The other day I gave my wife the look. At 7:30 on a Thursday morning, I was finished. We love him, but our teenage son is driving us mad.
Words are inadequate to describe the experience of living with a teenager. Parents, you are not alone:
- You feel confusion mixed with love and you begin to talk to yourself. “Is she really mine? She gets this from your side of the family!”
- You feel tension that temps you to drink your feelings away, “Have I not told you five times to brush your teeth?”
- Just when you are ready for bed, after fighting to get him to take a shower, you realize he has been in there for 30 minutes. How could he be in there for 30 minutes, when all he has to do is wash his hair, his feet and his pits?!?
I understand enough about child development to cause trouble. I know that the teenage brain is exploding with new cells and synapses. It makes me wonder if all of the cognitive renovations lead to a form of temporary insanity?
NGRTI: Not guilty by reason of teenage insanity
To further my case, I did some research. The word Adolescence, is a compound word. The the root word is Ado, as in “Much ado about nothing” (Ado is also defined as Fuss or Drama). If you put it all together, Adolescence means: Drama + Less + Sense = A lot of drama colliding with a little insanity.
Teenage insanity is a condition that most of us experience and for some adults, they will experience the syndrome for most of their adult lives. Use this simple quiz to assess the level of teenage insanity for your teen, your partner or coworkers:
14 Symptoms of Teenage Insanity Syndrome (TIS)
- Addicted to imaginary friends. In our case, it is the iPhone that he does not own. The kid has no job and no means to buy a phone. Do you know what question he has asked me at least fifty two times? “Dad, what phone carrier do you think I should go with when I get my iPhone?” Me: “Do you have a job?” Him: “No, I’m just trying to be prepared.” Me: “I’m not talking about this until you get a job. If you like preparing things, try preparing your lunch.”
- Attention span is painfully short. I asked my teen to go to the garage, get the lasagna from the freezer and then turn on the oven to 375. I know, too many steps. What did he do? Put the frozen lasagna into the stove and forgot to turn it on. Hmm.
- Awignorant: Aware and ignorant at the same time. Teenagers are very aware of other people’s (especially their parents) shortcomings, but grossly ignorant of their own = Awignorant.
- Blames others for whatever goes wrong. We sent him into the garage with a dozen eggs and asked him to put them into the fridge (our old fridge is in the garage). Instead, he put the eggs into the freezer. When I asked him why, he said it was my fault, because the car was blocking the fridge door, so he put them into freezer so at least they will stay cold.
- Demanding and narcissistic, “I try not to be an ass to people outside of my family.”
- Fixation. I wish it was oral fixation, that would have saved us over ten thousand dollars on his braces. No, his fixation is with heavy metal music, texting his friends who create drama that WE have to deal with, and his iPod. Pretty much anything but homework.
- Imaginary girlfriends. His friend sets him up with this girl whom he has never met, has never seen, does not know anything about and he wants to date her? Is my kid a stalker? Or perhaps the girl is Siri? “Siri, will you go out with me?” And Siri says, “You must be crazy, I don’t exist.”
- In need of recovery. I notice a number of symptoms that point to his need for recovery time: constant cravings for chips and computer time, demanding control, mumbles and slurs his words, sudden unexplained mood changes, stumbles for unknown reasons, lack of impulse control, and in denial – about the status of his room, his bed, his homework, and the need to brush his teeth.
- Irrational, defies common sense. Gets his allowance, spends it the next day and then claims to have no idea about how to buy a birthday gift for his sister, his mother, or how to pay for other things that he wants. Next month, same thing happens.
- Manipulative, “I hate you but can you give me 10 bucks?”
- Persists with an argument even when they know you are right. They take joy in creating drama, irritation and multiple consequences. Then they return to #2.
- Repeats themselves. One day he told me five times in a row (and I acknowledged him five separate times) that he bought some new spray paint: Black spray paint and white spray paint. I’m really not certain why he was so passionate and why he needed to repeat himself. Maybe he was sniffing the stuff?
- Unaware of boundaries: “When I invade your space, that means I love you.” Yes, my friends, he actually said that.
- Wants freedom to make their own decisions but need constant reassurance. We finish a ‘conversation’ about his latest plea for more freedom. Then he proceeds to need five hugs and asks me eight times to tell him that I love him.
Depending on the number of positive responses, more aggressive treatment will be required. Treatment for the care-giver/coworker involves coffee, loud music, long walks in unfamiliar cities and purchasing large ticket items. Most teenagers (and/or adult-teenagers) will work through their condition with love, limits, soft spongy rooms and cuddle time.
If you are a parent of a teenager, or if you work with an adult-teenager or if you know a teenager. We understand how teenagers can drive you up the tree. Join us and have the conversation that no one else is having.
Keep it real