No, You Came Here for An Argument!

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No, You Came Here for An Argument!

I wasn’t a very nice teenager.

I completely admit this, by the way.  I am certainly not proud of it and am even less happy that it’s true. Still, I wasn’t.  I was moody, listening to music all the time, inflicting my moodiness and grumpy demeanor on my parents.

I have a child just like me, living up to every parents’ curse “I hope you have a child just like you!”

Room a mess.  Headphones in the ears.  Every single conversation some sort of combative testimonial to how wrong Dad is and how put-upon they are.

It seems like a scene out of Monty Python.

I never go into the conversation with the teenager expecting an argument. I don’t intend to be combative . . . but sometimes I’m as much to blame as the kid.  That’s just not right, either.  I understand that.  I was beginning to think it was just me and that I was somehow needing to pull back even more.

But I had a simple conversation last night and my oldest was home.  She still has her moments, don’t get me wrong, but past the teen years she sees things a bit more clearly.

I had gotten a note saying that my middle daughter was not at one or more of her classes.  I knew this wasn’t the case, it was AP testing day so she was certainly at school.  I’d even gotten a full description of her entire day.
“I got an email today saying you’d missed class the other day. I think you need to talk to your teacher and clear up that you were there.”

“It was AP testing day.”

This, of course, I knew already.  I might have mentioned it above?

“I know that…just, you said you’d hung out in one of your teacher’s rooms and she said she’d take care of it.  Maybe want to check and see if she did?”  While that could be read as a sarcastic question…it really wasn’t.  Not a drip of it.

“Geez…I can’t be in the classroom.  That’s what AP testing is for.  Other kids are still there and they have to take attendance, Dad.  Sheesh.  That’s why I was marked that way.”
I was thoroughly confused by this.
“But . . . you were taking AP testing so you weren’t absent.”
“Right.”
My head was spinning by now.
“So . . . they marked you absent even though you weren’t?”
“Daaad! They have to because I’m not in the classroom.  What are they supposed to do, mark me there?  They make arrangements for that!”
But apparently they didn’t because…I had a note from attendance that looked like she’d skipped.
“If it’s not fixed it looks like an unexcused absence on your record, I’m just trying to fix that.”
“But it’s NOT unexcused I was IN SCHOOL!!”

But before I could get my hackles up and say “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD I KNOW YOU WERE IN CLASS!! JUST TELL THEM TO MARK YOU NOT ABSENT THAT IS ALL I’M ASKING!!” my oldest daughter chimed in.

“Jesus, Dad’s just trying to say talk to your teacher.  He didn’t argue with you he’s giving you the opportunity to fix this yourself…like an adult would do.  You want to be treated like an adult but when he asks you to take some responsibility you tell him it’s his fault and he is wrong?  Just go talk to your teacher, it’s not like this is hard!”

Apparently that didn’t go over well because the headphones went in and the teenager slunk off up the stairs.

“I was just trying to ask her to talk to her teacher, that’s all.  She really likes the teacher, I said to no one.”

“She’s just a teenager, Dad,” my daughter informed me . . . a piece of information I already knew, but she informed me anyway.

I took a breath . . . and running through my head were Michael Palin and John Cleese.

“I came in here for a good argument!”
“No . . . you came here for and argument!”

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