As the parent of a teenaged girl, I fluctuate between thinking she's the best kid on the planet and trying to find the return instructions. I keep the following list on the fridge and refer to it whenever I’m provoked into a homicidal rage by my teen’s casual dismissiveness of my advice, time, and worth as a person.
DON’T KILL HER BECAUSE....
1. Life on the Lam. As romantic and attractive as running away from home sounds, in reality, it’s probably a bummer. If I knock the kid off and make a break for it, I’ll have to memorize new personal details like social security and phone numbers, not to mention fake childhood traumas. I’m lucky I remember why I walked into the kitchen five minutes ago. Forget recalling my name is now Beatrice.
2. The Police Investigation. If I dispatch her and decide to stick around, I’ll have to deal with the police investigation of my child’s mysterious disappearance. Listen, I’m busy. I don’t have time to answer a lot of questions and attend news conferences begging for my child’s safe return. Especially when I know she’s safely buried under the rhododendrons.
3. My Husband. If he doesn’t agree to the early termination of my parental responsibilities, I’ll have a problem. My husband is a great guy and and he can cook. I’d hate to have to bump him off for not supporting my decision. I’d starve to death and there isn’t enough room under the rhododendrons.
4. The school district. If I decide to rub out the kid and pretend she’s still around, I’m in trouble. Think the police are bad? The district has the educational equivalent of a tactical SWAT team ready to invade my house if my teen racks up one unexcused absence. Just thinking about fabricating that many reasons for my daughter missing classes gives me a headache.
5. The Internet. Assuming I manage to fool the adults, I’ll have to maintain my daughter’s online life. Otherwise, I’ll be repeating that line from every Scooby Doo show ever made. “I’d have gotten away with it, except for those meddling kids!” I’ll have to brush up on my OMGs, 143s, and LOLs. Luckily, kids think text or Facebook activity equals a heartbeat. God knows someone wouldn’t pretend to be a teenager online.
6. Waste of time. After re-learning my math facts, English grammar, and all the science projects I “helped” make, eliminating her now would mean that was all a monumental waste of time. Throwing fourteen years of hard labor out the window doesn’t sit too well with me. And I’m not starting over now.
7. Free Labor: Who else is going to rake leaves, clean the cat boxes, or empty the dishwasher if I get rid of my teen? Sure, I won’t have to endure the sighs and eye rolls as she accomplishes the task at glacial speeds, but I won’t have to do it myself. It’s probably cheaper to feed her than it is to hire someone. Luckily, I don’t have boys. Even with work house conditions I wouldn’t break even on the food bill.
8. Technology: I’m a neanderthal. I wasn’t born with an iPod grafted to my body. If I ice my kid now, I’ll never figure out the remote, how to take a screen shot on my iPhone, or what Tumblr is. I’ll be consigned to living in a world that is so thirty seconds ago.
9. Adulthood. If she doesn’t end up living in my basement with her slacker boyfriend, I’ll actually like my child again. She’ll have moved out of my house and stopped treating me like the village idiot. Do I want to miss the moment when it dawns on her that I really was right? No way.
10. Revenge. Right now, the thought of my self-centered, know-it-all, hormone-driven teenager reproducing makes me want to jump. Eventually it’ll happen, though, and I’ll be ready to spoil my grandchildren rotten and laugh uproariously while the little darlings torture my now grown teen, giving her in spades what she gave me while growing up. Who said revenge isn’t sweet?
I usually read this list in between strikes of my forehead against the refrigerator doors. It reminds me to keep my hands to myself, this is a just a phase, and that I can get through it. Then she dances into the kitchen, plugged in and singing on the top of her lungs, completely unaware of her brush with death. She busts a move and grins at me. I rub my bruised head, grin back and think, “I’m glad you came to live at my house.”