Let me start by saying I have good kids. I would even go so far as to say great kids. Smart, polite, funny and talented.
At the same time, I also have two teenagers one nearly 18 and the other 15. These two teenagers bear no resemblance to my teenagers, though there does seem to be some sort of spiritual possession going on. That "teen spirit" that people talk about, and Nirvana once sang about? Yeah it's in my kids. I'm not sure how to get it out except to pray and wait.
The way the spirit-beast manifests itself varies from day to day, but it's always there for sure. One of the most blatant signs of its presence are stacked dishes in the kids' bedrooms. Sometimes the beast is thoughtful enough to move the stack to the stairway newel post so as to make it obvious that it is satiated, but other times the chocolate milk glass and pizza roll plate are left on a dresser or desk in hopes that the holy dish exorciser will remove them. And Father Jim or Sister Donna usually does while muttering under their breath about ants, bugs and mold.
The dishes stem from the teenage appetite which seems to have reared its head with a vengeance. The kids eat Totinos pizza like they own stock. They pop pizza rolls like Pez candy. Furthermore, when I go to get the leftover "good pizza" from Matteos or other order out, I am more often than not told "the kids ate that this afternoon".
What? That never used to happen. Since when do the kids eat any leftovers?
Oh yeah, that's right. They're possessed.
The teen spirits seem to have 6 feet. I know this because it leaves all twelve-times-two of its shoes by the back door until it looks like a Famous Footwear show floor. It seems to have an aversion to putting any of them on the shoe rack, and I'm not sure why. Structure must not be its thing.
The spirit of ThirteenToNineteen is evidently a perfect driver. It seems to recognize, correct and admonish every bad driving habit that its parents have picked up over the years. Driving record counts for nothing and heaven knows they will never pick up the same bad habits. The thing has it's own radio stations too, and not only likes to listen to them when they're driving, but also prefers that I listen to them when I'm driving them too.
Somewhere along the way teendom has taken my cute little child voices and made them deep, throaty adult voices that I can suddenly hear from any room in the house. Much of their language is indecipherable anyway, either because of my encroaching deafness or the fact that they are like speaking in like, well, like a different language. Throw into that some eye rolls, "tsk's", or "wow, Dad"'s and well, I do my best using hand signals, text messages and stair hollering. We communicate at a subhuman level, but it seems to be working most of the time.
It seems the teen spirit needs rest too. Lots and lots of sleep. It doesn't seem to like sunlight much before noon and prefers indoor surroundings to fresh air as well. It can watch an entire TV series on a 2 inch phone screen for entertainment and seems to get exceptional joy out of 7 second videos called Vines. It loves pajamas and Axe deodorant and seems to have a new affinity for personal hygiene. (This is a good thing.) Soda is it's drink of choice leading to belches that would make a sailor blush. Not cute kid belches, but adult belches.
I want to know when and how did this happen?
Don't get me wrong, there are lots of really cool things coming out of the passage of my kids through their high school years too. For example, Sarah now drives Ben to school every day. This means that Donna is freed up to do more important things. They now understand our adult sarcasm and Also, they seem to be much more mature about making their own decisions and calling out injustices or prejudices in others. They also use this good judgement to determine which friends are the good ones, worth pursuing, and which ones are best left out.
The funny thing about it is I was exactly the same way when I was a teenager. There is truly nothing new under the sun.
And so, I'll have to wait this one out. Soon enough they'll be college bound and the teen years will be a distant blur. Until then, I'll keep studying these beings, as I know my cute cuddly children are in there somewhere.
Oh, and maybe I'll start storing my leftovers on the shoe rack.