A teen’s request

Allison Mang is a student at Reed High School and a former RN&R intern.

I want a sleek, red Mustang for my 16th birthday. Everyone always gets a brand-new car for their Sweet 16th. Wouldn’t I look stupid in your beat-up station wagon? Surely a new car would be a lot safer, so you wouldn’t have to worry about me breaking down on the side of the road.

I want a tattoo. This would require your signature. It’s not a big deal. It just hurts a little. They use the most sterile and safe methods today. And I’ll put it somewhere you can’t even see it.

I want your credit card to go back-to-school shopping. I only make enough money to go out on the weekends, so you will need to help me out a little bit. Plus, carrying around a card will save you the trip of taking out a bunch of money from the ATM. You wouldn’t want me to lose all that money, would you?

I want to be able to stay out at night without a curfew. No one else has one. I’ll be responsible, I promise. And see, this way you don’t have to wait up for me. You can just go to sleep and get your rest.

I want a cell phone. You can’t live in 2002 without a cell phone. This way, you can always get in touch with me anytime you want. And it has to have voice mail, so that you can leave me a message, just in case I am away from my phone. Also, if I need to talk to you, I don’t have to go find a pay phone. You know, just if something happens, we can always get in touch with each other.

I want you here at dinnertime. I don’t have a clue how to fix anything, and you always make the best dinners. This way, I can tell you what happened today and you can tell me what happened in your day. It is so lonely when I sit at the table all by myself eating dinner.

I want to hang out with you once in a while. It seems like we hardly ever see each other. Our lives are so busy. Maybe we could go to a movie, or to a baseball game, or just simply sit and talk. Remember, one day I will be all grown up and we won’t have these times together.

I want you to listen to me, to pay attention to me, to recognize I exist, to understand what I am going through. After all, you are my parents … you of all people should know what being a teenager is like, since you have been there before. Just please try to understand that nothing else matters—the car or the curfew or the phone. I just want you to be there to put an arm around me and say, "I love you."