In Defense of Teenagers Who Are Entitled and Not Entitled and Wild and Weird and Wonderful… As Though They’re Humans, Too

Feb 11 2015

Hey. Fun game! Want to know what makes people angry? Like, really angry? Like, Send A Stranger Multiple Messages To Tell Her How Much She Sucks kind of angry?

Posting a car on Craigslist and telling the truth about why you’re selling it. 

Letting the Real You hang out, without a lengthy explanation, on the Internets.

Letting folks know you’re Not Perfect and Finding Your Own Imperfections Amusing in a public forum.

Works like a charm! Makes people CRAZY. 

True story.

Four days ago, I put an ad on Craigslist. I’ve posted it below because, even though it doesn’t violate Craigslist’s Terms of Use, the Angry People flagged it until it triggered an automatic removal. (See? Told you this was fun!) 

You can just skip the boring parts of the ad and move down to the loooonnnggg paragraph in which I tell you {SPOILER} I’m everything that’s wrong with parents these days.

2006 Nissan Sentra
Manual 5-speed Transmission
79,000 miles
Silver – really more of a warm silver – very light bronze, maybe? But Craigslist doesn’t give that as an option, so “silver” it is.
4-Door Sedan
4-Cyl, 1.8 ltr Engine
FWD
Air-Conditioning
AM/FM Radio and CD Player
Dual Front Airbags
Cloth Interior
Manual Windows
Manual Locks
32 MPG on the highway / 24 MPG city

What’s wrong with it? It has a small dent in the front bumper (see photo), a small dent in the driver’s side passenger door (see photo), a squeaky idler pulley, and it’s missing 2 hubcaps. We plan to get these things fixed and repost on Craigslist at a higher price, but we thought someone might want it “as is” for cheaper. We would! We do less work + you get a car for cheaper = win/win as far as we can tell.

Why are we selling it? We bought this car this summer from the previous, long-time owner. It’s been as advertised – great commuter car, reliable, low miles, blah, blah, blah. But we bought it for our 16-year-old teenage daughter without asking her first. DON’T DO THAT, parents. Unless, you know, you’re actually prepared to put the kibosh on the complaining factor; and, by “put the kibosh on the complaining factor,” I mean more than saying, over and over (and over and over), “Seriously? SERIOUSLY. We bought you A CAR. Or we bought US a car you’re allowed to use because – hahahaha! we’re SO not buying you a car to keep — but STILL, Child; BE GRATEFUL for A CAR you get to USE,” because we’ve tried that technique, and, frankly, it’s useless. Just… totally useless. As much as we’ve tried to deny it, current evidence suggests we’re those new-fangled, permissive parents who raise entitled children; we are, after all, selling this car because our daughter doesn’t like it. She doesn’t like that it’s silver. She doesn’t like that it’s a manual (too bad, kid – guess what we’re getting you next? ANOTHER MANUAL because LIFE SKILLS, baby girl). She doesn’t like that it doesn’t have power windows and locks. In other words, she never would’ve survived the 90’s. Never, ever. Look; I’m not proud of us, either, selling a perfectly good car to buy something our kid will like better, but it’s the truth. Plus, her friend just got in a car accident in a Volvo – a bad accident with flipping and flying and all those things you do NOT want to be in a car while it’s doing – and survived, so our daughter began a campaign for a car with more metal, even though the Nissan has a good safety rating, and it worked. Wearing us down with whining + having one, actual, legitimate point that capitalizes on unreasonable, illogical parental fear? <<< She’s not entirely without Life Skills, after all.

In other words… pffffttttttt. Anyone want to buy a perfectly good car?

You can pray for us,
Beth

P.S. My husband just read this and wants you to know *I’m* the permissive parent and he is certainly not. If it was up to him, she’d have this car forever and damn the complaining. That’s true. Fine. Whatever. 

That’s the ad.

It was intended to tell the truth — the whole truth — about the car and why we’re selling it since, it’s, you know, a Car Ad. In the ad, I chose to simultaneously poke fun at myself as a parent. Gentle fun. Silly fun. Tongue-in-cheek fun. 

IMG_2475Lots of people did NOT find it funny, though, judging by the myriad messages I’ve received decrying the state of parenting in this world, lamenting entitled teenagers, and denouncing today’s youth, so I’m taking this opportunity to say, publicly, the ad was not intended to tell the whole truth about my daughter or the whole truth about my parenting or the whole truth about our youth today, because, see, it’s not a Daughter Ad or a Parenting Ad or a Teenagers Are Awful Ad.

In addition to the delightful text I received pictured to the right, among others like it, I have an inbox full of emails from people with similar messages including choice tidbits like, 

I just saw your add [sic] and would like to say as Christians, we will NOT be praying for you as it is your own fault…teach your bratty spoiled rotten child a lesson!!

and 

How long will her marriage last if she manipulates like this?
How will she keep a real job?

Which, WHOA. You know? Those are Soooome Messages, like Wilbur was Soooome Pig; those are Something Else, man. Just… Something. 

Now, are my feelings hurt by these messages? Yep. Sure. You betcha.

There is, after all, nothing I want to get right more than parenting. Nothing. Bar none. If I had to choose Just One Thing to Get Right in this life it would be Parent Well, which means there’s no faster way to cut to my heart than to tell me I’m screwing it up; no place my skin is thinner.

There’s also nothing I’m more certain I’m doing wrong than parenting. I do something wrong every day. Every hour. Every minute. Every breath. And no matter how well adjusted I am — no matter how enlightened I become or how much therapy I have or how many times I say shush and forgive yourself — I will always be certain I could’ve, should’ve, done more as a mom. It’s the nature of momming, I think.

As much as I mess up, though, I’m also ROCKING it, and that’s closer to the Whole Truth about my parenting. Because I’m not either Awful OR Awesome, as though I have to pick just one box to check; I’m both Awful AND Awesome. Both/And, friends. I’m sucking it up AND I’m fantastic at this parenting gig. I’m a screw-up AND I’m a deeply engaged mama with a laser focus on raising complex humans with complex needs and complex abilities in a complex world.

I have a feeling that’s not unusual for parents. To be both Awful and Awesome. I have a feeling I’m not alone in this territory. 

And, speaking of Both/And, in case you’re curious what I’m teaching my daughter about entitlement, here it is, Both/And Style, in two parts: 

  1. Sometimes in life, we have to live with things we don’t like. Like the fact that you’re the only kid in this house without a bedroom and you’re stuck sleeping in the reconfigured den. Sorry, Kid. That’s the way it is. I know you want one of the bedrooms with luxuries like a closet and a door that locks and some privacy from the living room where you siblings are up early EVERY MORNING being LOUD, but we can’t do that right now. There are a limited number of rooms in this house — five kids is a lot of kids, girlfriend, and we’ve got ’em doubled up — and even though it’s not your fault you’re one of five, you’re the one who’s stuck with the den.
    AND…
  2. Sometimes in life, we get to fix things we don’t like. Like that car you hate. It’s a perfectly good car. It’s completely silly to trade it out. But it’s an easy fix. It’s something I can do for you, so I will. Because you know what? What you want always matters to me. Even though I can’t and won’t fix everything for you, what you want always matters, and sometimes I get to demonstrate that.

It’s Both/And, friends. In the Adult World and I hope — I hope — in the world of our kids, too. Both, “Too Bad, Kid — Sometimes We Gotta Live With What We Don’t Like,” and also, “I’m ALWAYS Here, On Your Team, And We Can Work Together To Change Things.” Both “I Won’t Fix Everything for You,” and also, “Sometimes, When I Can, I Will Be Extravagantly Kind.” 

Does my daughter act like she’s entitled? Yeah, sometimes she does. You know what? So do most people I know. Including me. Including the people who felt entitled to send unkind messages to a stranger. {{shrugs}} 

My daughter, though, also acts the opposite of entitled. She shares her parents’ time with four other siblings, two of whom have special needs and require a great deal of our time and attention. At sixteen, my daughter successfully attends two different high schools (one of the reasons we have a car for her to use) and manages all of her own scheduling, responsibly getting herself to and from both schools, her jobs, her extracurriculars, shopping for her own needs, and often runs siblings to and from their appointments, as well.

My daughter is, frankly, a rock star who manages far more than most sixteen year olds I know, and she does it gracefully, responsibly, and proactively. AND she occasionally whines about things like hating the car we’ve bought for her to use. 

Now, I want to be really clear about one other thing, given the fact that, in the
Car Ad, I apparently caused confusion about Who My Daughter Is and Who Teenagers Are in general. Without intending to (thinking, as I did, that I was writing a message mocking myself), I provided an anecdote for those who subscribe to the Teenagers Are Horrible and Selfish and Entitled and the Future of Humanity Is Ruined and Let’s All Wring Our Hands and Gnash Our Teeth and Rend Our Garments mantra. 

To set the record straight, teenagers are AWESOME. And awful. But mostly AWESOME. 

Teenagers are WONDERFUL and wild and weird, especially the ones who, like the rest of us, are made out of human.  

Teenagers are complex and creative. Fun and funny. Exuberant and exhilarating. Irritating and irrational. Logical and loving. And deeply worthy of our love and respect. 

Like all of us.

Even me. 

Even you.

Except not the Angry People, because they suck.

Except probably them, too, which is the worst

Pfftttt.

The End

P.S. Someone give me extra points for not posting that guy’s phone number. K? Points? Someone? ‘Cause extra jewels in my heavenly crown aren’t going to do it for me on this one. I NEED CREDIT, friends.