The Terrible Teens?

Why I wouldn’t trade the teen years for a good night’s sleep

When I was a teenager, my mom said, “Follow your dreams, Son.” So, I went back to bed.

We had our children fast. Three in three years. The anaesthetic from the first birth was still working for the third. Before long, we had three teenagers in the house. “Honey,” I’d say. “Run for the hills! Grab the food.” These almost-adults can be moody, obnoxious, and listen to music that sounds like someone is throwing lawn darts through a jet engine.

When our kids were young, we pushed them around supermarkets. Sometimes I’d try to swap my grocery cart with others, but they never accepted my offer.

Old people—probably in their forties—would shuffle over and say: “You think things are bad NOW, you just wait. Soon they’re gonna wanna date and drive your car.” Then they’d shuffle off to the Prune/Bran Flake aisle.

Contrary to the fear and paranoia programmed into us by TV and the squinty-eyed prophets of doom, we loved the teenage years. Oh, it wasn’t all easy. Sometimes they reminded us why certain animals eat their young.

When they were small we begged them to finish their broccoli. When they were teens, they cleaned their plates. And our plates. The fridge. The freezer. The pantry. But never the dishwasher. Then they looked at the dog dish and thought, How bad can that be?

My daughter loved to drive. She would jangle the keys in front of me. “Come on, Dad. There are stores open somewhere. Let’s go.” Rachael loved shopping so much that she signed up for shop class.

Jeff was fifteen when he said, “Dad, I’m thinking of getting an earring. Maybe 7 of them and some tattoos.” I said, “That’s quite a coincidence because I was thinking of having all my pants hemmed just below the knees. And getting a T-shirt that says, ‘I’m Jeff Callaway’s dad.’” He laughed for about a week. And forgot about the earrings.

Please don’t attempt to parent without a sense of humor. There’s nothing quite like wholesome laughter to show our kids that it will be okay. Let’s lighten up. With God’s help, we’ll get through this together.

Three steps can help. They’re outlined in Romans 12:12:

1. Rejoice in hope.
2. Be patient in tribulation.
3. Be constant in prayer.

Tell that to those squinty-eyed prophets of doom. Then help them find some prunes to put on their bran flakes.

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Phil Callaway

Phil Callaway, the host of Laugh Again, is an award-winning author and speaker, known worldwide for his humorous yet perceptive look at life.

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