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By Staff | Mar 20, 2015

One of the most vexing things a parent must endure is teenagers.

Parenthood starts out easy enough. You bring home that tiny bundle of joy, a little creature that makes weird noises and emits some god-awful aromas.

Aromas that could stop an army of zombies at a thousand yards.

Despite what some people may say, there isn’t much to caring for a newborn. If it cries, it probably just needs to be changed and/or fed.

Either that, or it’s concerned about recent developments in the stock market and there’s not much you can do about that at 2 o’clock in the a.m.

But as I was saying, caring for an infant is a snap. When it cries you wake your wife and inform her of the situation, then go back to sleep. Nothing to it.

Babies aren’t very interesting until they’re about a year old. That’s when they become self-propelled and you can begin to teach them useful skills such as how to completely conceal yourself by hiding your face with your hands.

One of the best tricks I taught our boys was called “go get Daddy a beer.”

Things are never better than when your kids are small. You, as parents, are the undisputed authority on everything, including topics with which you have absolutely zero expertise or knowledge.

You can simply make it up on the fly and your child will take it as gospel.

For instance, if your offspring should ask a really difficult question such as, “What keeps clouds up in the sky?” you can reply “They are suspended by an antigravity beam that’s emanating from an orbiting Klingon battle cruiser. And yes, that’s also what keeps the moon up there.”

Your unquestioned parental primacy will last for perhaps a decade before the situation begins to deteriorate.

The changes will be small at first. You may begin to notice that your child is displaying a marked increase in appetite. There once was a time when you could easily satisfy your toddler with a few morsels from your plate.

As a teenager, that same child can put away vittles at a rate that would shame an adult grizzly bear. You dare not reach for the mashed potatoes for fear of losing a limb.

Other, more troubling changes will soon make themselves apparent.

Your child may become sullen and moody. But worst of all, he or she will begin to question your hard-won adult wisdom.

At first this doubt may manifest itself subtly, with eye-rolling and head-shaking and mutterings under the breath.

Before long, the child will openly challenge your knowledge and even your actual intelligence.

For example, one day you may hear mutters from your teenager that go something like, “What sort of person wears plaid with stripes?”

“Hey,” you might reply, “This is my lucky shirt. I was wearing it when I met your mother.

“You wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for this shirt.”

Vast amounts of eye-rolling ensues. “Whatever,” the child will mumble in that put-upon manner that all teenagers have perfected.

Your adolescent will begin to make unreasonable demands regarding his or her wardrobe. You are told in no uncertain terms that those cute Oshkosh B’Gosh bib overalls and those Scooby-Doo undershorts no longer cut it.

Your child instead wants – no, demands – designer jeans that cost approximately as much as your monthly house payment.

And the jeans that are the most coveted are those that have been distressed. That is, they look as if they’ve been bathed in battery acid and sprayed with buckshot.

It strikes me as strange that the jeans which appear to have the least amount of wear left in them are the ones that come with the biggest price tag.

I probably have a small fortune in my top dresser drawer.

Your child may also inform you that their lives will end unless you buy them expensive sneakers that have been endorsed by some fabulously rich and famous person.

Shoes that cost more than what you paid for your first car.

And the demands of adolescent fashion fetishism don’t end there. There came a day when my wife and I were taken to task because we didn’t have any product on hand.

“What do you mean by product?” I asked my wife.

“You know,” she replied. “Stuff to put in your hair so that you can shape it and make it shiny.”

“Couldn’t a person just use axle grease? It’s a product and I have lots of it in my grease gun.”

And that’s when I learned where our kids got their talent for head-shaking and eye-rolling.

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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