Teenagers Make Me Mental: A Short Play

Have you ever felt like a total imposter? I have, so very many times in my life. I start a new job, feeling totally under-qualified, and pretend I know what I’m doing and hope nobody finds out how inadequate I am. It was even worse when I first became a mother: terrified, I’d make up rules that seemed completely arbitrary, and then second-guess myself about whether it’s the right way to parent. I’m always confused about what I should crack down on and what I should allow, and the line seems to be constantly shifting. And when I think I have a handle on motherhood, the kids get to a new stage and all the rules change again. 

For example, my teenage kids seem so adult all of a sudden. I sometimes feel like they should be parenting me; I think it’s because they’re so smart that I often feel out of my league. The mental energy it takes to be around them is sometimes beyond me – in fact, sometimes life with teens feels more exhausting than life with toddlers…but it can be awfully fun, too. I dedicate this short play to mothers of teens everywhere. Congratulate yourself on your efforts to keep up with them: you’re in the process of raising wonderful adults.

Characters: My kids (Lizzie, 15, and Mike, 13), and Mike’s friend Jim (also 13)

Act I. Driving

Mike: The Coke that’s made in Mexico is made with real cane sugar.

Jim: We went to that restaurant The Melt. Their soda is made with real cane sugar.

Mike: Also, Coke used to be made from real cocaine. The Coke in Mexico still is.

Liz: No, it’s not.

Mike: Liz, can I borrow your combat boots?

Liz: No. You’d look like a loser.

Mike: Thanks.

Jim: I had a sandwich: macaroni and cheese with bacon. It’s their fan favorite. 

Me: I went there once but left because I wanted a Diet Pepsi, not “cane cola.” I would have stayed if I knew they served macaroni and cheese. 

Jim: This is why we don’t discriminate, kids.

Mike: I like McDonald’s better than macaroni and cheese.

Liz: I don’t like anything better than macaroni and cheese.

Act II. At Ulta

Jim: Mike, we should have stayed in the car. 

Me: Why?

Jim: This is a girl place. I can feel them judging us already.

Mike: Can we go to McDonald’s?

Liz: This is the best lip gloss. 

Mike: How can a lip gloss be “the best?” Aren’t they all the same?

Liz: Mom, I’m stuck.

Me: Liz, how did you manage that? Wait, don’t knock anything over! Turn sideways.

Mike: Did you hear my question?

Liz: Can I get this lip gloss?

Me: No.

Mike: Mom? Did you hear me?

Me: No. All lip glosses are not the same.

Mike: Not that question.

Liz: Mom, help.

Jim: Now they’re really judging us.

Act III. Back in the car

Liz: [singing] I’m still a lady but I dance like a ‘ho. 

Michael: It’s true, Mom. She does.

Me: Great.

Mike: Can we go to McDonald’s?

Me: We have food in the house.

Mike: That’s not what I asked.

Liz: This song’s my jam.

Mike: I had jam on my sandwich.

Jim: You threw your sandwich away.

Mike: Mom, that’s not true, I swear.

Act. IV. In Hobby Lobby

Liz: Jim won’t let me get a giant light-up pig.

Me: He is correct. You are not getting a giant light-up pig.

Liz: But Mom, wait! It’s also a chalk board!

Mike: Can we go to McDonald’s?

Liz: It’s so cute!

Me: No chalk board. No McDonald’sWe’re having leftover spaghetti and meatballs.

Liz: I don’t eat meatballs.

Mike: I don’t eat leftovers.

Jim: I eat both. Wait, am I staying for dinner?


Act V. At Sephora/JC Penney

Jim: That foundation is way too dark for you.

Liz: How do you even know what foundation is? And no, it’s not. 

Jim: You’re much paler than that.

Mike: Yeah, dude, you should see her when she’s wearing dark red lipstick. She looks straight-up like a vampire.

Liz: The lower half of my face is really cute.

Mike: I just really like McDonald’s.

Me: OK, who reeks?

Jim: Michael sprayed perfume in my eye. Now I’m going to get eye cancer.

Mike: My choir teacher has that.

Me: Eye cancer? 

Mike: Yeah, she had something in her eye the other day.

Jim: Wait, is eye cancer a thing?

Michael: Yeah, fam, you can get cancer anywhere.

Me: Fam?

Jim: You mean I can get cancer of the TOE?

Michael: Mom refuses to buy me cologne.

Me: I do?

Mike: Once, we were in Bath & Body Works and I wanted some cologne, and you wouldn’t buy it for me.

Me: I guess we weren’t in the market for men’s cologne that day.

Mike: That’s what I said. You refuse to buy it for me.

Jim: We have bigger things to worry about right now, Mike. I have cancer of the toe! Wait, why were you in Bath & Body Works?

Mike: Because my sister is a girl. Can we go to McDonald’s?

Jim: The men’s department is like a bird next to a giraffe.

Me: Um, what?

Mike: Yeah, totally.

Act VI. In the McDonald’s drive through

Liz: Mike, sit down!

Jim: Please return to your seat, sir.

Me: Wait. Is this song Squeeze?

Liz: Squeeze me.

Me: No, the band. Squeeze.

Jim: You need a hug?

Mike: Who needs a hug?

Jim: Your mom.

Me: I don’t need a hug.

Liz: Then why are you talking about squeezing people?

Me: The band, dammit!

Mike: Why does the band need a hug?

Jim: Sir, please return to your seat.

Mike: I’m not sitting down until someone here gets a damn hug.

Liz: I just want some lemonade.

Me: They don’t have lemonade. 

Liz: We should have gone to Chik-Fil-A

Jim: I love that place.

Mike: You better only be eating French fries out of one of those boxes.
Jim: I’m only eating the ones on the left.

Mike: OK, then.

Jim: Mike, I’m gonna be straight-up honest with you. I ate one fry out of the right, but that’s only because it was hanging off the edge and it looked tempting. I’ll put one back in your box.

Mike: Hey, thanks for the McDonald’s, Mom.

Jim: Yeah, thanks, Mom.

Liz: Can we get Chik-Fil-A?

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One thought on “Teenagers Make Me Mental: A Short Play

  1. Anonymous

    You crack me up! I was always told that if you want to know what your kiddos are up to, be their chauffeur & listen to them because they forget you’re in the car. Yeah, right. That’s when I had to implement the NO WHISPERING in the car rule. Just think…at 15 & 13 you’ll be done with the teenage years soon. Some of us thought we should just d.r.a.g. those years out forever. Our kids are now 32, 26, & 19. We thought having 3 kids in 3 different decades was a cool idea! Our youngest turns 20 soon…yay, no more teenagers! But G says he’s going to be a teenager until he turns 21. Who writes these ever changing rules?

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