Thursday, December 29, 2011

Teenage Code: What "That's Dumb" Really Means

"The best substitute for experience is being sixteen."  ~Raymond Duncan

When a teenager utters "That's Dumb" chances are
it really means "I really don't know much about it."

So I get this phone call yesterday:

Ivan: Hey mom.  Guess where I'm at? Thomas's.  I've been here for six hours playing Mario Fortune Street.  It is so cool!
Me:  What?!  Isn't that the game I wanted for Christmas, but you told me not to bother because it was SO DUMB?!
Ivan:  Yeah, well... Mom it is so cool!

This conversation has played itself out sooooooooooooooooooo many times in my life.

Even as a parent it's hard not to get wrapped up in trying
to impress your teenager.  Don't.  Sometimes it's more
important to set an example by being yourself.
Ivan:  What are you watching?
Me: Sarah Jane Adventures.  You should check it out  it is so cool.
Ivan: It looks dumb.

{2 days later}

Me: Don't you have chores to do?
Ivan: I will, but I'm gonna watch a few episode of the Sarah Jane Adventures.
Me: I thought you said they were dumb.
Ivan: Naw.  They're kinda cool.

Oh, and what about over the Christmas holiday:

Me: Okay, I'm going to watch Max Headroom.  You're going to say it's "dumb" so just turn your head to the computer screen.
Ivan (after the introduction): Looks dumb.
Me: Told you.

Don't be quick to be offended when your child
criticizes something you do.  Chances are they are
dealing with daily exposure to a critical environment.
{20 Minutes into the Future}

Ivan: This show looks so stereotypically 80s, but some of the concepts are really cool.

{Hours later in the middle of an episode of Max Headroom.}

Me: I'm going to bed.  You want me to shut this off.
Ivan: No.  I want to find out what happens.

And there it is ladies and gentlemen.  My conclusion is that behind that snarky tone, twisted face and statement "That's Dumb!" is simply an invitation to "show me more."  Though it might be reflexive to take their criticisms to heart, it might be just as reflexive for them to criticize, which makes sense given that they spend their lives in a critical fishbowl called high school where comparison is par for the course. Sometimes you can teach a bigger lesson by saying: "Fine it's dumb" then continue to (say, do, watch, listen, etc.) anyways.  This will prevent you from making the mistake I made with regards to Mario Fortune Street.  Instead of taking my child's word that is was "dumb," I should have just trusted my instincts and put it on my Christmas list.   Then I could have been the one having six hours of fun! 

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