My son, Nick, is 15 and I know firsthand that being the parent of a teenager can seem like a thankless job. Teens are moody and uncommunicative, dramatic and demanding. They think that they know everything while we parents are hopelessly uncool and out of touch. Teens resent all rules and responsibilities and yet expect to be driven around and fed hot meals at a moment's notice.
It's just give, give, give without getting anything in return. But lately, I've noticed some unexpected benefits from having a teen around.
First, they're a great source for hi-tech entertainment. Teens have some really cool ways to amuse themselves. Nick has introduced me to Facebook (I originally signed up so I could keep track of him); Anaconda, an irresistible snaky game; and Shazam, an amazing application that listens to a few seconds of music and then tells you what song is playing. It's frivolous, it's fun, and I wouldn't know about any of it if I didn't have a teen.
Also, teens read good books. Young adult fiction is heavy on plot, so these books are action packed. If your book club's pick is putting you to sleep, steal from your teen's bookshelf. For a really juicy read try Stephenie Meyer's Twilight - it has all the freshman girls' moms in a tizzy.
Nick doesn't drive yet, so we carpool to swim practice. A car packed with five high school boys makes for very interesting conversations. On our last drive we discussed Nostradamus, World War II, the Presidential election and, of course, hot girls. I'm telling you, those 20 minutes in the car were more thought-provoking and amusing than any North Shore cocktail party.
Speaking of driving, I've discovered a great use for teens once they get their licence - as designated drivers. For their parents. Last weekend, Liam and I went out to dinner with our good friends, Tricia and Chuck. Everyone wanted to have a drink or two so I suggested we taxi to the restaurant. Not necessary. "Kyle will drive us," offered Tricia. So their 16-year-old son, Kyle, chauffeured us to and from our dinner. He didn't mind, because it allowed him to stay out past his curfew, and we adults were able to safely enjoy ourselves. That's what I call win-win.
You know, I'm actually getting quite a bit of value out of my teenager. If I could only get him to pick up his shoes.