Award-winning writer: Jackie Papandrew

Airing My Dirty Laundry!

Teenager in Love

    -- Each night I ask the stars up above Why must I be a teenager in love? --
    Dion And The Belmonts
My teenage son is in love for the first time, and his puppy love is taking a big bite out of his mother’s psyche. I know his heart will go on, but I’m not sure mine can stand the strain.

You forget how ferocious those early crushes can be. Today’s teens don’t get the chance to build up the intestinal fortitude needed to safely survive first love’s flames.

When I was a teenager, you had to pay your dues.  The telephone – which was tethered to the kitchen wall by a crazy thing called a cord – would ring, and your heart would leap within as you raced to be the first one to answer it. If you were lucky, you were able to achieve this goal. But then you had to stand there, hand covering the mouthpiece, and whisper sweet nothings to your beloved while your mother hovered nearby and your kid brother, grinning like a maniac, made obnoxious noises with his armpits.

If you were unlucky, said brother got to the phone first, and then you had to endure moments of sheer torment as he mockingly questioned your caller and, if your sibling was as evil as mine was, let slip some very embarrassing (and false) information about your personal hygiene. Either way, your character was strengthened by the experience.

But now, thanks to cell phones, calls and text messages from the opposite sex can come in unnoticed by others. No character building in that.

And parents don’t get any warning from music either. Back when I was afflicted with amour, I’d stoke my teenage tragedy meter by listening to music by bands like Bread and The Carpenters (remember them?). When they heard this kind of sappy sound emanating from my room, my folks would know something was up. But I didn’t get any such admonition when my first-born was struck by the love bug. The invention of the IPOD means that kids get to shoot their sentimental songs directly into their ears with no one else being the wiser.

So I never heard it coming. I thought my son’s angst-ridden expression was just a bad case of indigestion. By the time a cute little snippet of a girl appeared at my door swinging a blond ponytail and wielding a metaphorical woman’s weapon -- feared by all mothers of sons – capable of separating me from my baby, it was too late. He was smitten.

I used to think girls were far more affected by these things than boys. I was wrong. My son, the child who normally can’t shut his mouth, is absolutely tongue-tied in the presence of this girl. His eyes have a tender, deer-in-the-headlights look when she’s around, and his face wears a moony expression that is absolute agony for me. When she simply says his name, the young lout literally shudders with delight, the way he used to shudder when – just yesterday -- I would pick up his toddler body and twirl him around in my arms as he laughed. Where does the time go?

On an impulse, my rookie Romeo – who had never before expressed an interest in making music -- used all his money to buy an electric guitar, that icon of heavy-metal manliness. Then he took a couple of online lessons and learned just enough to be able to awkwardly strum a romantic refrain or two in the presence of his sweetheart.

Although the vixen who’s trying to steal my once-little man simpers sweetly when he does this, my daughter and her friends have a different reaction. They get great amusement out of spying on the pair, peering through the door and making loud smooching noises. This sends my son into a rage.

“Mom!!” he’ll scream. “Do something!”

Reluctantly, I will shoo the girls away, secretly applauding their disruption of the duo.

“Yuck, they are just so vomitocious,” says my word-wise daughter.

My thoughts exactly.

~  © Jackie Papandrew 2007 ~

Jackie Papandrew is an award-winning writer, syndicated humor columnist, coffee addict and mom to a motley crew of children and pets who provide a steady stream of column ideas and dirt. She's also wife to a very patient man who had no idea, years ago when he still had time to escape, what he was getting himself into. Visit her website at:  JackiePapandrew.com

[ by Jackie Papandrew Copyright © 2007, (me@jackiepapandrew.com) -- submitted by: Jackie Papandrew ]


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