Like the teenagers we struggle to raise, parents are never satisfied.
We complain because they ignore us, disconnect from us, roll their eyes when we speak, act like we were born in the Stone Ages and are generally as about as pleasant to hang around as a bag full of angry badgers. And during those dark days of rebellion and irritability, when those same temperamental teenagers act as if they’d rather make-out with a dung beetle than walk within a 100 feet of their parents – never mind the fact that they have no job and need us to buy their Hollister hoodies and acne face wash – we reminisce about those “sweet days,” when they were clingy and idolized us.
‘Course they drove us nuts then, too, but at least they were cute about it.
They don’t like us, and, let’s be honest, we don’t always like them.
Oh, we love ‘em, but still … And then something weird happens – they emerge from their rooms one evening after dinner, curl up on the couch and politely ask, “So, can we find something to watch together?”
We do that confused head shake – like a dog watching a magic trick – and ask with the utmost sincerity, “I’m sorry, but who are you and what have you done with my child?”
Unless it’s a Invasion of the Body Snatchers scenario where your teenager’s been replaced by a creature that’s nice on the outside but plans on eating your face while you sleep, chances are it’s just another of their erratic emotional stages, most likely designed to make us feel guilty for considering selling them on EBay if they throw one more temper tantrum.
I can’t help it. I worry when The Diva actually wants to spend time with us. Then I feel terrible for wondering, “What’s she after.” We’re trained as parents to assume the worst; that our teenagers are plotting something – ‘cause they usually are. Then we feel stupid for not figuring it out ahead of time.
They really are smarter than we are … or at least more motivated.
The Diva, for one reason or another, has returned to us. The sullen, moody child that once bit my head off for asking how her day was (like I was supposed to know she’d been called a nasty name by her now-forever-and-ever former best friend) has once again become the funny, silly, talkative and insightful child that I once imagined arguing passionately in front of the U.S. Supreme Court or becoming a famous author of novels that get chosen for Oprah Book Club.
See, I’m not totally cynical.
I just didn’t figure THAT Diva would re-emerge until she was married and had kids of her own, thus coming home to apologize to being so difficult for all those years.
But by God, Christmas has come early. Maybe it was the new cell phone we bought her. The thing makes me tired just flipping through the instruction manual and looks like a remote control for a space shuttle, but it’s made The Diva happy – truly and sincerely happy.
Oh, she thanked us – 33 times a day for three weeks – but that magic should’ve worn out by now. Yet there she was, sitting on the couch watching Law and Order: SVU (not exactly family entertainment, but we’ll take what we can get) and telling us about her day.
On second thought, maybe parents can be satisfied … for as long as it lasts.
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brett Buckner is an award-winning freelance newspaper/magazine writer who was raised in Albany.