Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Instruction Manual

I've heard lots of adults say they're disappointed that kids don't come with an instruction manual. Maybe not, but you can pick one up at Barnes and Noble for $14.99. There are books to help out parents from the moment the kid is conceived to the time that kid moves out and has kids of their own. Funnily enough, I haven't seen very many books on how to deal with parents. Yes, it is just as hard on this end of the spectrum. Scratch that, it's harder, because we can't end an argument with "Because I said so and you shall obey".
A few months ago, I was searching the internet more or less aimlessly when I found a page for a book called How To Raise Your Parents: A Teen Girl's Survival Guide. Today I finally got around to picking it up from the library. I was hoping this book would explain how to win an argument with my parents or, better yet, how to prevent arguments in the first place. Seriously, those things can last up to two hours and I have homework to do.
I was very disappointed. Like most of the world, the book seems to think a "teenager" is a person between the age of sixteen and eighteen who has a car, a tattoo, and several piercings. The book was published in 2008, so it also believes we use myspace. Oh how times have changed.
There's a whole chapter on The Essentials of Declaring Independence-Hair Dye, Piercings, and Tattoos.  Four pages are devoted to What If Boys Aren't the Issue? aka how to tell your parents you're gay. Which the majority of the population isn't.
Here's teenage life in a nutshell:
Grades, grades, grades. Your existence depends on getting into a good college. Your friends are stupid and melodramatic but you still find yourself having a good time. You live in a universe of homework, friends, soccer games, dance lessons, guitar practice, and the internet. Oh, the joys of the internet. Mindnumbing online games, amazing multimedia youtube videos, and hilarious facebook quotes. Above all, you wish you could get in maybe twenty-two extra hours of sleep a day.
And by the way, not all teenagers spend weekends drunk. It irritates me when adults-especially the ones in charge of media-base their perceptions of teenagehood on cloudy, outdated memories influenced by other media presentation. An grown man gets drunk at a Friday night party and crashes an SUV into a stop sign. Sucks to be him. A teenager does the exact same thing and it makes the papers. "Oh, young people these days. They're all so bratty and irresponsible, we were never that reckless as teenagers. Just watch, they will be the doom of our society."
Yeah, it's already here. Has been for a couple millenia. History moves in cycles, people.
Being a teenager is tricky. Adults have a plethora of parenting books at their fingertips, but I've only ever seen one useful "teenagering" book.
See previous post "This Guy is Awesome."

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