In 8th grade, kids have to carry a ten-pound sack of flour around to give them an idea of what a nuisance it is to have a baby in their teens so they’ll wait until they’re older. There used to be a program where prisoners would talk to kids and show them how bad life is when you break the law. I think it was called, “Scared Straight.” These are good ideas. It’s like a flu shot – it gives you a small dose of discomfort so you can avoid the big misery of the real thing.

One thing they should also do is have a room full of teenagers and bring in couples who are desperate to have a child. They should let the teenagers just talk about their lives, and how no one understands them and how stupid their parents are, especially when they insist that their rooms get picked up every few months and the dirty, moldy plates get brought to the kitchen. “It doesn’t bother us, why should it bother them?  It’s our room, not theirs. If they want it clean, they can come in and clean it.”

And then when it’s question and answer time, and the couples innocently ask some general thing to communicate, for instance, “How do you like school?” the teenagers could answer, “why are you people always up in our faces? Why don’t you get a life of your own?”

And then they could start asking for money and a ride to someone’s house in a snide and snarky tone of voice, and get mad at the would-be parents for not jumping up and doing it on a minute’s notice.

Finally, they could start blaming the prospective parents for things like making them be in that room answering stupid questions instead of out with their friends. “Your just like all grown-ups, you only think about yourself. You have no idea how hard our lives are.” And if the parents-to-be ask if there’s something they can do to help, the teenagers can say, “Yeah, right, like you could understand or even want to do anything,” and walk out the door, slamming it as hard as they can.

Yes, I know, I’m painting a pretty rosy picture of living with teenagers, because it gets a lot uglier than this. If anyone would have warned me, I might have reconsidered. The only consolation is that, rumor has it, the nasty alien thing living in your child’s body will eventually leave, and your sweet daughter will reappear sometime in her 20’s or 30’s.  I only hope I can survive that long because, if looks could kill, I’d be fertilizing daisies.