I ♥ teenagers

The manchild, Charlie, tried really hard to find a job this summer.

Ok, maybe not really hard, but he did try. I found myself shaking my head like an old fuddy duddy over the fact that 95% of all places of employment have you fill out applications online now. I wanted to put on my best Dana Carvey/Grumpy Old Man impression and say, "Back in my day we didn't have any fancy-schmancy online applications that you did on your little computers. We had to cut our wrists and fill out the paper applications in BLOOD. And we liked it!". But I didn't, because manchild has reached that stage in teen-hood where I am quite possibly the stupidest, most embarrassing person on the face of the earth. The funny would have been lost on him.

Anyhoo. So he did try, I'll give him that. He applied at Noodles (carby here was really rootin' for that one), Menards, Brueggers, a nursing home, etc. To no avail.

He worked out a deal with my angel/landlord, Dan, and is now getting some moolah for mowing our HUGE lawn (Dan does all the lawn stuff, plus all the shoveling in the winter...have I mentioned before how I'm sure he's an earthbound angel? He is.). He mowed a few other lawns for some cash (thank you Whitney), and then he called my dad.

Yes, the dad I haven't talked to in a few years. If you're new to my freakshow life, you can catch up on my dad drama here.

So, bless my son's heart, he and my dad have been reaching out to each other. Charlie was actually scared to tell me about it at first. He brought it up late one night, during that twilight time when I'm propped up in bed, trying really hard to stay awake and finish one of my t.v. shows or else trying to beat my friend Leslie in Bejeweled Blitz on facebook. One of those times.

"Mom, Papa and I are talking." I was surprised, nothing more, nothing less at first. "Really? That's awesome!" I said. "How is he?". Charlie seemed relieved that I didn't flip out, and for that, I'm ashamed. I have put my kids through some serious mental crap.

Charlie then went on to tell me that Papa had called him one night, and that they had been chatting and emailing each other on a regular basis. My dad has purchased a lake home since the last time he and I talked, and Charlie was invited up there for a weekend. I was sad, sad because it just isn't right or normal for a 16 year old to be fessin' up to his mom that he and grandpa were talking. It's wrong. I felt guilt, shame, remorse, anger, all of it. But I held it in. I couldn't hold my tears in, though, as I told my son how happy this made me.

It's a good thing. There aren't any words to describe the lightness I feel in my heart about this. I am so proud of my son for being so much more mature than his mom. I'm proud of my dad for reaching out to a grandchild, the grandchild who looks exactly like him, the grandchild who once built a bridge between the two of us just by being born.

Anyways. So Charlie related his work woes to Papa. And Papa, bless his heart, "hired" Charlie to be his right-hand-man this summer.

My dad comes here and picks Charlie up a few days a week. He and I have had a few awkward front door conversations. It's uncomfortable, I'll admit that readily. I want to hug him, cry to him, tell him how freaking sorry I am for being such a shitty daughter. But I stand there, all Minnesota-cold, and say, "Hi Dad!" like everything is hunky-dory between us. It's weird, but it's progress, I guess.

My dad owns a bazillion rental properties in and around our great metropolis. When did he become the Trump of Minneapolis? I have no idea. He's the classic Millionaire Next Door, the guy with the duct tape on his ancient topsiders and the bank account that is staggering. But that's neither here nor there. He hired my boy to help him do repairs and routine maintenance on his rental properties, and if I know anything about my dad, it's that he works his ass off. So I know that Charlie is earning every red cent my dad pays him. And beyond what Charlie is earning financially, the bond that he and my dad are forging is beyond any earthly measure of worth.

My dad is old school. He grew up on a farm. Shared a full size bed with his two brothers. Took baths in a big old galvanized steel tub. Worked his way from the farm to the Pentagon and then onto other things, all on his own. He has earned every dollar he's made, and the fact that he's sharing some of this incredible work ethic with my slightly lazy, money-hungry teenager is gold. Pure, sweet gold. This is the kind of stuff that Charlie won't learn in any class he takes, at any job he gets in the future. He's learning how to be a self-made man at the foot of the master.

So, you ask, oh-rambling-one, why do you heart teenagers?

Yesterday I took Charlie to my bank, Wells Fargo. We sat there for an hour or so with a smiley, earnest "personal banker", Joshua (props to Josh for not only dealing with me and Charlie going back and forth at each other but also for putting up with my horrifying hobo-stench I'm sure was emanating off of my body...it was 95 degrees yesterday and I was still sweating from a walk when Charlie strong-armed me into the bank visit). Josh helped Charlie open up his very first bank account.

Charlie had two checks from my dad, all folded up, and placed them on the desk in front of Josh. We had done all of the checking of the boxes, all of the dotting of the i's and the crossing of the t's , all of the signing on the dotted lines, and now it was time for my son to make his very first deposit into his very first bank account.

When all was said and done, we left, and Charlie had a balance of around $100.00 in his account. He was so happy, and that made me happy. Happy even though I was dying, imagining the smell in Josh's office, more specifically, the odor of the chair I had been occupying. I was glad that it was almost quitting time when we left, and that poor Josh could leave what was by now a 15' by 15' torture chamber.

But I digress.

The very next day, this afternoon, in fact, my puffed-with-pride manchild approached me. "Mom, Papa gave me a check today. I need to put it into my account."

I said, "Great! Give it to me and I'll go put it in for you."

Manchild says, and I quote: "Ummm...I'm not really down with that...giving you my PIN number and everything."

Nevermind the fact that his account is linked to mine, that I am the owner of said account, that I am the one who has his SSN branded into my brain and rattled it off like a POW reciting name, rank and serial number during our meeting with Josh. Also nevermind that I am the person who breastfed this child for well over a year, I am the one who sat in the doctor's office and wept while this child, at 3 weeks of age, was given a second circumcision to fix the botched first one, nevermind that I'm the one who cleans his bathroom. He wasn't "down" with it.

That is why I ♥ teenagers.


  1. Great read Jenny, I too love teenagers, for this very same reason, they're clueless!!! lol

  2. LOL Jeffie~ You know exactly how it is, don't you?? Thanks for reading!

  3. Haha, great post! Im glad your son is getting to know his grandfather better & gaining knowledge of great work ethic.

  4. Teenage egocentricity aside, I am so happy for Charlie, you, and your dad. :-)

  5. Now is the perfect time to write Papa a note that specifically thanks him for what you appreciate. "I really appreciate you teaching my son the value of hard work. Thank you also for not letting our history getting in the way of your having a relationship with him and being a positive male role model in his life. He needs this and I wanted to let you know how much that means to me. Love your flawed and yet still adoring daughter, Jenny" ( we are all flawed, by the way...) ; )

  6. Why am I weeping?

    Thanks ladies. Laura, will do. The ice must melt.

  7. This is a great blog, thanks Jenny.

  8. How awesome--I *wish* my dad were still alive to teach our Manchild some of those values...I'm so glad they're getting to know each other better this summer.
    (And you cracked me UP about the online applications too--Evan went through the same exact thing--you know, after he quit his perfectly good job that he'd had for 2 years...but I digress, also....He applied at Best Buy, Kroger, Books A Million, Target, etc. And I too was a little disgusted about the whole, "oh yeah, you can go fill out an application online" thing, when he'd gone to the trouble to shave & wear a nice shirt & all.)


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