I consider myself warned ... and warned ... and warned ... and warned again.
As a family man, I tend to write about my children because, as you know, they're more talented and smarter than yours. Plus, I don't get out much.
And, as someone who writes about his kids and has an audience, I constantly get warnings from people. They come drenched in that semipatronizing tone that's recognizable even when in writing: "Oh, well, just wait until they get to be TEENAGERS."
Sweet mother of all that's holy, not TEENAGERS.
It's almost as if they forget I already raised a teenager, who's now in her 20s. She wasn't so bad, nor did I expect her to be. And I don't expect my other three children -- ages 11, 10 and 4 -- to be so bad. Most teens don't just wake up one morning with an irresistible urge to take drugs and start driving their cars through other people's frontyards.
But enough about me in high school.
The warnings I keep hearing are much like the ones when my kids were little. You know, "Oh, just wait until they turn 2." Then 3. Then 4. Then ...
It's OK. My daughters were fine when they turned those ages. That's not to say there haven't been some challenging times. Children are challenging at any age. I imagine my mother still finds me a challenge, and I'm 45.
But the reason I have children -- and I seem to have a knack for marrying women with children -- is that I like them. I choose to be around them. (That only goes for my kids, not yours. Don't get any ideas about leaving one on my doorstep.)
As the father of past and future teen girls, I know what's coming. There will be boys, arguments, nastiness with other girls, heartbreak, occasional lapses in self-confidence and about 30,000 other issues. The boys are the least of my worries. I can handle them by simply scaring them to death ("Nice to meet you, fella. While you're standing there, can you pass me that jar of steroids and that can of gun-cleaning fluid?").
But there will also be great times. Not to be all syrupy, but watching one's kids grow up into people you can be proud of is one of life's greatest pleasures. That's sort of the whole point -- shaping them into good people who will buy my wife and me a large recreational vehicle to drive to national parks when we get old.
No, I don't need to be warned about teen girls, because I know what's coming. I'm looking forward to much of it, because I don't plan on letting them become the kind of teens people can't stand. You know, like I was.
What I really need to be wary of are certain adults.