The Middle Age Follies

A Slightly Skewed Look At Life

By And For Those Of Us On The North Side Of 50

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Over the years, as conversations with our teenagers gradually decreased in substance and volume to the point where we were reduced to uttering cartoon cloud punctuation marks as the sum total of our exchanges, I became aware of one factor which may have been the source of a great deal of mutual consternation.

While the techniques and effects are different for the teenage girl in contrast to conversations with the teenage boy (I crack me up sometimes! Conversations with teenage boys … whooee, that’s a good one! I’ll have to remember that when our children become parents).

Where was I? Never mind that, who am I and what are you reading?

Forgetfulness can be such a downer when you reach … what was I saying?

Right! Conversations! Teens! Teenage boys having conversations (I crack me up sometimes! Conversations with teenage boys … whooee, that’s a good one! I’ll have to … this sounds familiar? Have I written this before?)

Anyhow, I’m back from wherever it was that I went when I was not here.

On the assumption that you do in fact still have conversations with your teenagers on occasion and you have not yet had these experiences, you’ll soon notice one glaring difference between daughters and sons. I’m a firm believer that knowledge is a good thing, so if you are prepared for this, then the years … the long, long, long years you spend dealing with your teenagers will be … nah, this won’t make it any better at all, but at least you’ll know you are not the only parent dealing with this

First of all, just accept this sad fact: Any words/instructions from a parent are instantly filtered and then converted into gibberish, or so it seems. This is true more so with sons than daughters, who tend to be a bit more selective as to when they decide you are a moron not worthy of the slightest bit of attention for periods ranging from six days to three full weeks at a time.

Teenage boys can apparently remember only an average of 0.7 requests per day, and even less on holidays and weekends. Has anyone else noticed this?

For example: I can recall on more than a few occasions when we provided our then 14-year-old with various “To-Do” lists containing as many as three separate chores to be performed with the next thirty days. Most of the time (okay, I lie: EVERY time) he completed his circuit around the house with list in hand, he would always stop for a meal; watch four consecutive sporting events; nap for at least six hours; eat three more times, and then go to sleep.

That routine was not complete until our son—while in the basement and approximately 19 inches from the wastebasket in our laundry (“utility”) room—I would call down to remind him to empty it. Before he finally remembered to actually do so despite said calling downs (and then only because he could no longer locate the basement because of the trash piled to the doorway), he had forgotten to do so a world record 212 consecutive weeks (and I’m talking consecutive weeks in a row!)

Daughters, thankfully, are different. Communicating with them is a snap because we have no idea at all what they are saying when they decide we are worthy of conversation. Why? Ask the parent of any young girl!

Words explode from the mouths of teenage girls at upwards of eight hundred and thirty miles per hour. I’m convinced that packing X number of people in small cars is no match for the record number of words girls can pack into a twelve-second span. I believe the current mark is 12,361 words, which is the equivalent of a twenty-one minute, fourteen second adult conversation.

Typical conversations with daughters, however, run pretty much like this:

So, I have this friend Sophia, like, and she like hates this other girl named Sofia, buttheylikewerefriends, sophiaandjofiaandIhatejoffiabythewaybuttheyhadafightandsophia’s

Nine seconds later, catatonic ME: “Oh, wow

Delighted that I had taken the time to listen, my daughter invariably would head off with cellphone pressed firmly against her ear to share similar stories with her friends. It was easy enough for me to know that’s exactly what she was doing: the trail of smoke from the cellphone is hard to miss.