Theoden Janes

20 things I wish I’d known when I was a teenager

Orlando Sentinel

Sometimes my wife and I can’t quite fully process this person who is living in our house, rummaging through our refrigerator, changing the channels on our television, and generating dirty laundry faster than our washing machine can spin.

Yesterday, she was standing on tiptoes to grab a tube of Go-Gurt; today she’s fishing out a bottle of Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino.

Yesterday, she was watching a “Little Einsteins” episode she’d already seen 400 times; today she’s making sure the DVR is set to record the season finale of “Pretty Little Liars.”

Yesterday, we were washing her onesies and blankie; today we’re double-checking care instructions on two-piece swimsuits and designer jeans.

Today, in fact, is our daughter’s 15th birthday, and I can now count the number of birthdays she has left to celebrate under our roof on three fingers. Yesterday, I didn’t have enough hands to do that math.

She’s a typical teenager: She spends a great deal of time on homework and friends and sports, and very little asking for my advice. But I’m full of it (she’d probably use those same words, for a different reason). So my birthday gift to her is this list of 20 things I wish I’d known when I was her age – which was, ahem, just a few days before yesterday...

1. Writing the answers on your forearm and then covering them up with a long-sleeved shirt is the most foolproof way for you to successfully cheat on a test.

2. Just kidding! A good sense of humor is the second-fastest way to make an impression on someone. Being hot is the first...

3. Just kidding, again! That’s total garbage. Believe me, your peers care WAY less about your appearance than you do.

4. Except for that pimple. That thing is genuinely freaking them out.

5. The good news, though, is that you won’t have to deal with blackheads forever.

6. The bad news is that you will have to deal with buttheads forever.

7. Talking about people behind their backs at lunchtime is not cool and will come back to haunt you. Unless you are talking behind a butthead’s back. Buttheads will come back to haunt you no matter what, so feel free to talk behind their backs at lunchtime as often as possible.

8. Speaking of lunchtime, strawberry Pop Tarts do not count as a fruit.

9. Neither do the raspberry, blueberry or cherry ones.

10. The older you get, the more impressed your friends will be if you eat a lot of real fruits and vegetables.

11. No matter how hard you try, though, you will never, ever like the taste of Brussels sprouts.

12. Your parents have always known that you don’t like Brussels sprouts, but they keep serving them to you because they’re determined to get you to “go through life with an open mind.”

13. This will seem ironic, since they always roll their eyes and sigh heavily when you try to get them to listen to your new favorite song.

14. You will be sick of hearing that song in about a week and a half.

15. The only thing you will be more sick of is the sound of your parents telling you to clean your room. Again.

16. Yes, there are times when your parents really and truly are deliberately trying to make your life miserable.

17. But typically, it’s for your own good.

18. And secretly, they are often as desperate for your attention as you are ambivalent about theirs.

19. OK, maybe they don’t hide that secret from you very well.

20. The truest of all these statements, and the one that you should care about the most, is this: They want what’s best for you. They really do. And when they say they would die for you, they mean it.

Happy birthday, kiddo.

Janes: 704-358-5897;

Twitter: @theodenjanes

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