Thursday, September 26, 2013

Teenage Angst

My eldest son turned 13 this past summer.  He had already been displaying the typical teenage attitude for months: mumbling, one word responses to any questions; preferring friends to family; extraordinary amounts of time spent in the bathroom.  The usual routine.

While Wifey was freaking out about it (as she tends to do for most things), I was ok with it.  We've raised him as best we could.  To our credit, he's a caring, compassionate kid who has a lot of friends, plays sports and is smart and funny when it's required.

The one aspect of teenage life that concerns me is something I didn't have at his age: social media.  I seem to have brainwashed him into wanting nothing to do with Facebook and wouldn't allow it even if he did.  He is on Instagram (which I still don't understand) and uses his iPhone to Facetime his cousin in Vermont and text constantly with girls.  Yeah....girls.

He's already had one official 'girlfriend' and experienced first hand the particular and peculiar brand of female psychosis.  She would text him all hours of the day and night, to the point we had to tell him to put his phone into Airplane Mode so her messages wouldn't keep waking up the house.  When he didn't respond immediately to her messages she would have her friend text him asking why he wasn't responding.  When that didn't illicit a reply the friend would call him.

They never had a date and I don't even think they kissed (he won't admit it, anyway).  When they broke up she had the friend call him.  I heard his side which didn't include more than ten words.

'Yeah?'

'OK'

'Yeah, that's fine'

'Not really'

'Whatever, bye'

He then went back to shooting hoops outside without blinking.  When I asked what the call was about he told me the girlfriend had her friend break up for her.  When he didn't respond with absolute devastation she told him he had no emotions.  That's when his 'Whatever, bye' was uttered and he hung up the phone.

That's my boy!

Things have been quiet since then, although we do catch one of his friends dropping an F-bomb in texts to him now and then.  We let him know that's not appropriate and to tell his friend to not use that language when texting him.  If they continue we block the cell number.  It's been effective.

Last night Wifey checked his phone and found this message:

'Stop causing trouble with Tony, you faggot.  You and your friends can go fuck yourselves.'

This was sent by my son to another kid in his school.  Needless to say, we are not happy.

The problem resides in the use of language, of course, but he's at the age that I think we need a bit of balance when dealing with him.  He can't be treated like an eight year old, any longer.  He's got more freedom, but at the same time, we can't let him get away with things like this.

I boiled it down to three points:

Lesson one:  Do NOT use either F word again.  We're in a new age and the name calling can be construed as a hate term now.  I said 'If he shows that to the Principal in your school, you can be suspended'.  He has a knack for just nodding when you lecture him, but that opened his eyes a bit.

Lesson two:  I do appreciate that he is sticking up for his friend.  That's something I've drilled into him since first grade.  If someone is picking on someone else, you stick up for them.  Especially if they are your friends.
Lesson three (and the most important one to take from all of this):  If you're going to threaten somebody you NEVER PUT IT IN WRITING!!!!

Stupid kids

Today's Distraction:  Five ways to deal with teenagers according to Psychologies Magazine.  So they must know what they're talking about.

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