COLUMN: Teenagers…’nuff said’

After I gave birth to my son, the nurses were wonderful. They gave me some great advice.

By Tammy DeMel

Most of what they told me related to the health of my little man, but they also offered useful tips, such as covering his private area when I changed him so that I didn’t get a face full of pee. Once we were home, friends and family came to visit and shared their own words of wisdom. And while I appreciated all of it, looking back I have to say that I’m also a little ticked off.

With all of their great advice and know-how, why didn’t anyone tell me that the same sweet, defenseless little cherub, that dimple-faced, cutie who hypnotized me with his yummy baby-smell, would turn into a smelly, know-it-all, stubborn teenager.

I admit, my son is generally a good kid. He gets good grades and is basically on the right track. So I’m not talking Linda Blair from the Exorcist kind of problems here. I’m not even talking about serious teenage issues.

But why do I have to endure a cacophony of eye-rolls and exasperated sighs – along with his claims that he’s “the only one in the entire house that does anything around here” – just to get him to take out the trash? It’s not like I’ve interrupted him in the middle of conducting life-saving surgery.

And can you tell me why his room always smells like unwashed feet? And, for that matter, why do his feet smell like unwashed feet even right after he takes a shower? And why is he taking so many showers anyway? (Okay, maybe I don’t want to know the answer to that one.)

Let’s face it, for as long as there have been teenagers, there have been parents who obviously don’t know anything. Clearly, teenagers are superior and we parents should just pack it in. But if they would just give us a chance, I think they would find that we actually have a few useful years left. We may even know a thing or two. Yet even when we prove our worth, they seem surprised.

The other day, when my son was having a dilemma about a social situation, I offered a possible solution one that he liked. He was flabbergasted and actually said that it was “brilliant.” And then the next words out of his mouth were: “How long have you been holding on to that gem? Why didn’t you say anything before?” But did he take my advice? Of course not, but the momentary acknowledgement that I could be helpful was nice.

Then there’s the little lies about stupid things and the stubbornness. A couple of weeks ago I went to the “approved” store and bought an “approved” style of jeans, which he said he needed. A few days later, we were in the car and I asked him if those were the new jeans he was wearing.

Him: “Yup”
Me: “Really? They don’t look like the new jeans.”
Him: “JEEZ (not the actual word he used) MOM…YES, THESE ARE THE NEW JEANS!”
Me: “Really, because I saw the new jeans still in the bag in your room before we left.”
Him: “Oh”
Me: “Why did you lie about that?”
Him: “I didn’t lie, I thought these were the new ones.”

Seriously? Is that the best that this honors student could come up with?

The really infuriating thing about all of this is something a friend wrote in response to my Facebook post. I wrote: Is there a light at the end of the teenage tunnel? In response, she assured me that there was and added: “My daughter is in college and it’s just my son at home. Believe me, you’ll miss the dirty clothes and all the other stuff when they leave, enjoy it all now.”

With all due respect, I’m not sure if I can enjoy it, maybe I can endure it. But I know she’s right, because there are many times (mostly when he’s sleeping and his eyes and mouth are both closed), when I look at him and still see that sweet dimple-faced little boy and I fall in love all over again.

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