“How many have you had?” I asked my 16-year-old son as he popped another buttered roll into his mouth. We were dining at a restaurant that serves rolls before the meal.
“Nnnnh,” he replied, his mouth full of doughy goodness.
I believe he meant nine. Nine rolls.
By the time our entrees came, my teen had inhaled an even dozen. All of them were slathered in butter, too. With his super-fast metabolism, he gained nary an ounce.
Meanwhile, I ate one roll with a hint of butter and instantaneously put on five pounds around my midsection.
That’s when it hit me. I was jealous of my teen.
It’s not just being able to eat whatever he wants, either. There are six more reasons why this middle-aged mama is jealous of my teen.
I watched my teenage son consume all those rolls, but I couldn’t see the words on the menu right in front of my face. That’s because my eyesight had gone kaput one day in my mid-40s.
I was afflicted with presbyopia, which is not about church, it’s about being old.
Now when I need to read a medicine bottle or look at a menu in a dimly lit restaurant, I must pass it to my teen with his bright, shiny eyes that can see everything.
The bright, shiny eyes that he usually rolls when I ask him to read aloud to me.
I went to college. I took computer classes in the last millennium. I should be able to handle technology.
Nonetheless, I’m usually in a dither as I reset passwords, confirm my identity, sign up for portals, and wonder why the Wi-Fi isn’t working.
Then there’s my teen, the captain of technology, blissfully downloading the latest app, completing all his homework online, and solving software glitches without breaking a sweat. He moves like a nimble monkey through a jungle of apps, portals, clouds, and platforms.
I want what he’s got.
When my teen gets a group text to meet at the bowling alley on Friday night, I’m jealous.
First, I’m jealous that he has the energy to pick up and leave the house after 9 p.m. Second, I’m envious that his night holds endless possibilities. I miss those evenings of utter freedom where I’d go out with friends and end up in a booth giggling over nothing while eating french fries at midnight.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my Friday night pajama parties in front of the TV, but there is something so amazing about a teenager’s wide-open Friday nights, boundless energy, and no responsibilities other than to stay safe.
Oh my word, I’m jealous of the way my teen sleeps!
Deeply and for very long hours.
I’m awake multiple times each night due to stress (Did I buy a yearbook yet? Do we have enough toilet paper to make it to the end of the week?) or hormones (thanks a lot, perimenopause).
And sleeping in? Once my teen started sleeping in, I thought I could, too. Yet while my teen can slumber to noon, I’m lucky if I make it an hour past my usual wake-up time. It must be my age or a combination of the whining cats that want to be fed, my bladder, and the countless chores that won’t get done by themselves.
Sure, my teen struggles with breakouts, but for the most part his skin is flawless.
Glowing. Wrinkle free. Smooth, with an even tone.
My son barely washes his face each night and still wakes up looking like the poster child of an anti-aging cream.
Then there’s me. I engage in a skincare ritual longer than my drugstore receipt. Even so, I’m startled when I see myself in the mirror. Who is that lady with wrinkles and saggy skin looking back at me?
This one’s easy. I’m jealous of my teen and the beautiful, natural highlights in his hair. I’m most envious every 8-10 weeks as I get myself–and my wallet–to the salon. There I spend several hours and lots of money to get the beautiful, natural-looking highlights he grows for free.
Of course, even though I just listed seven reasons why I’m jealous of my teen, there are lots of reasons why I am not jealous of him. There are SATs, break ups, and breakouts. There are schedules jam-packed with homework, practices, clubs, and sports. Don’t forget the dangers of social media.
I realize teens are facing so many pressures and have it much harder than we did at their age.
But, still. If I’m honest, I’m jealous and wish I could eat 12 rolls and not gain an ounce. And look at a menu and actually see what’s on it.