Are Teenagers Real People?


My oldest daughter just turned sixteen.

I’d like that to be my blog post for today, but then I’d be punting.

I don’t punt.

My daughter is a wonderful person who works harder than I do. That’s definitely saying something, but therein lies the problem. It’s the “saying something” that leaves me befuddled. You see, she utters the word “like” every third word, restarting sentence fragments at least three times before completing a thought, and grates on my last IT consultant nerve. IT consultants value efficient brevity in communications because that’s how people talk when they’re getting things done. And y’all know how much I like to get things done.

The way my daughter communicates flies in the face of my long-held communications ideology of getting to the point and quickly ending the sentence. Yes, I said “ideology.” If I were to speak freely, I would say, “Cut the passive voice, don’t shake your knees up and down like you’re revving up to take off into space, and please, for the sake of sanity, BAN THE WORD “LIKE!”

Tonight I asked her why, in the Good Lord’s name, does she have to make her body tremor all over when she’s talking? As for the incessant use of the word “like,” I didn’t go there. I’ve learned to tackle one thing at a time.

She responded with a downward gaze and suddenly low countenance as if I’d just taken her iPhone away and banned her from Netflix. I swear I was nice about it, but it seems that any tiny hint (and I mean a mustard seeds shadow of a hint) that I don’t approve of something she is doing, thinking, liking, or wearing causes her to plummet into the abyss of woe. This annoys me. I walk on egg shells.

She doesn’t respond this way to my husband. They’re close but sometimes they fight like kids, blaming each other for starting this or that skirmish. I don’t know how to skirmish and have no desire to learn, so I just walk away until she’s over whatever it is that’s hit her upside the heart. It works in the short-term, but then I ask the wrong question again and the cycle repeats. It’s complicated.

In the mid 80s while playing stepmother to an arsonist, I read a self-help book called The Dance of Anger. Thankfully my daughter isn’t anywhere close to becoming an arsonist (as far as I know), but there’s definitely some dancing going on here.

I wonder if I still have the book.