I am now officially the mother of a teenager. I seriously never thought parenthood out this far, which is entirely a good thing, of course, because anyone who plots the teen years prior to conception is 98% unlikely to want to have procreative sex. That's my own random freakonomic statistic but inherent within this grossly excessive percentage is no small measure of validity, I suspect.
It's why we don't give birth to teenagers right out of the garden gate. They'd begin mumbling and bitching about the uncomfortable journey and the myriad other indignities. Like how the air was cold and the light was so bright upon birth. And that they were left naked for so long. And how the doctor pinched and spanked them. And then how everyone wanted to touch their head and hold their pinky and count their toes and check out their private bits. Ewwwwhhh. And then how they got this boob shoved in their mouth.
I was the quintessential poster child for teenage attitude. I well remember the days when I would walk on the other side of the street from my mother on the way home from a movie, lest anyone dared think we were together. And I recall the incoherent, mumble language, which I would utter if and when I felt like it but not necessarily correlative to when I was asked a question. And of course, I remember how out of touch and stoneage my parents were about everything. Their sole raison d'etre on the planet was to embarrass me.
And this acute cellular memory is why I take great pains to ensure I pay the embarrassment forward. Truth be told, I consider it to be part of the parental reward system. Fear of embarrassment is the best behavior modification I know. It's amazing how quickly a facial expression can turn from bland to horrified, just at the mere mention of threatening to chaperone the school dance and do disco moves on the edge of the dance floor. That's nothing, however, compared to the humiliating scenarios I scheme in hopes of one day pulling a Hi-Jinks Nick TV parental prank. That is my loftiest goal as mother.
It's amazing how fast 13 years can morph by though, when you're otherwise preoccupied. I look at baby pictures and I can't even piece together the genetic links between the little boy I used to bath in the kitchen sink and the hulking, gangly, 5 ft. 11 inch teenager, who alternates between being a sloth (sleeping in, farming on Facebook and Wii games are his sloth activities of choice); being a narcissist (he likes to admire his handsome mug in the bathroom mirror); and being a food thief (the constant raids of the fridge and pantry have begun).
I don't dare complain - he's smart, multi-talented, wise beyond his years, exceptionally good with younger kids, polite to adults other than those he lives with, an Order of the Arrow, an Eagle Scout candidate, and he earns straight As in school. Priceless, right?
Well yeah, I suppose, as long as I don't add up the tangibles that come with his winsome personality. Like the cello that needs to be purchased this year (minimum cost for a student-grade cello - $2000), or the braces he's getting this week ($5000), or the annual cell phone and clothing budget ($1500) or the host of other expenses (school travel, summer camps, sports registration, etc.). Not to mention the upcoming biggies. Like the car (which is the only image accessory I refuse to purchase, let it be noted for the record). And university tuition. He has his sights aimed high - as in Ivy League heights. Don't dare ask him what he plans to study at said Ivy League schools though. That will only elicit a glare, a mumble and a healthy dose of that teenage indignation, unless, of course, you happen to be a stranger, in which case you will be treated to a politely-audible if somewhat vague response.
I try to look at the bright side of it all. I consider that I'm learning a new language and that it's my turn to be out of touch and stoneage.
I guess that makes me officially grown up now, more's the pity. But it still won't stop me from disco dancing on the fringe. It's a tough job being a shameless mother, but someone's gotta do it.