I found out the hard way last week that I’m a selfish, loner who has more rules than she thinks. I also found out – I’m fine with that. But it’s good to shake things up. The request was simple enough – host my British cousin’s 17 year old son for a week. Done. How hard could that be? I’m cool. I’m happening. I’m on Instagram and Twitter. I know what “ratchet” means. (Well I do now after someone cooler than me told me.) But I’m also 53 and the one thing I know about this age is – I’m about as bendy as a plank of wood. Joe arrived on Saturday from London. How was his flight? Hideous. Some idiot spilled a drink all over him and he had to wear a blanket like a kilt for the entire flight while his pants dried. I laughed out loud. This kid was funny. He was not amused. I forgot how important stuff was to me as a teen. All stuff. Especially my stuff. We went home. I fed him a delicious dinner of chips and salsa. Didn’t he want an actual meal? Nope he was fine. He went to bed. He warned me that he had a hard time waking up. He told me his parents try everything to get him to go to school. I was determined to change this. I made so much noise the next morning – a deaf person would have heard me. Joe didn’t. I went out and ran a bunch of errands. This was my life when I dated young guys. They’re like cave dwellers. They hibernate and can sleep forever. I came home at noon. Joe was still sleeping. I found myself saying – “you can’t sleep the whole day away.” God I’d kill to be able to sleep like this. I quietly knocked on the guest room door. When I cracked it open I almost passed out. How could one skinny kid do so much damage in just one night? It was like a tornado tore through the lower floor of my house while I was sleeping. I stopped myself from telling Joe to clean his room. I told him I wouldn’t say a thing about it as long as he kept the damage behind the closed door. I told the cleaning lady to skip that room for a week. She probably would have thought I was robbed. Every day I woke Joe up became increasingly difficult. I was tapping my nails on the counter longer each day. I found myself yelling – “If you’re not out in two minutes Im leaving you here.” But he’d always pull it together. Later each day, but always just on time enough. He was quite proud of this. Joe came to work with me every day for a week. He would sit in the car and change the radio dial every thirteen seconds. It was small attention span theater – the Prius edition. I stopped myself from yelling “please pick something and leave the radio alone.” We would pack up some healthy snacks for him to eat and he would come home every day with random snacks he took from the craft services table. He couldn’t believe all that stuff was free and just sitting there. I found myself telling him he needed to eat a full meal and I’d ask him everyday if he had something other than chips for lunch. He took pictures of the craft table and sent it to his friends. He sat in the writer’s room where I told him not to speak. He spoke. He actually pitched jokes. I threatened his life. He went to rehearsals with the actors where I told him to watch quietly. He didn’t. He actually pranked our Assistant Director by hiding in his podium and scaring him. Joe made himself known at work. He talked to anyone and everyone. He wasn’t shy. He made friends with the actors and random stars he found walking around the lot. Joe was invited to a Halloween party. He had to get a particular costume. It was dire. He needed to know what time it started and who would be there. Teenagers ask a lot of questions. I sent him home on the plane in the giraffe costume he got for Halloween. By the time he left I was exhausted. I haven’t had to think that much outside of work in years. But I was also grateful. Joe made me remember what being a teenager is. Alive. Thinking. Curious. And what I am threatened with becoming. Tired. Cranky. Whatever. Joe was a crash course in the beauty of life – which is interesting since he – like most teenagers – thinks the future is a disaster and what’s the point of living. But he does live – and quite vividly. He is unafraid. He is funny. He is smart. He is enjoying life one day at a time. He is making his presence known before some adult like me beats it out of him by telling him you don’t get what you want. Joe had the time of his life. And so did I. I’m trying to be more like him. I even bought a leopard onesie. I’m thinking I could start a business for old farts like me who are too settled in their lives. Rent-A-Joe. If anyone’s interested… please inquire.