Rule #80: Ban All Forms of Acne Medication

in Rules of Parenting

THEY will learn to adapt. YOU won't have to wait up on Friday nights.

The dull pain, hovering below your skin like teenage heartache itself, began around 3 p.m.

By 5, a mere hour before you were to pick up your date, the missile penetrated and expanded your pores in a flame of shame.

That’s right, you possessed—like some kind of suburban booby prize—a mammoth zit with a fury and size that only teenagers can experience.

And it didn’t really matter where the beast presented itself. Chin, forehead, nose, ear lobe (and underrated spot that rendered earrings impossible), temple, upper lip, lower lip, cheek bone or just above the eyebrow, as if you’d gone 18 rounds with a prize fighter.

While the agony of these events are too numerous to recall with any type of clarity, there’s something you got out of these ghastly experiences of facial disobedience: they built character.

Yes, let us repeat it: Acne produced humility, which, in turn, produced the type of stoicism that cannot be obtained with a spotless face.

We realize that you probably used an Oxy or Clearasil product, and we also realize that those products were mocked by your zits. They never worked and merely acted as icing on the pimple cake.

Unlike you, your teenager doesn’t have to use the Oxy or Clearasil placebos, because there are numerous medications on the market that actually clear up a teenager’s face.

We say these are bad ideas and will never allow your teen to feel the shame, embarrassment and bitterness of discovering a zit that will alter the course of his day and force him to assume the head-down, hair-in-face posture so prevalent before these so-called miracle medications ruined everything.

Your child will put up a fight for the good stuff, but with effective dialogue, you can combat his or her lobbying:

Bobby: Mom, maybe you’ve noticed, but I have lots of red marks on my face, and they’re making me uncomfortable.

You (casually examining his face): Hmm. Looks like you got into a fight with the feral cat from the woods again, that’s all. It’ll scab up and heal in no time.

Bobby: Actually, mom, what I have is acne. I’ve seen it a couple times before—mostly in your yearbook photos.

You: Acne? No, that’s crazy. Not you. Your skin is gorgeous. Just a little mottled right now because of that cat. I’ll have your father shoot it next time it comes begging for leftover funnel cake.

Bobby: Mom, I have zits! Look at me. I’m a ghoul. I’m having a hard time with them, like, I can’t look people in the eye because I know they’re looking at my zits. I won’t even get a date for homecoming. There’s this stuff called Proactiv. It’s supposed to clear up zits overnight.

You: Come on, Bobby. You know your father and I can’t afford fancy medicine like that.

Bobby: But you just had a, um—your chest got bigger all of a sudden.

You: That’s different. Mommy wasn’t feeling confident, and your father suggested we could do something about it before the two of us go to the Caribbean this fall.

Bobby: That must have cost some money. I want to be confident, too.

You: You will be, just as soon as you learn to stay away from feral cats. Lesson learned, Bobby, lesson learned.

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