Only in America

NOTHING IS QUITE as exasperating as learning to say “This is Africa” when you first arrive and things are moving along at a glacial pace, or not at all. And yet, nothing is quite as endearing as thinking back to the times you said “This is Africa” while you lived there when ... 


Ode to Teenagers

I KNOW FOR A FACT that you are only reading this because you saw the title and thought: She must have gone off her rocker. Singing an ode to teenagers is akin to praising the U.S. Congress for having accomplished something. Or liking the moles tunneling under your lawn. Or being particularly fond of bee stings. And it’s true. Teenagers are possibly the biggest catastrophe wrought upon us parents by nature. They are disagreeable, have mood swings defying any logic, and their rooms – well, we don’t know for sure, because we’ve stopped entering them for fear of alien forms of life attacking us from the morass of stuff littered around them. Not that this is purely a modern problem. Plato – or was it Socrates – bitterly complained about the youth of his day, calling them lazy, disrespectful, and reckless. Even then they almost certainly grew their hair in unconventional ways and tied their togas in a sloppy fashion. I’m sure there was the equivalent of the iPhone back then, diverting a teenager’s attention when she was supposed to answer her mother. And there’s no doubt that many a brand-new chariot was wrecked when the son took it out for a spin and did precisely what the father told him not to do.  Many, many parenting articles have been written about teenagers, listing their countless shortcomings and offering advice on how to survive (for both parties) the teenage years. But has anyone ever found anything praiseworthy about them? I realize I might be a pioneer in that particular field of study when I say you have to give credit where credit is due. Or perhaps I just like to swim against the tide. But I thought an article in praise of teenagers is in order. In fact, I thought up this article over a year ago and have made several attempts to publish it. But invariably I was stalled by certain events. Such as Zax forgetting to pack his hockey stuff in the morning and then blaming me for not getting it to him at the most convenient time and place. Or Impatience screaming at me that I was the worst parent ever for not getting her a better calculator so that she could enter mixed fractions without having to worry about how to convert them. Or Jabulani swearing to me all day that there was absolutely nothing more he could possibly do to prepare for his math exam tomorrow and that he was therefore justified in playing xBox all day, and then sending me an urgent text message from school the next morning to please bring his calculator and ruler which he’d forgotten to pack. Though on that instance my murderous thoughts all the way to school were instantly mollified when he gave me a big smile and even bigger hug in front of all 300 high school students as a thank you. So anyway, here are my =&0=&   

  1. If they have a question, they will Google it instead of asking tiresome “why” questions.
  2. They save you money on babysitting. Even though you might have to have the house steam-cleaned and disinfected