Teen life revolves around phone calls, car rides

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Teenagers have a different view of life.

They don't think like we do.

Take walking, for instance.

Our 13-year-old daughter, Becca, informed us the other day that walking is not an option.

I suggested that she could walk from junior high to her mother's place of employment a few blocks away at the end of the school day.

But Becca quickly replied that walking wasn't something that junior high students would readily do.

Apparently, it wouldn't be stylish for students to be seen walking. At this age, they want to drive and legally can't.

But at least they figure they can be picked up from school by caring parents so they don't have to step foot on the school buses and endure a long ride home with fellow students who don't want to be seated on those giant, yellow vehicles either.

For Becca and her cohorts, this is the age apparently when moms and dads become seemingly full-time chauffeurs to provide transportation to the mall, movie theaters and a popular ice-cream shop.

Of course, I like to be appreciated. But as a dad I want to be appreciated for more than my driving.

Actually, my younger daughter, 9-year-old Bailey, routinely questions my driving skills. She clearly has taken after my wife, Joni, who also has been known to question my inability to pass the milk-bottle test.

My family says I have embraced start-and-stop driving even when there's no need for it.

I prefer to think of it as essential city driving.

At any rate, Becca is just glad to have a ride. Walking isn't an option.

There's another thing about teenagers, too. They suddenly become glued to the phone.

They can't do anything that doesn't involve a telephone conversation.

At times, I feel like our home has become nothing more than a telephone switchboard.

The phone rings and it's seldom for anyone else in the family.

The other night we decided to have a family card game. We all gathered out on the back porch to play a friendly game of Spades.

But Becca couldn't just play cards. She had to play her cards while talking to a friend on the phone.

At Joni's urging, Becca finally hung up and devoted her attention to the card game where, as luck would have it, she promptly proceeded to trump all of our hands.

She was downright gleeful about it. But when the game ended, she was glad to move on to more telephone chitchat with friends.

Becca's also taken possession of our hair dryer. It used to be stationed permanently in the master bathroom.

But Becca recently relocated the hair dryer to her room. I found it one day in a place of prominence on her bedroom floor.

At times, she's even used Joni's makeup and borrowed jewelry.

I don't have anything she wants to borrow, except cash.

As another school year begins, I'm sure of one thing: Our home increasingly will have a busy signal.

And when there's no busy signal, Joni and I will be steering our teenager's travels as best we can.

Mark Bliss is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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