Parent to Teen Dictionary

As summer has moved on and I have spent more time with my sons I have come to better understand the communication difficulties that plague parents and their t(w)eens.  Many of our miscommunications occur simply because my boys and I have different definitions of words and phrases.  In an attempt to improve communication between the parents of the world and their t(w)eens, I have done my best to provide a list of parent phrases and how they are defined by children according to Webster’s Teen Dictionary (WTD).  Let us begin:

“Immediately”

WTD: At your earliest convenience. See also; When your Fortnite battle has concluded

“Literally”

WTD When used by teen: used to stress importance.  For example, “I am literally the only person in my school without unlimited X-Box time.”

WTD When used by parent:  Maybe they mean it, maybe they do no not. Example. “This is literally your job and your job alone” translates to “It would nice if you did it, but someone else will probably take care of it if you do not get to it.”

“Consistently”

WTD: Frequently enough to avoid getting caught by random spot-checks

“Turn off the video game at 9:30:”

WTD: Make sure to start a new game at 9:28 and I will gladly listen to your complaints about not being allowed to “finish this game up.”

“Do this task to a quality you will be proud of:”

WTD: Since you literally do not care at all about this task and pride will only come by completion, you need to complete this as quickly as possible with complete disregard for quality.  Oh wait, you do undestand how to use “literally” correctly. You better keep that quiet.

This phone is to communicate with us.”

WTD: Use this phone to know instantly when any of your friends are online and available for gaming. Please disregard any texts from us.

“In the Dishwasher:”

WTD: Within 100 meters of the dishwasher

“Judging:”

WTD: To limit what you want to do; To be held responsible; To define right vs wrong.  Example, “That half-completed homework is fine. You can’t judge me for that!”

“I just need a little break”

WTD: You should increase the intensity and frequency of your demands so that I cave in quicker and can get a little peace after you get what you want.

“I need you to take this seriously:”

WTD: Focus really hard for 9-13 seconds and move one.

“Clean up:”

WTD: Push everything to the side of a room, go to your bedroom and begin the sacred ritual to invoke the Spirit of Cleaning (aka, someone else)

“Without Complaint:”

WTD: As long as you do not verbally complain you are fine. Feel free to roll eyes, sigh in exasperation, scowl, shrug your shoulders, and stamp your feet. As long as you do not complain with sentences, I will be happy.

“We leave in 15 minutes:”

WTD: In 14 minutes and 59.76 seconds, you should begin to consider what you need to have ready before we leave. 0.24 seconds is plenty of time to get dressed, eat breakfast and pack.

“Gimme one second:”

WTD. You should wait one literal second before repeating that exact same question. Oh crap! There’s that “literal” term again!

“We need to set some rules….”

WTD: Prepare thyself for the Shackles of Injustice

I hope that I have provided all of you with a useful tool that will help you communicate better with your loved ones this summer.

**Disclaimer:  I am sure that I will hear about how I have now “Teen-Shamed” my kids, perpetuated negative stereotypes about about teens, marginalized the efforts of those heroes devoted to writing real dictionaries or have broken any number of  number of known or unknown, social mores.  The fact is, I have two incredible young men of whom I am extremely proud.  This is meant simply as a chance to laugh at parenting and have a little fun with it.  If I have I offended in any way, shape, or form, I literally (WTD) offer my most sincere and heartfelt apologies.

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Real parenting milestones

You always hear about the cute little milestones.  First steps, first words, first tooth falling out, first haircut, first time going to school.  These moments are supposed to be so magical, but I am going to be honest with you.  All the little Hallmark milestones are nice but they have not elicited the biggest emotional responses out of me.  Let me break down the real parenting milestones.  The milestones that actually elicit the biggest emotional responses. Some good, some bad, but these are the important ones.

First Day without the Diaper Bag

More than any other day, this day brought a tear to my eye.  The first time you can yell into the other room, “Hey boys, we gotta go” and then simply walk out of the house is the single most liberating moment of parenting.  No more hoisting a 75 lb diaper bag onto your shoulder. No more checking their shoes.  No more wondering if you restocked that bag with back-up underwear, wipes, flares, or snacks.  No more wrestling the boys into the car seat.  No more pinning down the flailing little monster with 17 layers of coats while you desperately try to fasten a 5-pt harness onto what looks like a writhing mini-Michelin Man. No more trudging into the snow looking like a Sherpa.  The day when the time between announcing that it’s time to leave and putting the key in the ignition is under 37 minutes has been the greatest day of my parenting career.

“Dad, don’t put it into reverse until I buckle my own seat and you stop crying?”

“I’m sorry son. I’m just so happy.”

First time ordering off of Adult Menu

This one just sucks.  “Dad, I don’t want a mini grilled-cheese with apple slices and a plastic cup of juice.  I want the Bomb-Burger with fries and a Coke with refills!”

This milestone is not sad because you realize that your son is becoming a young man.  There is no moment when you sadly look at the boy before you and see a pudgy little baby cramming Puffs and Cheerios into his mouth. You do not flash back to a tiny infant drinking 6 oz of milk, belching and falling into a bloated, post-meal coma.

What you see is your bill tripling.  What you see is the waitress carrying away about a third of that Bomb-Burger because your little glutton power chugged 40 oz of carbonated sugar before the meal even showed up.  You are sad because you know you are going to be eating out far less.

Toileting

Obviously, when the kid starts using the toilet there are a million obvious pluses.  Obviously, you are done with diapers. You are done with wiping stinky butts.  The diaper bag shrinks or disappears.  Your hands are not longer chafed from the constant washing after handling wet underwear.  There is no longer that hint of “used-diaper” smell that has always lingered in your house.

Here is the real pay-off.  You no longer shackled to a littler person’s excretory system.

“Dad, I need to use the potty.”

“Yup. Better do something about that.  Hey, when you’re done, why don’t you grab me on of those Girl Scout Tagalongs on your way back?”  Pure magic.

First sleep-over

Yes, your child is growing up.  Yes, this is a new level of independence.  Maybe some people are even a little sad that the child no longer needs them quite as much.

But you get to have sex again! And foreplay does not involve the phrase, “Do you think they are asleep?”  You do not have to sneak into each room to double check that they are deep into the REM phase of sleep. You do not have lock your door and set so many security cautions that even semi-sane Tom Cruise from Mission Impossible can not drop in.

True the ultra-erotic bedroom banter of “Wait..Shhh.. shhh.. be quiet! Do you hear Ben?” ends.  You do have to live without my personal favorite, “Don’t move.  I’m serious. DON’T MOVE! Maybe he’ll just flush, wash his hands and go right back to bed. Steady… steaaaaady.. I think he’s almost back in his room… Hooold.. Hooooold… I think he just closed his door…Hey! wake-up!” but it is so worth it.

I got my fist speeding ticket after dropping my boys off at their sleep-over.

First Time Watching Awesome Movies

I had no problem living through years of animated movies and TV shows when the biggest danger was that maybe, just maybe, Daisy wouldn’t be able to finish Goofy’s birthday before the surprise party. Will the Wiggles eat their fruit salad? Will the Imagination Movers finally not be able to brainstorm an idea to get Warehouse Mouse his cheese? Will a Higglytown Hero please just save the day! I’m fine with that.

However, it’s a very special day when you can sit down as a family and watch a Hobbit slog across Middle-Earth for over nine hours without fast-forwarding, editing or trying to explain that those forty arrows probably just tickled Baromir. No son, he’s dead. In fact, every time you ever see Sean Bean, you can just start preparing yourself that he’s going to die. Cows kill Sean Bean.

 

The expansion of movies that we can now watch produces sentimental, deep conversations such as…

“Dad, Aragon just chopped that orc’s head off!  That was awesome. Why are you crying again?”

“Come here and hug your dad.”

I’m not stupid. My boys are not watching anything related to Westeros and I have limits, but being able to watch a show that we all enjoy is an incredible parenting milestone.

“Dad. Are the clones good or bad? I mean, they help the Jedi, but they will eventually be Stormtroopers and they are bad, so are they good, bad, or just do what they are told?”

“Sshhh, little one.  Yoda is about to lay the hurt on Dooku. This is going to be awesome because for years I have carefully planned out the correct order to show you these movies so that when you eventually suffered through these prequels, you would find these next forty-five seconds amazing. Why?

Because I know what the important moments really are.”

THE Day

It was not supposed to go down like this.  There is a bead of sweat rolling down the side of my face as I realize I have made a terrible mistake from which I am not sure I can recover. Staring across the ping-pong table from me is a grim-faced eleven-year old boy who is flexing his knees and taking every shot seriously now.  He thinks today is going to be the day.  He thinks today is the day he takes down his old man.  I have always let him stay close before pulling it out at the end but today I regret that. I have intentionally flubbed a bunch of shots but a few errors on my part (and great shots on his) has left me three points from losing.  He thinks today is the day.

“They” say the happiest and saddest day in every boy’s life is the day that he realize he can beat his father. Video games do not count. It is the day a boy can beat his father at some physical activity.  It is the happiest day because the boy realizes that he is growing up and becoming a man.  However, at the same time the boy suddenly has to face the fact that his dad is not a mythical, invincible deity, but simply a man. A man who is starting to lose the fight with Father Time.  Essentially, the boy kills his hero.

I vividly remember my day. In middle school, I was fast. I was very fast. At an extended family gathering, I mentioned this and my dad made some comment about keeping me in my place.  Not thinking he would ever accept, I challenged him to a race. To my shock, he accepted and my aunts and uncles, and cousins, and grandparents all headed out to the street to watch.  I trudged through the yard already embarrassed because I knew there was no way I could beat my dad. I just never thought he would accept the challenge and now I was going to look dumb. My mom even pulled me aside and said, “Why are you doing this? You know you can’t win. You’re still a boy.”  I knew she was right and I knew that I had put myself in position that I was going to be hearing about for a long time.

At the start line, my dad looked down at me and said, “We are only doing this once. This is you’re only shot. No excuses” I nodded and got ready.  My entire family was out there and my uncle started the countdown.  “On your mark.”  Deep breath.  “Get Set…..” and my old man cheated. He was three strides down the street before I realized I had to move. This was my one shot and I started from behind.

I remember going as hard as I could. I also remember feeling a bit puzzled at how quickly I made up the “head-start.” I was surprised at the half-way point when  I was a couple strides ahead of him and feeling like I had not really even hit my stride. I was in a little disbelief by how much I won by and how I eased up a little at the end because it did not feel right.  Later, I snuck back out there and stared at the street. I was elated because I knew I could out-run grown men and I had beaten my dad. At the same time, there was an odd sense of disappointment and general weirdness. I was too young to put words on it, but later I realized it was the sadness “they ” say every boy feels when he beats his dad. Sad that his hero is really just a man who is starting to get older.

And now Ben thinks today is the day.  I can see it in his eyes. He is not jabbering about Pokemon anymore.  He is not talking about soccer. He has stopped trying to do fancy shots.  The only smile I see is the smile he is desperately fighting to stifle every time he scores. Ben thinks he is three points away from something special.

I know it’s not the day because I have intentionally let him stay close and then made some mistakes. It still takes effort to make the game close without making it obvious that I am tanking.   However, he does not know this. The scoreboard does not know this. The scoreboard says the day is three points away.

I know the day is coming. It is inevitable.  I will feel proud and a little sad.  He will be elated with a weird feeling he can not pin-point.  When that day comes, I want it to be real. For him and me.

I have three points left to make sure I push the day back. Fortunately, Ben is eleven-years-old and is starting to choke. All I have to do is keep the ball on the table and he screws up two points.  On the third point, I put a ton of backspin on my shot and watch his little dreams crumble as he bashes the ball into the net.

He drops his paddle, falls to his knees with a huge smile and yells, “Nooo!”  Ben gets to his feet laughing and gives me a huge hug.  “Dad! I almost beat you!  I thought I was really going to do it today!”

“Yeah buddy. It was close!  You will get me some day.  Today is just not the day.”

The day?”

“Don’t worry about it. You’ll know it when it gets here.”

**Addendum:.  My dad read this blog and recalls our race.  He told me today that he knew the only way he stood a chance was by cheating.

*as always, feel free to hit that “follow” button on the right or share this

Lying to my Kids

I think every parent strives to be truthful and transparent with their children. At least that is what we say. Truth be told, any real parent delicately sprinkles in a healthy dose of lies to their children. It is kind of like trying to sneak vegetables into their food. Sometimes it is just easier. Below are some of the bold-faced lies I tell my kids.

Lie: Go ahead, Ben. Take the last piece of bacon. I would rather you have it.
Truth: I want that bacon. Sometimes when you are cleaning up every bit of food on the table and I walk away hungry, I wish you still ate out of jars. Wild animals have it down. The alpha gets all the bacon he wants and the cubs get what is left. I am still the alpha but I am stuck here watching you inhale all the bacon and acting like I am happy about it. Lies.

Lie: I really have no idea what happened to your Halloween/Easter/Christmas candy.
Truth: For years I actually told you that evaporation and erosion were the causes of your depleted candy caches. However, you are older and wiser now. You no longer buy that line. At least now, I can just blame it on your mother and you accept it.

Lie: Knock that garbage off or there will be no movie night or extra video game time.
Truth: Nothing short of murder is going to cancel those events. Those hours of electronic babysitting are probably more important to me than they are to you. If the digital respite gets cancelled, I bet that I would be shedding more tears than anyone else in the house. Cancellation of those events is more of a punishment to me than anyone else.

Lie: I was just taking a nap.

Lie: You’re right, this show is awesome!
Truth: Most of your shows are crap. You are older now, so getting to watch movies and shows that are actually cool (Avengers, Star Wars, etc) saves me. However, do you remember when I told you that “Walking with Dinosaurs” rocked? Remember how I said that the 17th viewing of the Curious George movie was just as good as the first? Doodlebops, Planes, Thomas, the Yogi Bear movie, and any DVD that came with a toy? Cinematic Lobotomies.

Lie: Mom and I will talk about it.
Truth: The answer is “No” and that is not going to change. I mean, mom and I will laugh about it later, but that is the extent of consideration this idea is going to get.

Lie: Just smile. I won’t put this on Facebook.
Truth: I am going to get sooooo many “likes” for this!

Lie: You are just going to have to trust that I know best.
Truth: I am an idiot. I am stumbling through this whole parenting thing like a frat boy at Mardi Gras. I have absolutely no clue what I am doing. Do I know what’s best? Probably not. Honestly, I am just trying to not mess you up to much.

Lie: I have no idea what those rabbits in the yard are doing.
Truth: Lucky rabbits. I know exactly what’s up. Hope you’re having fun while I am sitting in here watching Rugrats. Rabbits get Easter, Trix, Jessica Rabbit, front-yard follies, and a whole series of Loony Tunes adventures and I am cleaning up Cheerios.

Let us be honest. When it comes to our kids, most of us are pathological liars. Want a real truth?

Lie: Sometimes those lies bother me.
Truth: I’m totally cool with it.

Spring Break has NOT changed….

You know, Spring Break really has not changed much since I was in college. With a few minor differences, my Spring Break is pretty much the same as when I was tearing it up on South Padre Island (insert increasingly large number) of years ago. You can see, not much has changed.

1. I am still dealing with hangovers. Granted, it used to be because I had spent the night dancing with a $5 fifth of vodka that came in a plastic bottle, but I have to tell you, my current hangover caused by a lethal combination of Peeps and Cadbury Eggs is no joke.

2. Sunrises. I still see them. Of course, I used to see the sun come up as I tried to figure out where my hotel was and how I was going to get back there. This morning’s sunrise was brought to me by James bounding down the stairs and turning on Phineas and Ferb at an unreasonable volume. Same thing.

3. Bracelets. The Spring Break Badge of honor. The plastic bling that shows just how many clubs or bars you could get into. The goal was to have your wrists look like a neon version of Mr. T. I still got it. My boys and I are currently sporting bands from Chuck E. Cheese, Jungle Joe’s and various other hot spots. I pity the fool who could not get into Sky-Zone.

4. Fake IDs. You always let your friends with the fakes try to get by the bouncers first. That way if/when they got busted, you had not already paid the cover charge and have to choose being being cheap or abandoning them. Spring Break still involves lying about age. Hey, your kid who looks like he missed a shave is not 12 years old or under. Quit lying and pay the adult price for the buffet. Quit posing for the MTV cameras that are probably in here somewhere.

5. Diet. Upon arriving at Spring Break I bought a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, a jar of jelly, two boxes of Frosted Flakes, a gallon of milk and seven boxes of Mac ‘N Cheese. With very few exceptions, that sustained me. I am solo with the boys today. Not going to lie. Their menu looks a lot like my Spring Break menu. I almost feel guilty about exposing them to such hedonism at such a young age. Maybe we will hit Sam’s Club and cruise for free samples.

6. Free T-Shirts. Tons of booths giving away free shirts and crap if you sign up for credit cards or enlist or something. The problem was, they would quiz you on the information you provided. Being 21, I did not need 40 credit cards and let’s be honest, I was usually drunk and not really clear on what I was signing up for. But I really, really, really wanted T-Shirts, so there was a system. Give your first name. Give the last name of whichever friend was currently standing to your right. Add one to each number from your address, phone number or whatever else they wanted. Hometown was Detroit. Mother’s maiden name = my dog’s name. My dresser was loaded with thread-bare, poorly made T-Shirts with cheap Spring Break graphics. Today, I can not decide if Ben needs to wear his free T-Shirt from the library, summer camp, zoo program, or soccer camp. It is all the same. Spring Break skills put to practical applications. Mad Skillz.

7. Over-crowded car battles over the radio. Five people crammed into a beat-up station wagon for a sixteen hour drive. The battle for control over the radio was live watching wolves battle over a carcass on the Discovery Channel. Brownie, I swear I am going to throw you out of this car if I have to listen to “Cotton-Eye Joe” one more time. I do not care where he came from or where did he go. Turn it off. No change. My pimped-out mini-van is busting at the seams with 10-12 year old boys demanding the same song over and over again. Hey, I like Imagine Dragons, but we need a break. If I have to listen to your crew sing about being radioactive one more time, I just may go nuclear.

8. A commitment to physical fitness. I continue to run with my eye on a late May marathon. When Spring Break was looming, my friends and I went on a pretty strict six month weight lifting program in a desperate attempt to not look pathetic when we hit the beach. We were disciplined, but I am not going to lie. The last time I was on a weight bench was the day before we piled into the car.

9. Finally, the one constant thread that binds a 21-year-old frat rat’s Spring Breaks with the Spring Break of a 41-year-old father of two is that I always imagined it would be easier to get lucky during Spring Break. Just saying.

My Father was Right… Darn it.

You were right on so, so many things. I get it now. I am sorry.

I am sorry that I thought you were a complete moron for not being able to understand the difference between an X-Wing Fighter, Y-Wing Fighter, or Tie-Fighter. Quite frankly, I now have no idea what an Enderman, Creeper or HeroBrine is. Honestly, I do not even care what they are and have put zero effort into learning. I now understand that glazed look you got in your eyes when I tried to explain the differences between storm troopers, Imperial troopers, and biker scouts. Yeah. I get it.

I am sorry that I mocked you for not being able to make Mario run faster by simply holding down A and B. I am currently taunted because I can not hold ZR, flick the direction pad, tilt the whole unit left, and rapid tap a trigger while doing sit-ups or whatever else I need to do to keep Ben from fragging my butt back to the Stone-Age. I also now admire your ability to keep the obscenities to minimal and not to backhand me while I toyed with you. I get it.

I am sorry that I goofed on you about the bald thing because, well….

You were right. Picking on a child who is angry is hilarious. It drove me nuts as a kid and I swore I would never do it, but.. wow…. It is so much fun. There is nothing like having a kid all hacked off about something stupid, wrestling him down, whispering goofy stuff at him about his little problem and tickle/poke him until he bursts out into a tortured combination of anger and laughter. As soon as you stop, they are angry again and you get to start it all over. It is a complete donkey-cavity move but it is completely irresistible to a father. It is behavioral crack. You were so very right.

Hey, guess what? You were right. Being told a kid is bored is not informative. It is freaking annoying. I always thought putting us to work brought you some sort of sadistic joy, but now I get it. A dad could actually use a hand with some things and when that kid is whining about being bored, it seems perfectly reasonable to ask them to stop being a parasite and pitch in a bit more.

So many more things. I get while you drove lame vehicles, wanted to stop kicking a soccer ball non-stop after “only” an hour, and got mad when I had “only” lost three pairs of gloves. I get it.

What I will never understand is why you always made me cover my eyes during a movie when the sex scenes came on. Seriously, the FF button? It meant Fast-Forward. All you had to do was push the stupid button and I would not have to sit there like a loser desperately trying to peek between my fingers. I suggested it. You ignored it. Easy solution old man.

Who am I kidding? I get that too.

So, my kids think I’m an idiot..

A random sampling of interactions that demonstrates just how stupid my children think I am.

“Dad! I am turning off my IPad!”
“Then why are you laying on couch, running your fingers all over the screen while I’m hearing explosions?”
“That’s how you turn these off.”

“Dad.  Can you fix this Lego piece?  I was just sitting there playing with my Legos and this dude ran into the house, took this piece, snapped it and ran away.”

“Dad! I did finish eating the hamburger.”
“Why are you squirming in your pants with ketchup leaking out of your pocket?”
“It’s not because there’s a hamburger in my pocket!”

“Boys! Lift the lid!  Which one of you peed all over the seat?”
“Mom was the last one in there!”

“I’ll practice every day!”

“If you game with us, we promise not to kill you.”

“Technically, my teacher said I don’t have to do this.”

“Ben, I have a question about school.”
“How’d you find out about that?”
“I had a question about your homework.”
“Good, because nothing happened.”

“I wasn’t playing with it!”

Seriously, if I was as blind, deaf, and stupid as my children apparently think I am, natural selection would have picked me off long ago.