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Letters from America
Confessions of a Single Dad — I Lost the Instructional Manual to Teenagers
By Greg Evans
Special Correspondent
A daughter with her father

I walk into the kitchen and see my daughter sitting at the table, distracted by her tablet. “Good morning; can I make you some scrambled eggs?” I ask. She says nothing, but I think I heard some form of a grunt. She doesn’t look up but instead holds up her bowl of half-eaten cereal. I surmise that means “no,” on the eggs. I also speculate that the sound I heard a moment earlier was her acknowledgment of my “Good morning.”

My daughter turned thirteen this year, a real-life teenager. For a single dad, every day is a new learning experience. I read the morning paper and sip my coffee, put her lunch together as well as mine for work, clean up the kitchen from last night, and notice she isn’t dressed yet. “Hey, we need to leave; can you peel yourself away from that screen for like two minutes and go get dressed?” Whatever I said must have been the most offensive thing since “Good morning,” because a look of repulsion came over her face like I just listened in on the conversation with her and her pink-haired friend.

She acquiesces, but time is irrelevant to a teenager. “We have to go ... ” I call out 322 times.

We finally managed to get into the car and headed over to the middle school. She takes my phone which is attached to the Bluetooth, and suddenly Korean rap music blasts from the speakers, nearly putting me into a-fib. I look over, and she is reciting every word on cue even the pauses in the song are on point. “Who needs coffee when you have this,” I say to her.

I am lucky, though, compared to some of the other parents of modern teenagers. My daughter is the only one of her friends that hasn’t succumbed to the practice of caking themselves with makeup or dying their hair every color but normal. She did one day attempt to bring it up in conversation, “hey daddy, what would you think about half my hair being black and half white?”

“Like a skunk?” I said.

“No, that isn’t even funny. A streamer that I follow, and think is just amazing, he has hair like that. You wouldn’t understand,” she said and gave me a fake smile and eye roll.

“Clearly, I don’t understand a lot of things sweetheart. I don’t understand why humans learn to talk before adulthood, why it's frowned upon to drink before 10 a.m., why it is legal for certain zodiac signs to get married, why fast food is considered food, why the government covers up the fact that aliens exist? And…”

“And…I’m at school, unlock the door,” my daughter says and leaps out of the car. “Bye, love you,” she says.

“Have a great day, I love you more,” I respond. I know in six months; she will make me drop her off on the corner instead of right in front of the school. “I can walk from here,” I can already hear her say.

I watch her scurry up to one of her friends, another shade of her. The entrance to the school is full of them, it is like zombie land. I quickly lock the doors. I see behind me in the rearview mirror the car pulls up. The mother reaches across, opens the door, and out rolls the kid, backpack flung beside him. The car peels off. The boy jumps up and races over to friends swinging from the branches of a nearby tree while one of the teachers reprimands them to get down. I think to myself as I drive off, that is a special breed to work in a place like this.



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Greg Evans, associate director of communications of King University in Bristol TN, in the US, serves as a special correspondent for The Seoul Times. The seasoned journalist has been writing for such papers as the Mooresville Tribune, Lake Norman Citizen, the Bristol Herald Courier, and the Sentinel-Progress (Easley, SC). He can be reached at gaevans1@king.edu

 

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