When I was a parent of small children, whenever I’d have a hard time, people would tell me, “Just wait until they become teenagers!”
I don’t know what they were talking about. Teenagers are the best. They are literally God’s gift to parents.
I mean first of all, teenagers know everything. My wife and I don’t have to tell our teenagers anything anymore, because they already know! It’s great to have people in the house who have literally nothing left to learn, and all we have to do is ask them a question and they’ll roll their eyes to indicate that they know the answer. We couldn’t be more thrilled. What a joyous time.
Because if you think about it, little kids are useless. They think their parents know everything. So what are they adding to the relationship?
But teenagers are like, “No, you don’t.”
I mean, look at your spouse. Your spouse realizes you don’t know everything, and that’s what makes him or her a good partner. You each bring your own perspectives to the table. So how about even more perspectives? That neither you nor your spouse agree with? Isn’t that better?
Another awesome thing that teenagers do for you is they’re always letting you know when you do something wrong. Not even by talking—that would be chutzpah. They do it by just rolling their eyes. And then you know. And you can think, “What did I do?” and make a cheshbon hanefesh.
What I’m saying is that you do learn a lot of things when you have teenagers. About yourself as well. For example, I found out that I chew too loudly. Who knew? My wife didn’t even know. But my kids know. And they helpfully point it out at least once a week, in case we forget.
Also, teenagers are very involved. It’s like any time you’re talking about anything important with your spouse, they ask, “What are we talking about?” They want to contribute. “Is this about me? One of my siblings?” Being involved is a sign of a good parent, so why would it not be the sign of a good teenager?
For example, when I want to take a walk with my wife on Friday night—which I am too tired to do but the one benefit is that we can talk about our kids out of earshot and without anyone barging in—one of our sons—and this is a son who wants to drive everywhere during the week because he, quote, “hates walking”—says, “I want to come with you! I want to be a part of all this talking about the kids out of earshot!” These are the kind of sacrifices he’s making for this family.
So what should we do? Lock him in the house? The best we can do is have super-boring conversations while walking up and down our one block over and over until he decides to go inside. But as I mentioned, I’m already falling asleep.
Which brings us to another benefit of having teenagers—they never, ever go to bed. This is great if you’re paranoid about people breaking into the house while everyone’s asleep, because there’s no time that everyone’s asleep! And this way when in the middle of the night you hear a door opening or something shattering in the kitchen, you can think, “Oh, it’s just our teenager,” and go back to sleep. Even if it’s not. There’s no way the burglar can be causing more damage. There’s no putting a price on that kind of peace of mind.
Teenagers can also be extremely helpful, because the thing about little kids, for example, is that you have to drive them everywhere. Whereas as soon as a person becomes a teenager, he starts begging for his license, because if you let him get a license, he says, you won’t have to drive him anywhere! He’ll just drive himself, and the only downside is that you won’t have a car for that period of time. Which, the way he sees it, you don’t want anyway, because you’re always complaining about driving people everywhere. Though you’d still have to figure out how to bring his siblings to where they have to go without the car. And it’s good you don’t have to drive him anywhere anymore, because once he gets his license, he wants to go to way more places. Imagine if you still had to drive him!
They can also drive places for you. I mean, even before the license they never happily got up and went anywhere for you, and that’s not going to change. But they might say, for example, “I’m going to the sports equipment store anyway, is there anything I can get you while I’m there?” Or, “I’m going to the store you just got back from five minutes ago that you asked me earlier if I wanted to come with you and I said no. Is there anything you need from that store?” Or, at best, “I can go to that store myself and buy most of what’s on your shopping list, as long as I don’t have to pay attention to prices.” So that’s a benefit! There’s no telling how much time you’ll save! Not to mention money, which you can put toward the cost of adding them to the insurance!
And speaking of cost-efficiency, teenagers hand down clothing way faster than they can wear them out. That’s cost-efficient, no?
Another great thing you notice once you have teenagers is that they fight less. I mean they still fight plenty, but as soon as you leave them to babysit each other, they all get along. They step up. In fact, I’m starting to think that we’re the problem. Maybe we should move out of the house or something. Though we have one kid who would follow us.
So having teenagers is a dream—a waking dream every second of the day—and I hear it gets better! Or worse. I’m not sure. I need more sleep.
Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published eight books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].