The Gospel Truth

My First-Born’s First-Born:The Trouble With Teens | July 5, 2010

It occurred to me recently–actually I was reminded by the voice in the back seat that I had written about or at least mentioned obliquely all of my four grandchildren, except the oldest of the litter, the proverbial first-born of my first-born.

I am talking about the demure and lovely Ms. Claire.  It wasn’t an oversight. I just needed the proper medium with which to lionize her.

That happened at her brother Tyler’s–he of the Madden fame–13th birthday party.

Yes, now I had two teenage grandchildren.  I had barely survived having her father and aunt in those horrible years, twixt twelve and twenty when their world is in a rush to go no where fast.

I have trouble relating to teens, mainly because emotionally I have never gotten past 12 years old myself.

The fear of puberty has been too much for me!  I find that they usually outgrow me by that time.

Ms. Claire and Daddy Bee on the brink of her big change

That was what we writers call a hook!

Claire is a teenager and every time I see her I am reminded of that fact.

I advised her and her brother, as I have every other 12-year-old in my family to skip those years–immediately become 20.   But they never listen!

Personally I think all teens are mutants from another matter how cute they may be.

Most teens I know bear little resemblance to Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo or Raphael.

They answer to such praenomens as Melissa, Brent, Matthew or Jennifer, exhibiting more an equestrian kinship with War, Pestilence, Famine and Strife than with the reptilian denizens of a sewer.

Teenyboppers come in all sizes, shapes and colors, without instructions or warranties.

Jocks, nerds, cheerleaders, metal-heads, and teachers’ pets——all belong to this chronological fraternity that affects society as the bubonic plague did 13th century Europe.

They are known to inhabit arcades and stalk neighborhood malls, as primitive species once roamed the earth.

Normal twelve-year old boys and girls disappear in a time warp that obscures the innocence and charm that once characterized their pristine personalities.

During the first few years, these mutant teenagers forget, undo or attack every virtue, value or insight learned in the first  twelve.

Their bodies grow in bursts of inches and pounds, radically changing in size, texture and line, marked by the second-hand and not the calendar.

Muscles get firmer and chests fill out in more ways than one.   Their voices sound buried in the bowels of their persona, belying the children still  present in their adult-equipped bodies.

Claire is a select volleyball player and I am afraid that this condition will be acerbated by the way that coaches rack their players.

Have you ever seen a women’s college volleyball game?

All the girls seems as if they are over 6’6″ tall.  Their arms appear to dangles on the ground, leaving them open to knuckle infections.

I hope Claire doesn’t get like that.

And their hair!

I mean, especially facial hair, which engenders confidence, except on the bodies of  female teens.

Can you say the word depilatory?

The idea of  pamper takes on new meaning as they spend hours alone in the bathroom with their mirrors, cosmetics and arsenals of hair conditioners.

Teens subsist on a gastronomical diet, and that term is used advisedly, that involves an indigestible cornucopia of burgers, fries, tacos and of course, pizza, the metaphysical glue that somehow holds their bodies and souls together.

All is inevitably washed down by gallons of Coke. Diet Coke!

Sleep is their sworn enemy when there’s a party going on, but a friendly ally when it is time for church, school, the grass needs cutting or the house cleaning.

Money slips through their pockets and handbags like a bevy of bug-eyed youth, on a weekend spree at a TOYS R US.

Teenagers exist in a state of suspended animation that would make a couch-potato seem like a tri-athlete, until the phone rang or the car horn beeped.

Then parents would need state of the art camera equipment to catch even  a veiled suggestion of their blurred images.

Their language is reduced to blank stares and occasional grunts.  Teens’ lives run awash in a sea of conflict, social disregard, uninhibited self-indulgence and adult parody.

They exhibit a genetic sense of resistance to any sort of pressure, except that generated by their peers.

They suffer from a hormonal storm that clouds their reason, befuddles their judgment and reduces their level of concentration to that of apathetic zombies.

This chemical imbalance carries with it the bane of their existence—-menses, nocturnal emissions, the first kiss, fingers playfully groping in the dark, belly bumping in the night and children conceiving children.

Besides their parents and teachers, who are harmlessly inept, there is but one enemy that haunts their lives, leaving them all quaking within its powerful wake—–ZITS!

These emerging populations, quasi red badges of puberty that mock their existence, force teens to spend even more time in the bathroom, doctoring their wounds with tubes of Clearasil.

Teens are primitive Luke Skywalkers and Princess Lelias, combating the irritations and blemishes of the DARTH VADERS of the skin in an epidermal SCAR WARS.

Teens’ rooms are not inhabited by humans.  They more resemble cages with furniture.  Boys’ rooms are even worse!  Posters clutter their walls in an assorted explosion of rock art and carnal seduction.

A library of CD’s, videos and an unread copy of  A TALE OF TWO CITIES,  stretches across the vast wasteland that once was a closet.

Living organisms reside in make-shift petri dishes, giving rise to the speculation that their rooms would be suitable for a toxic landfill.

Teens dress in a masquerade of color and visual dissonance, reminiscent of an afternoon, spent looting Wal-Mart’s and Sherwin Williams.

Hair cascades down their backs in waves of growth that have forced several barbers to find more productive work as Maytag repairmen.

There’s enough grease abounds to lube an old auto.

Their music drowns any eardrum within a mile, in a cacophony of sound that  makes it impossible to distinguish between the doorbell and an atomic bomb.

This attests to their maxim that Louder is better!

Their dances to jungle rhythms, approximates a tribal individualism that underscores their basic alienation from things, resembling earthly civilization.

While most are afraid of flu shots and vaccinations, they think nothing of piercing their bodies with medieval throwbacks to torture chambers that must be at best very uncomfortable.

These mutants live for the day that society, in its legal ritual of self-immolation, sanctions their blood lust to legally terrorize the streets and highways, as if they had a legal title to every  inch of highway, usually with  their parents’ vehicles.

Unsafe at any speed, they cruise uninhibitedly, until the police pull them over.

Their wheels serve as passports of liberation to worlds their parents never experienced.

Mobile teens drive children were doing driving east on a west bound avenue at three in the morning.

Tobacco and alcohol use herald their initiation into the world of adult rights and privileges, without any of its concomitant risks and responsibilities.

Trials, tribulations, humiliations, premonitions of death, helplessness, suicidal thoughts and a fear of  progressive insanity plague this  period of adjustment.  It is as nearly as hard on the teens.

Parents stoically view this struggle as a SEVEN  YEARS’ WAR of intramural conflict and human degradation. Being a teen is so hard.  It is not something I would wish on anyone.

If only nature weren’t so cruel and teens like Claire could just stay in the suspended animation that we remember best.

The real Claire and Bee in suspended animation



  1. As a veteran that lived thru the aging of 7 children thru Teen Years…You have written a historic journey Parents experience traveling the bumpy road of Teen Years.
    Thanks again St.BB, you nailed it.

    Comment by Jim Vondras — July 6, 2010 @ 4:47 pm

  2. Uncle Duck,
    I love this!! It is so true!
    Love Always Melissa

    Comment by Melissa Ann Holley — July 6, 2010 @ 6:11 pm

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About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at







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