You're safe if you avoid eye contact
Shhhhh…if you’re reading this, please don’t make any noise. I’m hiding in my bedroom right now, typing very quietly in the dark and trying not to draw any attention to myself. Don’t make any sudden movements or they might hear you. They’re just outside the door and down the hall.
Who are they, you ask?
They are two of the scariest, meanest, angriest, most unpredictable and dangerous creatures on the planet: My teenage daughters.
Now before you pass judgment on that statement, let’s be clear: I love them both with all my heart. I’d do anything for them, and until my dying breath I’ll do everything I can to support them in every way imaginable.
But some days I seriously don’t want to live in the same house as them.
Perhaps you think I’m being melodramatic, but there’s no other way to describe it – teenage girls are a terrifying mix of inconceivably powerful and totally uncontrollable raw emotions. On any given day, you have absolutely no idea which of their multiple personalities you might be dealing with. In one instant, they are your best friend, the cute little girls you knew as giggly pig-tailed toddlers, all sugary, spicy, and everything nicey. Four minutes later though, when they’re in the kitchen and suddenly discover that good old dad forgot to buy chocolate milk like he was asked (again), the storm clouds roll in, the sky turns blacker than Johnny Depp’s eyeliner, and those lovable little girls are suddenly more irritable than a Siamese cat stuck in an ugly Christmas sweater.
Even the simplest of conversations with them leaves you feeling like you’re playing Russian roulette with hollow-point character-assassinating bullets. Ask them any question – or just say “good morning” for that matter – and here’s what you’re going to get:
As you can see, there’s a remote chance you’ll get a civil response, but some days it’s just not worth the gamble.
My personal favorite is when you don’t get just one hostile response, but rather a special combination of them. My girls are experts at mixing things up just to keep you on your toes. Youngest Daughter, for example, is fond of the painfully labored eye roll accompanied by a sarcastically rude comment (often including the words “Duh” and/or “Whatever” for maximum effect), while Eldest Daughter has honed to a fine art - the classic combo of a ridiculously loud sigh with simultaneous angry death glare. Both have equally mastered the use of slamming doors as a form of sentence punctuation.
Sometimes they turn on each other. When that happens, your best bet is simply inventing a reason to go into the office to work on a Saturday just to avoid the carnage. Right behind “I want to see the world,” and “I want to serve my country,” the third most popular reason men join the French Foreign Legion is “My daughters have just become teenagers.”
But don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to sound insensitive. I’m smart enough to know that these mood swings are not their fault. I completely understand that teenage girls are still learning to deal with indescribable hormonal fluctuations and Himalayan-sized emotional peaks and valleys, the likes of which a regular non-female person like me could not possibly comprehend.
I also realize that teenage girls haven’t yet had time to gain the same perspective on things that an adult has. As a grownup, I’ve got way more practice at not sweating the small stuff. To a 16-year-old girl though, mundane matters like property taxes and utility bills pale woefully in comparison to the really critical issues in life, like “For Pete’s sake, how come nobody knew that I wanted my favorite hoodie washed?” or “Are you seriously telling me that you bought the green bottle of hair conditioner when I specifically need the blue one?”
But perhaps the most important thing I know is this: I don’t need to read a bunch of Marie Claire articles to understand the obvious. When those black storm clouds roll in, the best thing to do is simply find a secure hiding place safe from flying debris and just wait it out. Things will always be less dangerous in a day or three.
In the meantime, if you see me alone in a Wal-Mart at 10:30 at night buying a gallon of chocolate milk and a blue bottle of hair conditioner, I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t make eye contact.
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