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.

teenagers on sofa

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 Top 20 Reasons to Appreciate Teenagers:

  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 upon your return.
  3. They can show you how the DVR player works, which you haven’t used in months because you can’t figure out how to fast forward (also because you can no longer decipher the buttons on the remote).
  4. They refrain from calling “Mommy, I am finished” when they are, well, finished with their business and expect someone to come wipe.
  5. You can have a conversation with them (if they are, in fact, talking to you at the moment) about topics a bit more demanding than Littlest Pet Shop or Thomas the Tank Engine.
  6. You can tell them dirty jokes without having to explain.
  7. You don’t have to listen to their jokes more than once.
  8. You don’t have to let them win when playing a game of pickup basketball and you know they’re not letting you win either.
  9. They sleep through the night (and most of the day).
  10. You actually want them on your team when playing 30 Seconds or Trivial Pursuit.
  11. Instead of having to hide stuff in high places, they can help you reach stuff you’ve put in high places.
  12. You no longer have to find any Lego pieces. You just sometimes have to find them, and there is a perfect iPhone app for that.
  13. They won’t cling to your leg while you’re trying to cook. They will just stop by the kitchen to ask you what’s for dinner and then disappear again.
  14. You don’t have to attend birthday parties with them. Actually, they do not want to be seen with you at all.
  15. They don’t usually fling themselves onto the floor of the grocery store and scream at the top of their lungs
  16. They don’t point to other people and loudly say “Look, that man is bald!”. On the contrary, they will shush you when you as much as laugh in public and chastise you for being so embarrassing.
  17. Quiet time in their room (with the curtains drawn) is what they do best.
  18. You do not have to convince them to take a shower. They may just never come out of the shower.
  19. If you have boys, you generally save a few years worth of haircut expenses.
  20. If it wasn’t for them, you’d never have gotten onto Facebook. Even though your teens are no longer on Facebook because it is so yesterday.

Have I forgotten anything? What positives can you find about your teenager? Surely there must be one…

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