Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Seven Great Things About Teenagers (and preteens, too)

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 mrsditter@gmail.com. Anonymity guaranteed.


  1. Great to have you back, Mrs. D! I've missed your sage commentary. I agree completely with everything you've said about teens/pre-teens. I'd also add that they help us become better people, overall. To some extent that's implicit in several of these points, but in addition they force us to rise above our impatience, to rejoice in what's good in the world, to remember times when the worst thing in our lives was the teacher who graded a test question 'unfairly', and so much more. We just get to see the world differently when we look at the world through their eyes, and that helps us grow.

    Oh, and don't forget the conversations about God. Wow, those are show-stoppers!

  2. You can hang out with them, talk politics with them, share a dirty joke with them, embarrass them! You can speak your mind without thinking it is going to cause emotional problems. And you get to enjoy yourself with them because they mostly like you.

  3. Love the "Mrs. Ditter" face-lift and as always love your witty and wise insights.

  4. Thanks, everyone! Always so much to write about when I look around the old homestead. Next up: Seven thousand pounds of chicken manure, or, how I spend my weekend.

  5. Once again, Mrs D, you have masterfully (and most humorously) captured the invitation our teens so obligingly give us to open up our minds and hearts in ways we might not have thought possible in the childless chapters of our lives. Teens are, of course, our teachers in manners both delightful and despicable. But it takes a wise and gifted observer to present this lovely reminder with such clarity and conviction!