It’s late, you’ve just arrived home from work, you’re tired and hungry. All you want to do is eat dinner and relax. Problem is that you can’t because there is a teenager in your house. You can’t quite remember when they arrived as they have a habit of creeping up on you and blending in to the furniture. It’s only when they start to smell or grumble at you for changing the TV channel that you realise they’re even there.
The teenager is camped in front of the TV, been there since sometime in the afternoon or instantly appearing there when the school bell rings. It’s under a blanket, or more precisely “a rag” since that is what it has now become under the constant use of the teenager. There is something on the TV, something teenagers find fascinating, and that you may have when you were that age but you’re grown up and have to force yourself not to laugh.
Around the teenager are mugs, bit of sweetie wrapper, mobile phones, headphones, bags, makeup, coins, tissue, iPods, half-eaten sandwiches and half drunk bottles of water. It’s the same scene as their bed and it makes you want to cry or push your head through the wall in anger.
You say “hi” and receive a vague grunt or mumble whilst the teenagers eyes never leave the TV screen. The kitchen sink is full of washing up, the carpet is a mess of dog hair, or dirt, or bits of teenager. Never underestimate the ability of the teenager to moult constantly. You’re pretty certain you asked them to do something when they got back, you know, lift a teeny tiny finger to help the house, please? Pretty please? For me, come on, yeah, a favour. No? Well screw you then you dirty malingering waste of space!!! Yeah sure, I’ll bring you a drink and make you a sandwich. How about a cool glass of Getofyourarse and a sandwich of Shutthefuckup and DoasIsay spread!!
Chill, relax, try a different tactic.
But hold on a second, let’s think things through. They may have had a bad day. Could have been rejected by some boy/girl/emo freak or been bullied by a boy/girl/emo freak/teacher or primary school kids. Should you take time to ask how their day was? Yeah, that’s the way to go, be their friend, get them on your side…then they’ll be only too happy to help once you’ve had a good chat and a few laughs.
Tsk, tsk…you fell into the trap. That was just stupid. In one respect teenagers are much smarter than you, and that’s when they sniff a whisp of work . They can keep a conversation turning and evolving because they know you’ve had your eye on that mountainous range of pots n pans in the kitchen during the entire conversation. There’s no way they’re going to strap on a back pack of wash cloths and scale that mountain just because you’ve had a “nice chat” with them.
Just a quick tidy up, no worries, right?
And so what if they’ve made a bit of a mess? It can be tidied up in no time, but best you do it before you change or take a shower tho, and before you have a drink or listen to your messages or emails…oh and you really should tidy it up before you get their dirty clothes in the wash ready for their weekend of fun and adventure – dirt, puke, wine, dirt, make-up, grass stains, puke and sweat.
You can’t relax until it all looks tidy can you? And with two of you it can be done in half the….oh, one of you. Seems the teenager has used it’s ninja powers and stealthed out of the room. Thumping music and games machine explosions can be heard through the ceiling.
You dare to ask them to help. After 10-120 minutes they finally appear, slumped shoulders, sullen expression, grunt-grunt-mumble-mumble, they help you do a quick tidy. Yes, it’s working! You’re on the same team! Oh, well you were…you made the mistake of asking the teenager to do one task. Which they did. And then the thumping music and games machine explosions return to pick at your sanity.
You finish the rest of the tidy-up through clenched teeth, wondering if games machines really do smash into a millions pieces when they hit the road when thrown from the upstairs window? Would that be something to consider? Possibly get a huge power/revenge rush but ultimately it means the teenager simply spends more time in front of the TV or moaning that they’re: “So bored!! There’s like…nothin to do and I’m like…sooo bored….” You tidy up alone.
Equality for all…are you sure that’s right?
We’re told that we’re not supposed to treat teenagers as slaves, they’re people too you know! Everyone in a household is equal and they should all pull their weight. Work together as a team, help each other out, be a real family. That way you can grow together, enjoy each others company and do something to help each other out. When little people reach a certain age they stop being helpless skin tubes and evolve into your helpers, they can make tea or toast, and understand how to run a duster around the place. You wish. Teenagers have the same rights as their elders.
You’re avin a bubble!
Bollocks! I’m all for equality but treating teenagers as equals just takes the michael! They may well go to school/college/the pub/uni and may indeed work hard at their studies, but as far as actual real work goes, there’s no competition. If a teenager stops doing whatever it is they get up to during the day (and let’s face it, we really don’t have a fucking clue do we?) what would happen? Well, not much. Probably some arguments. But their home will still be there. TV will still be there. Internet access will still be there.
If the adults just decided not to bother (a few days playing XBox is just the trick cos work is sooo boring) then the mortgage and bills don’t get paid, strangely the food that magically appears in the cupboards just isn’t there and the 24hr taxi has been towed away. And as for work, unless you’re really lucky to have found a job you enjoy, you’re stuck doing something you wish you had never got into.
You may have some colleagues that you smile at on occasion but it’s nothing compared to the mates at school or uni or the pub. Unless you’re a social outcast then there’s a whole lotta fun to be had during the majority of teenage life.
On the up side. There’s an upside?
I understand teenagers have a hard time of it, the point of being a teenager is to survive being a teenager so you can grow up big and strong and look down on all the new teenager arrivals and laugh at their silly fashion and really stupid hairstyles. Talk about peer pressure! Baaa-aaaa!
Yes, teenagers are gross, slow, clumsy, smelly, self-centred, lazy, smelly, overly sensitive, often moronic, drunken, hormone ridden, porn addicts…(pause for deep breath)…music addicted, spotty, smelly, socially inept, oily, hairy and unhappy with almost everything they lay their eyes on.
Upside, upside, right…okay. There is one. I know there is one. Teenagers do eventually blossom into adults, hopefully with the right moral grounding where they can lead long productive lives and finally become a burden to their own offspring. They eventually grow out of the silly hair styles, and the desire to play loud tinny music through poor quality headphones on the bus tends to wane also. Hmm, but only after the: “My first car, very loud music, pick up sexy chics, gotta get more bass, cruise the village with my mates for no reason at all” phase has ended.
Teenagers, whilst totally pointless, do become fully functioning, sane adults. Well most of them do. You do still see those strange adults that cling pathetically to the fashions worn by teenagers and basically get laughed at. And during their teenagerhood they can make you laugh, not always with them you understand, and often at them, in secret with other adults, but the laughter is there nonetheless.
How do I know all this?
Because, and this may come to a shock to all those below the age of 20, I actually used to be a teenager! Yep. It’s true. Teenagers have this weird gene; The LameAss Discovery Gene, that forces them to think they are the very first generation to discover pretty much everything. Sadly that gene is twinned with Gene #002773 – YouDon’tKnowWhatIt’sLike Gene.
Times change, fashion changes, music changes, the world changes, but amongst the many constants there remains the fact that teenagers are always going to have face the same shit like: peer pressure, awkwardness, social rejection, growing in strange places, hating things, loving things and generally being at odds with the rest of the human race for the best part of a decade.
Since I started writing this post, which has taken some time, I’ve come to a number of conclusions. Teenagers are a strange and scary breed. They are possibly even more ego-centric than a new-born baby. They have really shite fashion sense (baaa-aaaa!). They have the social skills of a dead cat. Teenagers are many things indeed, but I guess the main conclusion is this:
Teenagers are fun to watch.