Confession: since November, i’ve been holding a teenage girl against her will in my basement.
Hahaha, i’m going to big boy jail, aren’t i?
Clarification: since November, the wife’s (metaphorical) little sister has been living with us. Owing to her mom’s moving to another town while still maintaining enrollment in another faraway school, the kid had a > 90-minute bus-T-train-walk commute each way to school. Coupled with making some of her own bad decisions and flunking basically everything, we decided that we would solve a lot of her problems by having her live with us. And sure, there are literally bars on her window, but 1: she has by far the best one of our two extant windows, and 2: she isn’t really mad about living three blocks from Newbury St. and all those sweet sweet material goods.
Some things about living with a teenager:
- It’s gone a long way towards settling our indecision about what to watch. No more deciding whether or not we’re in the mood for serious fare or comedy, we’ve got someone to choose for us now:
- YouTube, especially, and the idea of it as a primary go-to for ‘what’s on’. She definitely does not like RiceGum, and tells us how she doesn’t like him anymore while she watches. This is one of those dudes who’s famous online for reasons (i’m not even sure he’s a video gamer anymore), and now he’s mostly known for badly rapping about his beefs with other YouTube ‘stars’.
- Beyond that, she’s kind of omnivorous, but terrifyingly short on attention span. Fast forwards through opening credits, skips to favorite scenes like playing the track on a CD on repeat. Recites seemingly meaningless bits of dialog as non sequiturs. Berates the wife for her refusal to admit that she’d dump me for her latest onscreen crush.
- Also, now i have been exposed to the Kardashians, which she’s aware that she shouldn’t like, but has strong opinions about nevertheless. Also, why does she keep turning on Dr. Phil on snow days?
- We’re learning about the capacity of our little apartment. On the plus side, once we get a door installed, we can call it a two-bedroom with a relatively straight face, due to rigorous testing. On the downside, there is now not a single horizontal surface of the bathtub that does not have a large bottle of hair product balanced on it. Most of it’s mine, obviously. There are other things, like needing a third chair at our tiny dinner table, or finding that said table isn’t ideal for homework, then noting that the light in the room is too dim for scrawling out math problems, too.
- Tongue-in-cheek characterization aside, a lot of the problems with it are roommate-esque in nature. Dishes and cups left everywhere, things of all kinds just dropped in place and left. The good news is, we can flat out issue orders to fix this; the bad news is, teenager’s gonna teenager, and these have only temporary, grudging effect.
- We are picking up new slang, such as “that’s so extra!” (going above and beyond in terms of awfulness, esp. as applied to homework, but also in the sense of trying too hard), and “that’s a neck!” (accompanied by a chopping motion, implying that you have just been owned by a joke). Also, “literally dying.” (as in, this is her all the time)
- There are lifestyle changes, too. It’s tough for us to tell whether this (especially the getting up 1-1.5 hours earlier) has made us no fun anymore, or if it’s just the natural effect of February. But with our tiny apartment, since she must go to bed at 10, that means so do we. Or at least we hide in our bedroom. Which is funny, because as we rationalized making an offer on the place, we said, “who cares if the bedroom sucks, it’s not like we’ll spend any time there!” Anyway, our renovation punch list has been reordered now.
- Finally and most disturbingly, i find myself doing all sorts of things my father did when I was a kid, but chiefly just being a relentless hardass on homework. “Well, you halfheartedly did a crap job on an easy one, so here are two hard ones.” “Okay, here’s another one, but this time, try.” “You know this material, but you’re going to fail this test because you’re rushing through stuff you learned in September.” «Pour le vingtième fois, tu dois savoir le difference entre avoir et être!»
- Also, sometimes i’m punning.
- And i have gray in my beard.
Anyway, the important thing is, what once were straight Fs are now straight Bs, and the kid’s better rested, maybe somewhat better off. Me? I’ll get over the whole turning-into-my-dad thing eventually. And at least the wife gets to make fun of me for that.