to recount the joys and horrors of raising toddlers.

Then they kind of go through a cool phase.  They get to be around, oh, seven or so, and from then up until around ten or eleven, or even twelve if you’re lucky, you get to interact with what appears to be an actual human being, in miniature form.  You do fun things together and talk about everything.  You are buddies.  You are best friends.  Furthermore, you are the coolest parent in the world.

Then they become teenagers.

Jack Sparrow Screaming






Suddenly, you find yourself looking back wistfully on those diaper changing days.  Needs of the body are easily met, but meeting the needs of the teenage mind is a problem that is unlikely to ever be solved.

My son is fifteen years old.  I know the child I gave birth to is in there somewhere, but some days I wonder if that little boy hasn’t been replaced by some alien from Planet Attitude.

Teenagers know everything. I mean, when did I miss the class in middle school that taught literally every thing about every topic and every possible scenario in the history of mankind?  Because teenagers certainly seem to know it.  They can argue about anything. They can argue with you if you tell them it’s raining outside.

Now I am starting to run into the real difficulties of raising teenagers.  Sure they are obnoxious and know-it-all and they never listen and the eye rolling thing, oh LORD don’t get me started on the eye rolling thing, and they are so dramatic that they could give acting lessons to soap opera stars, and they think their lives are just so tragic and no one understands them and their parents are totally lame and old and —–


Sorry, I got carried away there.

My point, in case you forgot, was that raising a teenager has to be the most difficult parenting stage, hands down. The issue that I have been struggling with lately is privacy.

I’m an advocate for privacy.  I love my own.  I want my son to be able to have his space and set his boundaries and know that no one is messing in his personal business.  I can truly see it from that point of view.  It’s part of treating our children like adults.


Where is that line?  I want my son to be responsible and be able to have his personal space, but I cannot allow myself to forget that this is a fifteen year old boy that I am talking about! His decision-making capability at this stage is right on par with that of a hamster, or maybe a really smart potato.  I’m not singling him out!  I’ve known his friends since they started kindergarten, and they are all the same.  Remember when I said I thought maybe they had been abducted by aliens from planet attitude?  Actually, I think they have been abducted by Hormones, and the Hormones don’t care about consequences or mistakes or grades or anything like the future.  The Hormones care about one basic topic–sex–with many sub-topics, such as jokes, tv, games, videos, movies, all related to the main topic, which was, in case you forgot, sex.

So, what do you do?  Do you read all the texts?  Do you stalk the email and the Facebook pages? Do you snoop in drawers? Do you hire private detectives to track your child’s every move? (Just kidding.) ((Sort of.))

Help me, dear readers.  How far is too far?  My job is to be his parent, and I am going to push into those boundaries all the time, much to my son’s distress.  At what point do I officially become a stalker?

I’m all ears.




Teenage Nightmare

Contrary to popular belief, it hasn’t been all that long since I was a teenager.  I do actually still remember some of the details, though admittedly they are becoming fuzzier as time goes by.  There is also the possibility that I am just repressing the memories of that (not so) glorious time, and now that my own son is rapidly approaching that age, I begin to see why.

For one thing, the actual age bracket that constitutes a “teenager” seems to have stretched a little in the last twenty years or so.  I personally remember being a pre-teen around 13 or 14, and then a teenager.  Now there are tweens, which I think must be 10 and 11-year-olds, then apparently they jump from tweendom right into full adolescent idiocy. 

I speak as one who is attempting to parent one of these so-called tweens.  He is only 11.  Now, I have a sneaking feeling that I’m luckier than some, because my son is homeschooled, and therefore isn’t under quite as much pressure as his peers.  He still plays and laughs, and he’s not too embarrassed by me (unless we’re in public, or his friends are here, or the blinds are open, or it’s day time.) 

But there are some alarming warning signs.  For instance, he suddenly cares about his clothes.  Again, I am very thankful I don’t have to deal with a girl, because there would be tears.  Naked people in public disturb me, and when they are children, especially so.  I mean, do moms actually see that their daughter’s ass cheeks are out? Or their boobs?  Do they know that Tammy Faye is shocked by the amount of makeup these little girls are wearing?  As the mother of a (tween? pre-teen?) boy, my son is completely covered.  The bad news is that he completely covered by the ugliest clothes in the history of the universe. 

In the past, I’ve talked about how my ideas as a younger person were, in a word, stupid.  This is a good example.  I’ve always said when I had kids, I wasn’t going to get all wrapped up in clothes and hair, and that I would let them express themselves, as long as they weren’t naked.  

Crow tastes like shit, did anyone ever tell you?

Now my oldest is testing this to the limit.  I think his goal in life is to find clothing that bothers me on every level.  He has an uncanny ability to find the most hideous shoes known to man!  He goes in the shoe store and zooms right past reasonably attractive footwear, or at least ones that don’t trigger my gag reflex, and pops up with something that looks like it was dug up in a toxic waste dump.  And I, the hater of hypocrites, just smile and nod and pull out the ol’ checkbook.  His tee-shirts are okay, and mostly he prefers jeans, but the older he gets, the bigger he wants his jeans.  Why is that?  Eventually, I’ll be able to save money on the whole family–we’ll just all hop in my son’s jeans and set out together.  We will be able to use them as tent when we camp. 

Oh, and hats.  Don’t get me started on hats.  Even my younger, liberal, idiotic self always hated to see a guy with his hat on backward.  I didn’t get it.  I still don’t.  I happen to think my son is a handsome young man with lovely eyes and a great smile–then he puts that damn backwards hat on, and he might as well put a bag over his head.  I try not to say anything, because I absolutely believe that teenagers do what they do for the shock value, but sometimes, with the hat, I can’t help myself.  I’ll lean over to him and sort of whisper, like it’s a secret, “Hey! Psst! Your hat’s on backwards!”  He isn’t amused.

Just lately I’ve finally seen the surfacing of some of that teenage attitude.  There’s a lot of heavy sighs–once I was forced to ask him if he was having an asthma attack.  He hasn’t quite worked up the nerve to roll his eyes in front of me, but I know he’s tempted, and I figure when my back is turned, he rolls those big ol’ brown eyes just about right out of his head.  He’s getting this thing where he has to have the last word, and sometimes he goes off mumbling.  In other words, he’s pushing a little farther every day.

Some of you out there raising actual teenagers are probably rolling your eyes, too.  I know I “ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”  Some of my friends have girls the same age as my son, and they are already wearing makeup, shaving their legs, and dear God, they have boobs already!  What is that about? 

And some of them are so mean.  They are already getting into that catty, nasty, girl crap that I always hated, but I don’t remember dealing with it quite this early.  It alarms me.  These aren’t just girls who don’t have good role models or whatever–these are girls who I know have solid homes and stable family lives, but it’s almost like they have split personalities.  It makes me wonder about my own son, and how he acts when he isn’t with me. 

I guess my biggest fear is my own ability to deal with this whole teenager mess.  I’m a hormonal basket case myself–can the house really hold two of us?  I’ve never been world-renowned for my patience, even when I had hormones, so now I’m doubly dangerous.  I don’t think I can take door slamming and “I hate you’s” and all of the rest of the teenage drama.  What about when he starts dating, and, God help me, driving?  There aren’t enough pills in the world. 

I think I’ve freaked myself out a little.  Maybe I’d better quit while I’m ahead.  I know what will calm me down–Ian’s at soccer practice, so I’ll sneak outside and bury some hats.

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