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Calling all teenagers

Rick Ryckeley's picture

For all the parents out there who think teenagers don’t listen to a word you say, you’re right – they don’t. For all the teenagers out there who think parents don’t understand anything you say, you’re right also. So if parents and teenagers don’t listen to each other, who should they listen to? Why, the old guy who writes the newspaper column, of course.

Last Friday, The wife and I ventured out to a local restaurant for a rare date night. This was fortunate for me for two reasons: time with The Wife is always enjoyable and I didn’t have a topic for this week’s column. Now I do.

From the heated conversation at the next table, it seems the ageless battles of the teenage years are alive and well. So for all you parents out there who are frustrated after hours of talking about manners, careers, and saving for retirement to the brick wall called a teenager, I have but one word for you – stop. Instead, just have your teenager read this column.

First lesson: All teenagers have two choices. Go to college or get a job. This means being out in the world like the rest of us – not still living in the bedroom you’ve occupied since you were 6.

And while we’re at it, looks do matter. Sorry, arms full of tattoos or a face that looks like you just fell into a tackle box doesn’t help to land a high-paying occupation — unless, of course, you want to be employed in a tackle shop or circus, in which case you’re well on your way to being employee of the month.

Second lesson: You say you’re looking forward to having no more rules? That soon you’ll be out from under the oppressive thumb of your parents? You’ll be on your own and finally able to do whatever you want?

Wrong. I’m almost 55, and I’ve been following someone else’s rules all my life. Dad’s 85 and says there are rules he still has to obey. Following someone else’s rules – just get used to it.

Third lesson: Want to live the good life one day and travel the world? This is some of the best advice I can give you — start now.

Before you get married, have kids, and a mortgage, pay yourself first. For every dollar you earn doing anything, put 25 cents away in a retirement account. There’s no magic to it. It’s just that simple.

If you start now, by the time you reach age 55, you’ll be able to retire and travel the world. Don’t do it, and you’ll be working the rest of your life following someone else’s rules. Trust me on this one.

Fourth and final lesson: marriage. Over the years looks will fade, health problems will surely arise, and riches will come and go. If you marry, make sure the person has a good sense of humor and a positive outlook. Both characteristics will help you deal with the curve balls life will throw your way.

Take it from me: The Wife has enriched my life beyond my wildest dreams. Her humor has made health problems not seem as bad.

Unfortunately, the loss of my hair she can do nothing about. Lucky for me, her eyesight is now fading.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, is in his third decade as a firefighter and has been a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is His books are available at]

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