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Being the mother of a teenager has been an eye-opening experience.  I have to say I was not prepared for the attitude.  Sure, I had heard all the horror stories about “Teen ‘Tude” but obviously the parents telling those stories were trying to blame their sub-par parenting skills on their child. Bad parenting – that is the root of all those sullen faces and crossed arms. Thank God I am a wonderful parent who has taught my children to say please and thank you, and to smile and answer politely when an adult speaks to them. You know, the basic behaviors that mean you are part of the human race.

Having put enormous amounts of time and effort into raising my children correctly, you can imagine the resentment I felt when I found myself being followed through the supermarket by a slovenly, angry child wearing a hoodie and sullen expression.  It was quite obvious that this particular child did not want to be in the supermarket.  The look on his face said as much – a look which is usually reserved for the condemned as they are led to the gallows.

While I felt bad for this child, who was obviously the most long-suffering, horribly wronged being to ever walk the face of the earth, I did not want people to think that I had raised this moody excuse of a boy; nor did I want his bad manners and attitude to rub off on my perfect children.  I began looking around for the mother of this angsty teen.  I figured I would immediately know her by her “World’s Worst Mother EVER” t-shirt, and her obvious disregard for the other patrons of the market.  (What other excuse was there for making us all endure her child’s angry glances not to mention the huffy sighing coming from his general direction?)

Needless to say the woman had completely vanished.  I can’t say that I blame her, but what in the hell was I going to do with this horrible, moody child following me around?  I decided to completely ignore this scowling, huffing shadow and just finish my shopping.  Maybe he would decide to follow someone else, someone who would pay attention to the long sighs of  boredom he was emitting every few seconds.  I stopped in the cereal aisle and began comparing granolas. Which was the best deal? Raisins? Almonds? Then I heard it, a foot stomp followed by a very audible groan. That was the final straw! I couldn’t take anymore! I whirled around and…Oh holy hell!  I was face to face, not with some stranger’s angry child, but with my very own son. The apple of my eye, the sweet little angel that picked dandelions for me on Mother’s Day. What was my little darling doing wearing this teenage scowl? Had he been abducted by aliens and infected with teen ‘tude? Maybe he had picked up the bug at school.  Surely somewhere in that long list of vaccines he had when he was little there was one that protected him from teenage sullenness.

I felt a little panicky as if I were standing on the edge of a great abyss. I began to question every parenting decision I had ever made. What had I done? What had I done!?! And more importantly, what could I DO? Well there was only one thing to do. I marched the little shit up to the customer service desk and nicely explained that I found this child wandering the aisles and his mother seemed to be missing.  I nodded in quiet agreement when the lady at customer service said it was a crying shame the way parents these days raised kids.  I left my basket of groceries in the aisle and walked quickly to my car without looking back. I did make one stop on the way home to pick up a “World’s Worst Mother EVER” t-shirt.  Really, other than having to change grocery stores, I seemed to be managing these teen years fairly well.  Like I said, it’s all about the parenting.

By the way, if you stop in at the supermarket and see a teenager slouching with crossed arms and scowling face next to the lost and found bin, just throw him a sandwich and back away. He’ll be okay, I totally plan on going back and claiming him…in 5 or 6 years.