Congratulations! You now have a Teenager!

This is a unique and strange model. Unlike any acquisition you’ve made before, this one will both confound and amaze you.

In the interest of safety, the helpful hints contained in this leaflet will assist you in getting to know your Teenager and his/her settings. Fear not: you will become familiar with the Teenager’s curious behavior in no time.

(Proviso: Note that we chose to say “become familiar with,” not, “understand.” There is no model quite as unique as the Teenager.)

1 | Approach with caution

Regardless of your soothing tones and neutral facial expression, things can turn ugly in seconds. Approach any and all conversations with caution. We cannot stipulate what might set your model off to floods of tears or slamming bedroom doors. It might be the time of day, the day of the week, or the color of your shoes. Consider carefully any throw-away comment or light-hearted tease you might want to direct at the Teenager. Spontaneous combustion may be imminent and you will definitely want to get out of the way before this happens.

2 | Grow a thick skin

As time passes, you might experience what is known as a Good Day with your Teenager. Do not let this lull you into a state of nonchalance. A hug or a smile one day can morph into utter contempt the next. The Teenager is able to convey sheer disdain in a single, wordless stare. Resist the urge to curl into a ball and die. Shake it off and hope for more Good Days.

3 | Learn to talk to yourself

Unlike toddlers, who prattle on about anything and everything all day and ask you endless “why” questions, the Teenager is prone to bouts (read: hours, days, and even weeks) of total silence. Barring shouts of “whaaaaaa-aaaaat?” from his/her room in response to your pleas for information, you will, at times, forget what the Teenager’s voice sounds like.

Do not be fooled, though: The Teenager’s silence does not necessarily equate to a lack of communication. He/she is likely carrying on multiple conversations via a range of electronic devices, all with his/her thumbs (a neat trick unique to the Teenager model). A clue would be the odd snicker or snort emitting from the Pit that is the Teenager’s room.

4 | Learn to turn a blind eye

…or you risk becoming The Nag. And no one, least of all the Teenager, wants that (refer to Point 1).

The Teenager’s slothfulness knows no bounds. Over time, you will observe his/her prodigious capacity for assuming the horizontal position and staring at a screen. The floors of the Pit will become progressively less visible under the piles of discarded clothes, dirty dishes, unread school books, and electronics cords. Any pleas from Teenage owners (also known as “parental figures”) to make the Pit floor more visible will be met with heavy sighs and immense irritation. Nagging may lead to spontaneous combustion (refer again to Point 1).

Close the door and back away slowly.

5 | Ignore the strange growths

You might feel the need to take your Teenager for repairs because odd growths have appeared from each of the Teenager’s ears. These growths are what are known as “Head phones” and are completely benign. Cancel the repairman. The growths will likely disappear in three to five years.

6 | You know nothing

You never have and you never will, according to the Teenager. His/her model is the first and last to experience the agony that is the Teenage phase and you are sorely mistaken if you believe that, by virtue of having once been a Teenager yourself, and having decades more life experience, you know more that the Teenager about anything life-related.

Follow these instructions and you and your Teenager will enjoy many mystifying years together.