Sunday, May 6, 2012

Three’s Company, With A Teen And A Party Animal

(From today's Times and News-Star)

Guys? Fellas? Men people? Have you ever found yourself being grown up and living with a girl-type female who is a teen?

Me too! You are not alone, is what I am saying. We are legion. You are not the only male in America scratching his head and asking, “What’d I do?” or the classic “What was THAT about?”

After 10 years of living with just me and my son or me and myself, I have for the past two years lived with three women: my spousal unit, her teen daughter and Lily, who is a tiny female dog.

Lily is the only one of the three I have figured out. Perhaps it is because our IQs are so close.

Lily poops on the carpet now and then, but that’s one of the love languages I understand. I speak it fluently. The only small dog I’ve lived with in my adult life, Lily has been trained and faithfully goes outside to “use it” most of the time, but I guess she thinks that, hey, what’s life without a few surprises now and then, right? Even if it’s something you might step in.

Like the others in our home, Lily is a woman who goes her own way.

Her big sis is my step-teen. Turned 16 recently. Sweet Sixteen. Why do people always say, “Sweet Sixteen”? Because of the alliteration? Because they really are “sweet” at 16? Perhaps. I’m buddies with many of them, these friends of my step-teen, but I am smart enough to know that I would not want any of them mad at me because they would set my hair on fire. And they would say, “Sweet.”

For a guy, living with girls rather than with guys is a whole different ballgame. Figuring out what all those bottles in the bathroom are alone has kept me busy these first few years.

The main thing I’ve learned is to be quiet. When I forget this, trouble lurks. Almost always, it is pilot error. I will try to solve a problem without being asked. I will speak when I’m to listen only. Or I will make a careless comment about something that, to her, is important, which is everything or nothing, depending on the moment.

These are called hormones and we all have them. Except Lily, who, if she’s feeling out of sorts, just poops on the carpet and takes a nap. Nice work if you can get it.

To my step-teen’s everlasting credit, she has not made me feel like an outsider. She had allowed me to be friends with her friends and with her friends’ parents. She’s watched games with me. She calls me “Theo” or “Tedferd” or “Loser,” usually “Loser,” but she hardly ever calls me “Hey you.” We are making progress.

Guys, I have learned the hard way that when things are wrong with teen girls, it’s usually nothing we have done. In fact, they seldom know we are even alive! Don’t take this personally. If they need us to be alive, they’ll tell us soon enough, like when their car breaks down or a cheer bill comes due. In the meantime, I try to mind my own business and count my blessings that I’ve been allowed to live here in the first place, despite Lily’s active colon.

It’s funny what I learn when I’m quiet. A wise person once said that we try to teach our children all about life. But it’s our children who end up teaching us what life is all about.