Monday, June 04, 2007

How to Ruin a Teenager's Life: A Manual

It's summer! And with that comes the joy of having my stepson. We don't get to spend a whole lot of uninterupted time with him during the school year because even on the weekends, he's busy with lacrosse practice, play practice or just the social life of a teenager. But during the summer, we actually get him for weeks at a time. The down side is that he's 16 and feeding him almost requires someone to get a second job. And...he's got the "unhappy with everything we do" syndrome that infects people of that age group. The up side? The joy that is my stepson. He doesn't find as much joy in this together time as I do, but it allows me a sustained period of time to play "Torture the Teen", one of my favorite games on this earth. According to him, these are the things that I did over the weekend to ensure that he is as miserable as possible. Because I love him that much. Feel free to use these and adapt them to your own home version of "Torture the Teen".

  • I made him eat a salad - with something more than lettuce, cheese, croutons and 5 cups of salad dressing. I put carrots and cucumbers on it. I did leave the tomatoes off of his, since I know he can't stand them. But I think the salad situation still goes on the "torture" side of our relationship and not the "love."

  • I made him speak to his grandmother on the phone when she called. I would give anything to hear my grandmother's voice again, and he yet he hates to talk to his grandparents. It must have something to do with being 16 and not 29. But these are people that pretty much worship the ground that he, their oldest grandchild, walks on. If you don't want to talk to people who literally think you aren't capable of doing anything wrong....well then, there's not much sense in having the ability to speak.

  • I wouldn't let him throw lacrosse balls against the side of the house. I have a crazy love of my windows, and for some reason the thought of him flinging a 4 inch rubber ball at full force against the side of my house makes me nervous. I suggested he bring his lacrosse net over here from his mom's so he would have something to fling the balls into, but of course that was rejected before the sentence was out of my mouth. Reasons for rejecting this perfectly good idea didn't seem necessary to him, so I don't guess I'll ever find out why. It's probably simply the fact that I suggested it, but maybe the possiblity of breaking my windows would make him feel a little better about the fact that I'm ruining his life?

  • I didn't buy soda for him (I very rarely have soda in the house anymore), so he only has water, milk, lemonade, tea or sugar-free-kool-aid-substitute to choose from when he's thirsty. I'd even let him have coffee if he wanted it. And we have hot tea. But it will ruin a meal if he doesn't get his carbonation.

  • I kept the remote control in my hands or on my lap for 4 entire hours on a Saturday evening. He didn't want to necessarily change the channel. He just wanted to feel in control. But I knew that as soon as a commercial came on, all sense of restraint would vanish and those buttons would start getting pushed. So I was a hard-ass about it.

  • I made him go to a family event - a birthday party for two of my nieces/his cousins. I get the fact that he doesn't want to interact with anyone over the age of 18 or under the age of 15 - but that doesn't mean he gets to ignore family. Or miss a chance to fill his stomach for a few hours with food that I didn't have to prepare.

And he's only been here for 48 hours! I have six more days to think of ways to singlehandedly ruin his life for the summer. Why do I have a feeling that the above things will be remembered more than the chicken Parmesan I'm making specially for him (because it's his favorite meal)? Or the fact that I drove 15 miles out of my way to get the kind of lemonade mix that he prefers over the brands they sell at Walmart? Or the clothes he'll get. But that's ok. I'll probably remember the fun I had playing "Torture the Teen" a lot longer than I'll remember making pasta anyway.

No comments: