Yeah, right. But hang on...
1. Teenagers force you to examine your cozy little assumptions.
There you are, going about your daily life, meeting work deadlines, doing laundry, planning next spring's garden, la la la la la---WHAM! Veganism! Laptops for 11-year-olds! Religion! Animal rights! Skateboarders' rights! Politics! Purple hair dye! Clothing! Relationships!
2. Teenagers are hilarious.
Goofy, occasionally childlike, willing to look ridiculous if it makes them laugh (teens are not above posting video of themselves dressed up as woolly mammoths and cavemen), clever with wordplay, endlessly creative, occasionally sarcastic (see #3, below).
3. Teenagers are cruel.
And when they are, remember, acknowledge, and examine the times in your life when you've been cruel. Great reality check.
4. Teenagers demand accountability.
Don't want them to swear? Stop swearing. Repeat ad infinitum, with everything: eating junk food, lying, cheating, cleaning your room, hanging up your towel, and owning up to that time you broke every rule in the book when you and a few dozen friends snuck into the university pool at 2:00 AM.
5. Teenagers are passionate.
Remember what it was like to get all worked up about stuff? If you can regain that passion (without the exhausting drama and hormones), it can change your life, no matter how old you are, no matter how set in your ways you've become, no matter how scared you are of failing.
6. Teenagers dream big.
Semester at Sea. Juilliard. Harvard, Yale, MIT, Berkeley. Book contracts. Movie contracts. World travel. World transformation. Long-lasting romantic love. Delectable vegan brownies (probably the most impossible item on this list).
7. Teenagers work hard.
Babysitting, lifeguarding, flipping burgers, digging compost, stacking firewood, endless piles of homework, team sports, team projects, being cheerful (remember what hard work that was as a teen? OUCH!), making polite conversation when guests are over for dinner (again: OUCH!), dragging through life sleep-deprived because the teen circadian rhythm is not set to coincide with getting up at Oh Dark Thirty to catch carpool/subway/bus/train/whatever during the school year.
8. Bonus Item! Teenagers force us to remember and to give thanks.
Remember when the world seemed big and welcoming. Remember when our options seemed wide open. Remember back to when the grooves in our brain weren't worn quite so deeply. And...give thanks for the choices we've made, the options we've turned down, the grooves we've worn, the insight we've gained.
What can you add that's great about teenagers and preteens? Leave it in the comments below. And as always, if you have a question for Mrs. Ditter, leave it in the comments or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymity guaranteed.