I have teen-agers.
My daughter is thirteen, and with my love of analogy, I like to say she is in the "larva" stage of adolescence. My son, being fifteen has recently morphed into the Pupa stage.
My analogies annoy them, so that will be the end of that particular comparison. But some facts I have learned about teens in the younger stages of metamorphisis:
--teens are like magnets to one another--in social settings they are rarely seen alone
--teen-agers like to pretend that they are not mortal, meaning, they will steadfastly deny the existance of their parents, even while (or especially while) standing right next to them.
--the above is an attitude of convenience, easily reversed when they run out of money
--teens have an uncomplicated nutritional need--they can grow five inches a year, thriving miraculously on a diet of Lay's potato chips, coca-cola and pizza. (Note: when planning to feed an entire gaggle of teens, plan one large pizza per teen, accompanied by a large bag of potato chips, and nod, an entire 12-pack of the preferred soda. Don't even try to slip a diet drink, or worse, *gasp* a generic brand, as you may find yourself lampooned in animated cartoons on the internet. (They call my husband "Generic George", and they are wicked little artists too, as the likeness is amazing.)
--and? regarding the above, when their skin rebels from the above diet, don't try to reason with them regarding the benefits of drinking the occasional glass of water and maybe *wince* some vegetables *shudder* --just buy the Biore' and keep quiet.
--teen-agers only appear to be hard of hearing-as evidenced by the volume of their speech, stereos, and amplifiers and yet, if you should so much as whisper a joke, or worse, attempt to sing, laugh, or address one of their friends, you will be instantly chastized with infamous stony *glare*, therefore, do not address their friends unless said friends address you.
I'm certain I will learn more as I go along, but with knowledge of all of the above, I am quite often vexed as to how to spend some quality family time with my kids in a setting that could include their father. He doesn't seem to acknowledge/comprehend the above rules, and family outings often result in a night of bickering as I pray for Valium and referee.
But I found a solution, quite by accident, as I was reading the paper. A very tiny blurb in metro section announced an event that I knew would be so alluring to the kids that they would tolerate our presence, and since it was also free admission, nod, Generic George could not complain.
I'm referring to "Numa Rei No Con", North America's largest free anime (Japanese animation) convention, which is now in its third annual tour.
Now normally it's difficult to lasso the husband for anything that doesn't interest him--but there was the added allure of a free concert given by a Japanese pop band, "Casimo".
So after I approached the kids, and received their approval, I sat my husband down and informed him that he would indeed, drive a truckload of teenagers to this event, and I also informed him he would be well-behaved, and bring cash.
(I gave him "the look"--and I think men know of what I speak--and it worked.)
And I am here to say that we had an absolute blast of a time.
Finally, finally (serenity sobs relief) some place we could all find a niche'. I have become a fan of Anime' fans.
The crowd was a diverse mixture of all ages and sizes. The kids were so friendly, and there was absolutely no evidence of youthful prejudice that I have often encountered at other rock shows. (Meaning not one kid glared at me with that "What the hell are you doing here" implication.) All I encountered were friendly, intelligent, polite, and enthusiastic to share their knowledge to a newbie such as myself. I did bring my camera, and since my daughter (known here at pip as "misao") is fairly shy, I took command of the camera and wandered through the center snapping pics of happily costumed characters who were patient and obliging. We enjoyed the demonstrations of "cell" drawing, and I pretended to know what they were talking about when they discussed software utilities. (okay, I've heard of Photoshop--sigh)
All in all, it was a wonderful family night, with only one incident, which I blush to confess, was all my fault.
In my own defense, I would like to state that the kid started flirting with me first. He saw me asking others to pose, and since he was costumed too, he wanted me to take his picture too.
"C'mon lady, I've got a really nice sword." (He did that wicked eyebrow thing, made all the more effective by prosthetic furry brows he had somehow glued on over his--er, one can hope. Some teens are quite hairy.)
I tried to restrain myself. I really did.
"You certainly do." I acknowledged.
"It's very big and I know how to use it."
(see what I mean?)
So I played along, and said,
"It is certainly very long, and it is nice and wide, but can you whip it out for me?"
He was so happy.
He obliged immediately.
(I should say here and now, it was an actual sword, which he had purchased that night at the show.)
Now had I been happy with one photo, there would not have been a problem, but the problem was that the way he held it, it only appeared as a thin line. It was while I was directing him in the third pose that the police descended upon us.
I smoothed things over as best as I could, and I confess it helped matters a bit that one of the teens in our entourage happened to be the nephew of the local civic leader for whom the center was named.
Fortunately my family didn't witness any of this, but as I was apologizing profusely to the boy who had to go put his sword away in his friend's vehicle, my daughter pulled me aside and asked, "Who are you talking to now?"
I related the story to her as she looked pained, eyes closed and shaking her head.
But my son thought it was rather amusing.
He was less amused later as we all piled back into the truck. Y'see, some of the kids had neglected to get autographs from the band, and I was just trying to be helpful, as I piped up--"I know where they are going to eat, and I know where they are staying too."
My husband looked at me curious as I said, shrugging, "I ran into their roadie while I was outside smoking a cigarette--he invited me to come along!"
The kids just shook their heads again, and I simply said:
"Old habits do die hard."
Finally, it was my husband's turn to play "long-suffering."
We didn't go to Denny's with the band, nor did we show up at their motel, but my hubby drove us straight home, whereupon he obligingly busted open his checkbook for pizza. And yep, he ordered one per person.
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Chalk one up for serenity.
* * *
And btw? If you have a chance to go to one of these things, I obviously recommend it, just keep your swords sheathed.