You Just Never Can Tell

The Teenager is not a child that you would ever have described as “adaptable.”

He was 15 before he would consent to wear jeans. They apparently weren’t soft enough.

He eats like a really big, hairy, four year old: primarily fast food, peanut butter, pizza, cereal, and gallons and gallons of milk. No vegetables whatsoever, very little fruit, nothing you wouldn’t find on a kids’ menu at a restaurant.

He refuses to get his hair cut by anyone else and insists on doing it himself. He does a surprisingly good job, except for when he gets a little too creative and ends up bald, as happened last week. But that’s another story.

In short, he just really wants things the way he wants them, and that’s that.

When we found out we’d been posted to Vienna, he carried out a year-long campaign of resistance: telling us he wasn’t going, coming up with alternative plans for staying in DC, and sabotaging his own grades. I mean, he really didn’t want to go.

At some point over the summer, that completely turned around. A switch started to flip.  Or maybe he just gave up. But, in any case, he arrived at post with a whole new attitude. Which is good thing, because…

…we knew that he’d be going to the “alternative” school at post, but we didn’t realize quite how alternative it would be. Come to find out, while everyone at the school speaks English, and many of the teachers and administrators are native English speakers,  the Teenager is the sole American in the high school, and one of only two kids in his grade who speaks English as a native language (the other one is half-British half-Austrian, so bilingual). The social language among all the kids at the school is German.

This sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, doesn’t it?

But, the Teenager doesn’t mind!  In fact, he seems to find it interesting. He had about a year of German (which he flunked) in middle school, and he’s been more than willing to use it. He says that he can already kind of understand what the other kids are talking about, and he’s sure he’ll pick it up quickly (!) He says the kids seem more “mature” than the kids at his old school, which he now says “kind of sucked.”

He really likes the school, not despite the fact that it is different from his old school, but because of it.

I know that this is amazingly adaptable for a 15 year old. Oh sure, people toss their younger kids into the deep end all the time and just assume they’ll pick up a language, but teenagers? Are you kidding me? And this teenager? Mister I Can’t Eat That Because It Might Have a Raisin In It Somewhere?

His dad and I have been completely surprised, by this, and of course, absolutely delighted.

It just goes to show, you never can tell. Never.


  1. i agree with him on the jeans. To stiff and uncomfortable. I succeeded in not wearing them until I went to a school where horseback riding was part of the curriculum, at age 12. Even now, I have succeeded in spending the whole summer not wearing shorts of any type. Just skirts, yoga pants, and other soft trousers.


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