By Joe Rector

A teenager invaded our house for the last few days. Grandson Madden was unceremoniously dumped here while his parents took a trip to Asheville. Having a 13-year-old boy in the house sure brought back plenty of memories, some that might later in the week cause me to wake up screaming from a nightmare.

I’m biased, but Madden is a good kid. Still, he’s thirteen, and puberty continuously rockets all sorts of hormones and other things through his body. Just like his mother and uncle before him, he possesses the ability to act completely bored by everything in this world. We asked if there were things he’d like to do; his response was ‘’m-M-m,” or in English, “I don’t know.” However, any adult suggestion for an activity received that teen look with a furrowed brow, scrunched nose, and wide eyes that wonder if the older person has lost his ability to reason.

Without any other suggestions, I dragged him from his bed early the first day and took him with me to work out. I discovered that Madden had recently started working out with his parents. His exercises and mine were similar. At some point, he finished and hopped on a treadmill to walk and run. I was proud to have him with me.

Later in the day, Amy joined us, and we went to the movies. Our goal was to enjoy being served food as we watched the show, but the service was more than a little weak, and Amy and Madden realized that they like to have some light on the food they eat. Madden walked around the theater since we were the only people attending. I told him that I’d rented the entire place for him. His suspicious stare let me know he in no way believed the lie I was pushing.

The second day was slightly worse for a teen at his grandparents’ house. The rain canceled any outdoor plans, so we traveled to the Knoxville Museum of Art. Lacey had already told us that Madden was no fan of such places, but Amy must have forgotten. The boy and I looked at abstract pieces and decided we had no idea what they meant. Standing before one piece of work, Madden announced that it looked like what he had done in second grade when he cut pictures from magazines and glued them on a piece of paper.

On the way home, we drove through the UT campus. Madden began bragging about the superiority of Florida’s athletics programs and education. Dallas had done the same kind of thing when he told me Charles Woodson deserved the Heisman, not Peyton. Before long, Madden had pushed all my buttons until I told him that he had gone far enough. I knew he was teasing, just as Dallas had done all those years ago, but the effect was identical. I was the slightest bit chapped.

We watched movies and shows at night, and Madden hung right in there with us. On the last night, he went to his room early to play some video games. I heard him talking and laughing, and those sounds let me know he hadn’t suffered completely at our house. I loved the laughter that brought smiles to Amy and me as we remembered Dallas and Lacey at that age.

Madden left for home about three hours ago. I miss him. I miss the times when he was a little guy and we played Thomas the Train and dinosaurs. Parents and grandparents watched him play soccer and T-ball. I miss the talking and teasing and joking that we do now. Madden is a champion at arguing, and I’m glad that Lacey and Nick are the ones who must enforce the rules in the next few years. Now, Madden is the age when I like young people the best. It’s fun to mess with them and have them do the same with you.

I’m grateful to have such a loving grandson; I’m lucky to be able to spend some time with him; if I’m lucky, I might be able to pass on some words of wisdom or at least some bits of humor. This teenager invasion is one I always welcome.