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It's offical...he's now a real teenager

Tio went to the movies today with a group of friends. I ended up being in town when it ended so I dropped by the theater to see who needed a ride home. The gang of six was gathered in the lobby. Tio ran back to get his coat and I tried to find out how they were getting home and if I could help. They looked like a herd of deer caught in the headlights. Not one of them would say a word. I knew the two boys well enough and said hello to no avail. One of them stood with his skinny hand around his skinny girlfriend, their mouths gaping like I'd just offered to run them over with my car. This was a boy who is usually so talkative that you forget he's only 13. Not a word.

"Hello?" I said, "We all speak English here don't we? Can one of you say something?"
A couple of gutteral murmurs croaked out. Nothing coherent.

Tio returned, looked at his shuffling companions, dropped his eyes and joined in like he was suddenly possessed by a zombie. He, too, would not answer me. Finally, he mumbled that they were okay and everyone had a ride. So I left.

While starting the car, Tio ran up and got in. He needed a ride home. He found his voice and all was normal again. Thank god the pod people released him back to me. It would have been tragic if we'd lost him forever.

It occured to me that he just came down with a raging case "Teenage Parental Embarrassment Syndrome" in front of his friends - the girls in particular. I am no longer cool to him, I'm now a liability. Oh, he'll be happy to take rides from me, borrow money, talk to me in a normal way when we're in private (he made a bundle of weak excuses for himself later) and hope I'll cheer for him in the bleachers. But just do it out of sight, will you, Gramps?

I'd been through it when his father hit his teens, but forgot how suddenly it strikes. First, I lost most of my IQ in his eyes about a year ago, now I'm a pariah if seen anywhere near his friends. The syndrome will fade with age and so doesn't need treatment. I'll return to being a normal human in about 5 years.

I can only hope that he behaves like one sooner than that.