Monday, December 7, 2009

Teens and Mood Swings

Most people who work with teens will complain mightily of mood swings, and what they mean is the mood swings of teens. My take on it is a little bit different; I think they cause mood swings in the adults around them. Or maybe that's just me. I do know I have stable moods when I am away from them. Once I am around them, I am as mercurial as any emo friend of theirs.

This weekend, we had our first bad weather. I discovered an infestation of teens in my living room and they were the kind that eat tubes of yogurt and leave the wrappers behind, take fresh glasses for a second glass of juice and open all three bags of crackers because they have to smell them first to see if they will like them. They are the kind that never go home.

Of course, while I was glowering at them, Mazy came up to me and did one of these:

which means she has to go do what dogs do in the wild. Except it was sleeting and freezing out and when I asked one of those healthy, young teens to take her, they all burrowed deeper into their couch blankets. I pulled out the one teen who was mine.

"Dude Mom," Philip protested, "it's too wet even for the dog."

"Think of something," I told him, "you have to do at least one chore around here if you want to keep doing nothing."

I walked away. Five minutes later, Philip came back with the one girl who drives. They had an idea. We would put Mazy in her van, take the extension leash to the bottom of the street, reel it out and let her poop.

I thought about it. It sounded like a no. The wind howled. Mazy howled. "We'll try it."

Yup, there we were, inside the van, letting the dog leash out like fish line. The kids remembered to bring a flashlight so we could witness the moment of truth. Once they were certain Mazy was done, they started singing, "Celebrate..."

I thought they did really well on that one. I picked up the wet socks, food wrappers and soda cans in a fine mood. That was Saturday.

Last night, Sunday, Christopher woke me up around 3 a.m. "Mom Dude, you know anything about MLA format for research? You'll like it. It's writing. Sort of."

I sat up. "Did you start it?"

Dumb question. And another mood change.

He had been playing Halo all day, and apparently all night. I was saying psychically sensitive things like, "So, have they ever done a study that correlates brain tumors with that headset?" and other things like, "You know, this is the kind of thing Howard Hughes would do if he were still alive. Remember, he's the guy who saved his urine?" Christopher kept putting his hand over the mic and whispering to his friends, "Wait. My MOM is here."

So yes, between 3 and 5 am this morning, I had to "help" research his MLA paper because he was involved in a Halo tournament of some kind. ("Help" means he sleeps while I find sources for research and document them) Around 5, Mazy gave her call of the wild again.

Philip woke up, rushed over to me at the computer and bear hugged me, "Remember when you used to call me Little Big Beluga?"

New mood change. Happy one. He walked the dog. I finished the research. I glowered at Christopher until I was at work, looking through some pictures on my phone. I knew I couldn't stay mad at him; he had taken this one of the kittens:

And I don't think anyone could look at that picture and not feel better.

Of course,they're due home any minute. With grades. I'll see how long that picture sustains me.


Bish Denham said...

An infestation of teens...LOVE IT! And sometimes they can come up with good ideas. Just remember their brains aren't fully developed until they're in their 20s. It's not you that's making the mood's them.

As for the other, there's is no way either of my parents would have done research for me, particularly if it was MY fault for not having got it done. Failing would have been the natural consicquence.

Stewart Sternberg said...

I have much experience with teenagers. I'm thinking of writing a field manual. I've observed them close and in the field...and I believe they're preparing for some frightening insurrection. I'll tell you more later.

Anne Spollen said...

Ya, Bish, they can come up with good ideas - particularly if they guarantee the continuation of their warmth and comfort.

And C. did some of the research - I put it into MLA form, then made him learn it the next afternoon. Now the one time Prince of video games has been dethroned to the low tech of only a clock radio in his room - at least until his paper is done.

Yes, Stewart, I have had those same thoughts. Sometimes I watch them in my own living room and feel like Margaret Mead.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

All familiar territory for me. You have no idea.

Anonymous said...
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Anne Spollen said...

think raising kids is a universal experience, Elizabeth. When I talk to other Moms, it's like we're all telling the same story.

I'm not sure if that's cool or scary.

Hardygirl said...

This is so great! And, I love the image of the dog on a fishline. Only teens would come up with a solution like that.


K.C. Shaw said...

I half expect your infestation of teenagers to end up solving mysteries like the Scooby Doo gang. I bet they'd be good at it, considering how clever their solution for walking the dog. :)

Carrie Harris said...

You might consider taking that picture and tattooing it on their foreheads.

It's just a thought.

Glynis said...

Lol, my daughter just married one of the teens who infested my home. He is a friend of my son's. Prior to the wedding,I asked him whatever happened to the boy with the smelly feet. I was then introduced to the Best Man!
You brought back good memories, good luck for the

Anne Spollen said...

Fishline Hound -- title of my next book, sf. It was actually quite a sight. We definitely provide the neighborhood with entertainment.

K.C., I forgot about Scooby Doo! But yeah, you are right. Except our dog is part wolf, so she might attack all the suspects.

The poopy face of Mazy, Carrie. Might be an improvement over some of the tattoos they already have. Sad to say...

Dear God, Glynis. I'll move my boys to the west of Ireland at the merest hint of seriousness with one of these girls.(Yes, that's my battle cry -- "We're moving to the west of Ireland because there's nothing there for you guys to get in trouble with_)

Then again, the girls' parents might be thinking the same thing --

Mary Witzl said...

Mmm hmm. This rings a bell. My mood took a real nose dive a couple of years ago when our eldest let me know that she needed a little help with English. I was perfectly fine until I found out it was an essay on Lady Macbeth, a short story, and Lord of the Flies. All in one night...

Anne Spollen said...

But you can do that, Mary -- you're MOM.

Yes, all familiar. I think it's perspective they lack, how long things take, what they are asking -- and I guess that just comes with experience.