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

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. 

 

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
107 comments
  1. The internet, yikes! So sorry people have decided to blame you for our country, our society, and as for those Christians who refuse to pray for you, well, just lol. Let those without sin cast the first stone, forgiveness, honesty, there is only one judge, hmmm…those are Christian values, are they not? You are honest, courageous, and brave, perhaps people fear your honesty, as they would rather live in denial. None of us are perfect, we all try our best, and that is what ultimately count. I really enjoy your tounge in cheek humor, and commend you for sharing it with us. Those of us who take it for what it is are appreciative and grateful, and for those people out there who don’t, hopefully they’ll find better, more useful ways to occupy their time, member a refresher course on Christian values perhaps?

  2. Why are you SO. DANG. FLIPPING. AWESOME?

    Of course all those meanies are seriously making my blood pressure rise right now. But for real? YOU ARE JUST AWESOME.

  3. I received a several paragraph smack-down from a Freecycler because I was totally confused about what day it was when I emailed her. In my brain, it was Sunday, so obviously tomorrow was Monday. (In actuality, it was Saturday and the next day was Sunday.) When I emailed with my mistake, the message I got back was a long lecture about how her time was valuable and I was rude and inconsiderate for making a mistake that obviously inconvenienced her (She had to put something out on her porch and ignore it, oh the exhaustion!). Some people have so little happy in their life that they feel it necessary to berate those around them for their obvious deficiencies. It hurt, but I tried to take it in stride with the mantra that her life must be sad if that’s what she spends her time on. I thought your ad was hilarious!

  4. I’m sorry that people think they can just impose their judgment on you. That’s just so frustrating and hurtful. Trolls are everywhere, don’t let them get you down if you can help it. Your ad was HILARIOUS, and giving your daughter what she wants is not by some magic default the wrong thing to do!!!

  5. There are few people more entitled than cynics who blast parents and young people while speaking of our nation’s moral entropy. The fact of the matter is that with each progressive generation our country has become more and more kind. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising then that that’s what mean people will never understand.

  6. All. The. Credit. For everything about this. Credit for not posting his number (although, pfft, I still think you should) and LOTS of credit for raising a human that is as awesome as your daughter sounds. She rocks, you rock, and don’t listen to otherwise. Haters gon’ hate 😉

  7. You are such a great writer. As a middle school teacher, I have some of the most materially spoiled kids in my area who want for nothing and yet they are the most giving and generous sort. The two don’t always go hand in hand.
    Either way, props for being honest!
    C.

  8. I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Perfectly written!

  9. I am so glad to see the love in the comments because you are definitely ROCKING it 😀 What a bunch of angry beasts, just reveling in their ugly judgement because they are miserable. Keep on keepin’ on, mama. You have a new subscriber in me.

  10. My FIRST thought was ‘WHY DIDN’T YOU POST THE GUY’S PHONE NUMBER?” I guess you’re just a better person than I am. P.S. I also have 5 kids!

  11. I hope you replied with a link to your blog

  12. Love and hugs. Thank you for your honesty and grace. Always. So proud of you and your daughter!

  13. “As Christians, we will NOT be praying for you.” This actually just makes me so very sad. I say this in a gentle but hurting way: what are YOU teaching your children? I don’t mean to sound condescending and just firing back some snarky comment in return, but SERIOUSLY? A Christian who WILL NOT be praying for someone? It’s sad that so many have lost or maybe never known the true love of Christ and what he did for us. Almost the only thing he asks in return is that we love one another. Agree? Disagree? Love one another. We are not to judge and certainly that would include accusing people of poor parenting.
    And for the record, you inspire me so incredibly much to just be me and let every side if me show; the awful and the awesome, the weird and the wonderful, the messy and the magical. Thanks for being you, Beth. Thanks.

  14. Those angry, scary people who sent you hate mail? You’ve got to wonder what kind of parenting they are doing. Teaching their children grace? Flexibility? Compassion? An f’ing sense of humor? Doubtful…

    You rock. Don’t ever feel the need to explain it.

    -xoxo

  15. Tons of CREDIT. Parenting is tough cause every kid needs to be raised differently, sometime within the course of a day they need multiple “styles” of parenting. There were people in my neighborhood (they had one kid while I was expecting my fourth) who told me over and over that I was too strict and my kids were going to hate me and rebel. The same parents told me I let them do things that were “too physically risky” (probably because I had “extra” kids. EXTRA???)
    I was too strict about who they could ride with when friends started driving but too permissive because we procured “spare” cars they could share instead of making them buy their own cars. Was told they wouldn’t appreciate their educations if we paid for college (hmmmm, the child you made pay their own way dropped out). There are always people telling you how to parent. Mommas have to learn who their children are and prayerfully figure out how to help them become pleasant adults that other people will want to spend time around. And that is tough because children constantly change who they are!!! You are doing a great job with your kids, keep it up

  16. I am finding it hard to respond. I’m like, Whaaat? Definately credit…CREDIT. What.Jerks. Very small minds…I thought it was funny. A “Christian” who “won’t pray for you”??? Whaaat? um, yea, I don’t think you get it. In my best Anigo Montoya voice, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means”.

  17. I honestly thought your ad was brilliant. It told a story, told the truth, and kept you reading. There is a website that collects the best of Craigslist, and I thought your ad would end up there. Not hyperbole. That was my first thought.

    Here are my other thoughts:

    You parent exactly the way your kids need you to. Rock on!

    “Entitled” seems to be a vampire of a word – we can see it in others, and never in ourselves (no reflection). Those texts and messages are a prime example.

    Both/And is the key to life.

    1. Haha! Vampire word, that is brilliant 😀 I am sure to be guilty of that but I can’t see where 😛

  18. On the one hand, I would have sold my SOUL for my own car as a teenager. It wouldn’t have mattered what color it was or how awful it was– I would have gratefully accepted the most horrible nightmare of mechanical beasts.

    But on the other hand, I am the girl who told her brand-new husband on her honeymoon that she hated her wedding and didn’t want to see the pictures (which were our only big-ticket item in terms of price).

    So…yeah.

    Humans, right?

    I get it.

  19. Dude, your only mistake here was buying a car without asking your daughter. Seriously? This was So going to happen. (PS not really trying to give you a hard time here. Just laughing because it is something I just keep doing and it never works)(only not cars. Because my daughter is 8).

    Otherwise, it’s all good. And that “Christian” who “won’t” pray for you? I am praying for them sooooo damn hard right now – love your enemy, right?

    I’m sorry the stupid poopy heads are getting you down. Don’t listen to them. Listen to us – but more importantly, listen to yourself. You KNOW you are a damn fine mum. This too will pass.

  20. Beth, you say you are awful AND awesome. Well, I have to disagree. I know I don’t know you, but I think you are only awesome! People are awful when they only think they’re awesome. Because sometomes you think awful things are even do awful things, that doesn’t mean you ARE awful. The only thing you absolutely are is His Beloved. Because you are aware that sometimes you do or say or think awful things, well that makes you awesome in my book! Keep up the rockin parenting! You don’t do it like a lot of others and that’s what I love!

  21. 1000 million gazillion google infinity points to you.

  22. Oh, yeah, a million bonus points for Beth!

    It has been a stressful couple of weeks around here. My daughter’s car died on the way to work and was pronounced “not worth the resurrection cost”. Her brother was able/willing to pick her up from work and jerry-rig the car to make it to the parking lot of his place of work and bring her home. (She still lives with me, he doesn’t.) Since then she has been driving my van to work and had the NERVE to complain about the poor gas mileage. So, was she feeling a bit entitled when she took my van to work for the last two weeks and I had to drive her to work at 8AM and pick her up at 8PM (after work class) because I had appointments to keep? Maybe, a little. But then, I may be feeling a bit of entitlement when I ask her to do things like carry in groceries or carry things out to the car for me. We’re family. It works that way. We do for each other, even though sometimes we resent it a little (or a lot).

    In the middle of all of this stress/drama, I read your Craigslist ad. I sent it to her. We both laughed. A lot. Thank you.

    P.S. She doesn’t want a manual either, even though her brothers keep telling her how much better her gas mileage would be.

    1. You do ROCK!
      So does your daughter and I agree with you about all of it!
      PS. Major extra credit points for you girl!
      I would have posted the number.

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