God save us from teenagers.
When the children are very young, they are self-absorbed and generally clueless but one holds out hope that they’ll grow out of it when they hit their teens. But once they hit their teens, you understand that the self-absorption is still there and the nature of the cluelessness changes. They can handle multiple electronics simultaneously and perform academic/intellectual functions that are actually quite impressive. But they still can’t remember to give you the details on where they want to go with their friends. They are convinced of their invincibility – as I was when I was that age – and are generally unaware of the dangers that can surround them, unless they’re forced to adapt due to living in a dangerous neighborhood. When you try to talk to them, the response is akin to the dog in the Far Side cartoon: Blah blah blah blah Fido blah blah blah.
If I had to find a television father who most temperamentally resembled my own father, it would have to be Red Forman of That ’70s Show. For all of his wonderful qualities, he was cranky and generally intolerant of teenage boneheadedness; being called a dumbass was a familiar experience. I promised myself with Eldest’s birth that I wouldn’t continue that experience with them and for the very large part I’ve been successful but it has really gotten much harder as the years pass. My father, and other men that I’ve met through the years with teenagers, have commonly used the term "half-assed" as an adjective. It’s one that I’ve tried to avoid but there are now moments when I quietly offer it up as I consider something that’s been said or done. Like many other fathers through the course of generations.
I wonder if scientists have finally figured out what most fathers know. The last step in the maturation of the teen body into adulthood is that the kid finally develops a second buttock, qualifying him or her as no longer being half-assed.
And until then, I just have to hang on.