What Teenagers Do Behind Closed Doors

If there’s one thing you parents of young children should know about what happens when they become teenagers, it’s that their bedroom door will often be closed.

(Technically there’s more than one thing you should know but let’s just tackle this one for today.)

It’s all a part of their asserting independence and wanting real privacy, even though “real privacy”–in my family, anyway–isn’t scheduled to happen for the offspring until they are living on their own. For teens, closing the door can make circumstances more forgivable to play music really loudly, easier to have a quiet phone call after it is technically allowed, conducive to an illicit afternoon nap when there are still chores to be done, and of course, better for wrapping gifts for their loving parents.

Although it was a really, really long time ago, I remember being a teenager. Closing my door meant that I could keep my sister out (well, sort of) (and, sorry Julie), I could quietly–and secretly, since I was supposed to be sleeping–watch “Saturday Night Live” on the little black and white tv I had in there, and I could have private phone conversations (on a corded phone, you know) with friends for HOURS, usually starting right after I got home from being with them all day at school.

J closes his door the majority of the time. While it drives me a little crazy, I get it. Even though Jim and I have always made it clear that the boys’ rooms are fair game for us to enter at any time, we provide the common courtesy of knocking on the door and waiting for an answer before going in. (Sometimes actually, we don’t get an answer, and that’s because on rare occasions when J has a few hours, he’ll go up there, close the door, and take an afternoon nap–yes, even when there are still chores to be done: he’s so busy I don’t like to give him too hard a time about it.)

Usually when he’s up there, he’s reading, playing guitar, mixing tracks on his DJ equipment, talking on the phone to his girlfriend, doing homework (during the school year, of course), or just hanging out and listening to music.

Yesterday, that was not the case. I had to leave for a class and when I went up to say goodbye, the beats of rap music–a genre he’s recently become interested in: most notably 90s rap/hip-hop–pounding through his door. I knocked loudly.

“Yes?” he said.

I opened the door and was shocked to find him doing something I never expected.

“What are you doing????” I asked.

He was sitting on his bed with a t-shirt in one hand and a threaded needle in the other.

“Oh,” he answered, “just mending some of my clothes. See, I took the tag out of this t-shirt and accidentally left a small hole. I’m fixing that, and then I have this pair of shorts (one of his favorites) that has a rip in it.”

As he finished his sentence he looked back down to the task at hand.

I was amazed. And surprised. And proud.

And thrilled that he had taken a Family and Consumer Sciences class that included a sewing unit, back in middle school.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a “to be mended” clothing pile somewhere that I need to retrieve and put it in a different room, if you know what I mean.