She’s been roaming the empty rooms of the house these past couple weeks, loosening audible sighs as she leans in the doorjambs. She’s pitched bowling and rollerskating, movies, concerts and weekend trips to no avail. She’s been checking the doorbell-camera on her phone to monitor their ingress and egress from the house.
And I think, finally, she’s coming to realize what I’ve known for about a year now: These teenagers are just not that into us.
Really, it’s been coming for some time. The oldest has been ditching us in public for about three years now. Our middle child has been lukewarm about the whole “parents” thing since about the age of 12. And now it’s our daughter, who’s been hard-rolling her eyes at me for a long time but is just now starting to distance herself from the both of us.
These days they’ll tolerate us in short bursts, like when we peer into their rooms — but not, ever, without knocking. They can sometimes endure an entire restaurant meal with us, though they prefer to order in and eat in their rooms. And there is the frequent necessity of riding with us in cars — which must be infuriating to them, as interaction is inevitable when all their friends live out in Summerfield.
But summer’s just about here, and the oldest can drive, and sometimes now the three of them get in the car and just… drive off… leaving my wife and I sitting there like a couple of wallflowers unable to fill our dance cards.
My wife teared up a bit when she heard Ani DiFranco, onstage with Rhiannon Giddens at last month’s Greensboro Bound festival, talk about what happened when her daughter turned 12.
“The earbuds went in,” she said, “and nothing else could get through.” The famed folk singer, activist and author said she was reduced to following her own daughter around like a stalker, asking, “Do you want me to watch you do something?”
It helped. A little.
Unlike myself, my wife is not accustomed to being barely tolerated by the people around her.