Exhibit A: The American Teenager

This is Jacob. Jacob is our long-haired, self-seeking, hard-headed 14-year-old who makes us want throw ourselves in front of a moving train on a daily basis. He does not like to be photographed, so the only pictures I have of him look like this, or alternately, they are from the fourth grade…back when pictures were acceptable. He is one of those kids who, if you didn’t love him, would have been locked in a basement enclosure years ago.

Currently, he has three (yes, 3!) Fs in various classes. In fact, the only class in which he has an A is Band, which, as he tells us, is the only important class, since that’s what he wants to do with his life. So, I’m resigning myself to being the mom of a guitar-strumming wanderer living somewhere in the subway system of New York. I’m picturing him with an open guitar case in which to collect people’s spare change as they pass by and appreciate his brilliant music, music that will, of course be elevated in its brilliance due to the amazing acoustics of the subway walls.

I’m starting to despair of ever getting this kid through school. In addition to the Fs, he also boasts two Ds and a C. English is stupid, “cause we ain’t gonna need that grammar anyway.” And math, don’t even ask about math. Who needs math in order to succeed in the world? History is just that: history. We should just let it go and let the past be the past.

All colleges will look at will be the sheer level of talent that he shows, so why bother with anything else? See why I might find the idea of cliff-diving into the Grand Canyon appealing?

We’ve moved on from punishment to bribery and then back to punishment. Jason is convinced we’re headed straight for having a 30-year-old living on our couch in 16 more years, and I’m not so sure he’s wrong about that.

Our only consolation is that, in talking to other parents of teenage boys, we’ve learned that many of them have the same problems. How do parents survive this? Note to self: Stop at store for more rum today.

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