I thank God every day that he gave me my teenagers because really, that was what I hoped would happen to them when they were little and I wished for ever greater smart-alecks. We were out gathering Newman’s Own products, and there are a ton of them, for gift baskets for the coaches my son has had for the past few years. These five coaches were steadying forces when we needed it most. They were the adults that showed up to put other adults to shame, to reassure me that our values existed out in the world when we wondered where such values had gone. So now we are showing our gratitude by offering gifts as our boy graduates and moves on.

But in the grocery store where we were shopping together, my two large children, full-fledged teenagers loaded with puppy energy including name calling and shoving each other, we ran into a neighborhood family out with their five little boys including the newest, just a few weeks old. We are talking about each parent manning a slinged baby across their fronts, little guys in the two shopping carts and someone walking along beside their laden parents. This family of seven, calm and seemingly serene, their children probably all under eight years of age, I swear were putting my kids to shame with their civility. My teenagers had just been insulting one another loudly, and I ignorantly shushing them, when we came upon these friends, and then suddenly with me in cahoots put on the civil act just in time to fool at least half of them. Fool them into thinking teenagers are not impossible, just like toddlers.

Only worse.