We were at T.Puzzle’s thirteen year wellness check. He was sailing through, crushing milestones and checking all the boxes landing him in healthy ranges for almost everything (screen time average was the only number in question).
The nurse turned to me and said, “Any concerns?”
“No. Unless you have a magic formula for getting a thirteen year old boy to articulate his thoughts,” I said.
The nurse could empathize. She experienced a similar phenomenon with her now seventeen year old son. Every question she asked him was met with an, “I don’t know.”
“I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.”
How is it possible that once boys reach the age of thirteen they don’t know anything? Where does all their knowledge go? How do they make it through the day not knowing anything?
As we waited in the exam room for the doctor to appear, I decided to investigate this communication/knowledge block.
“So, T.Puzzle. Do you talk to your friends at school?” I said.
“What do you talk about?” I said.
Wow. I could sense I was really getting somewhere. I continued my sure-be-successful line of questioning:
“What else do you talk about?”
“Sometimes, we talk about things.”
Oh, the stuff and sometimes the things. It all makes sense to me now.
“Why are you able to talk to them but not me?”
“Because they don’t ask me questions,” he said.
I didn’t know how to respond to that. Oh no! It’s happening.
Like me, you may have mixed emotions about being called up for jury duty. It may not be the happiest way to spend your day, but you can’t deny it is a privilege to be part of the justice system. Yet, as I was packed in a room with a thousand other people who seemed to not really want to be there, I started to pay extra close attention to the information video describing exemptions from service.
Are you under 18 years of age?
Shoot. Definitely not me. In fact, my boys are laughing so hard after reading that, it’s best to move on.
Are you not a citizen of the United States?
Born and raised. Next, please.
Do you live outside of county lines?
Darn it. Smack dab in the middle.
Do you have kids 12 and under that require your supervision?
Please don’t bring attention to the fact that I AM A MOM OF TEENAGERS. Onward.
Do you have a family member whose care is dependent on you and this care would suffer if you had to serve as a jury member?
Does six rounds of daily eye meds and a desperate need to be near me at all hours of the day count?
They technically never stated the family member had to be human…
In case you were wondering, I was dismissed from duty by 11am. Next time, I’ll be ready though, just in case.
I love that teenage boys think parents have no idea on how to beat the system.
T.Puzzle was in a world of hurt. He did not like what was served for dinner (trust us, no one in our house found this shocking) and he tried to slyly dump its remainders from his bowl. Mad Dog called him out but Lil’ T.P. took it even further. He lied about it. Said he had finished everything.
He was almost sent straight to bed. Instead, Mad Dog determined the best course of action was to let him stay up but he would allow T.Puzzle zero snacks. While zero snacks does not seem that extreme, to a growing boy who barely touched his dinner, this felt rather catastrophic (which is kind of the point if we are being honest).
The boys went back to their game room. It is set in the furthest reach of our home, tucked away but still a few steps from the kitchen.
Always the kitchen with these guys! In and out, snacks upon snacks. I sometimes marvel they both haven’t turned into potato chips by the sheer volume of snack foods they consume.
So, when Full Speed comes meandering into the kitchen, he decides for the first time in ages he is going to have Oatmeal Squares. While this seems like a normal, teenagery snack, and it is, it also happens to be one of T.Puzzle’s regular favorites.
“You’re planning to give your brother some aren’t you?” said Mad Dog.
“Maybe.” said Full Speed.
Boy, you can’t beat the system when your Mom and Dad invented the system.
I dedicate this post to all the siblings out there fighting parental oppression. It is real and causes so many problems like learning, growing and developing into normal, human adults.
Words more dreaded than this for a teenage boy simply do not exist.
This is where the story of our beleaguered hero begins.
He had a humble upbringing. Raised by a beautiful, age-defying, always-dancing mother and an extremely handsome (you’re welcome, Mad Dog) and benevolent father, our hero rose unassumingly through life’s ranks and, as any good story would have it, found himself face-to-face with doom (aka high school).
Our Humble Hero was not afraid for he new his birthright.
Great men are born to great men.
He had done the math (sort of, just don’t check his eighth grade Algebra 1 transcript) and realized he had everything he needed to succeed. He had wit, he had charm and he had incredible good looks (you’re welcome, Full Speed).
He had everything he needed except for one thing …
Most academic heroes, grammar gods and algebraic warriors know that without such skills, failure looms large. Their parents also know this. These parents state the obvious and hope their progeny take heed. Things like attending tutorials with teachers, studying in study hall (gasp!) and taking your time on tests all fall under the wisdom arc of great, parental knowledge.
Did our Humble Hero listen to these time-tested tenets of success?
Here is his story told in his own words:
Call to Adventure: The call to adventure occurs after parent night. Mad Dog learned that the Humble Hero’s L. A. teacher had tutorials. He came home and said “The Great Teacher has tutorials Tuesdays and Thursdays in the morning.
You should go”.
Refusal of the Call: Our hero ignored the call thinking that he was too cool for more school. He assured Mad Dog that everything was under control.
Acceptance of the Call: One day, the hero got his grammar/vocab quiz back. He had missed 9 grammar questions for a score of 82. It was at this moment he knew he had messed up.
Crossing the Threshold: The hero arrived at The Great Teacher’s door and he entered the special world of her classroom.
The journey had begun.
Meeting the Mentor: All heroes need a guide that shows them the ways of life. The Great Teacher showed the hero how to become one with the grammar gods.
Trials and Tests: In class, the hero had to deal with worksheets about grammar. The days went by and eventually the hero finally figured out what a preposition does.
The Supreme Ordeal: All of the hero’s hard work had prepared him for this moment. A 50 question quiz with half of those being grammar. Mere mortals could not withstand the pressure of this quiz. But, our hero isn’t mortal. Brandishing his magic weapon, (a worn down mechanical pencil), he was able to complete the quiz with only minimal suffering.
The Reward: Much to his surprise, the hero had accomplished his goal. He had gotten an A on the grammar quiz.
Return with the Elixir: The hero was overjoyed. He couldn’t wait to tell his parents what he had accomplished.
Mad Dog’s response “I was right, wasn’t I?”
The hero could only muster, “Maybe”.
From this moment forward, strange occurrences became the Humble Hero’s new normal. As he began to attend other tutorials along with continuing to be mentored by the Great Teacher, all his test scores and grades improved.
How could it be? Do you mean to tell me the Humble Hero had the power to succeed THE WHOLE TIME. Move over sister, your ruby slippers got nothing on this guy.
I’m pretty sure July 3rd is ‘Take Your Kids To Work’ Day. I asked Mad Dog about it, but he wasn’t buying it. It’s not that I don’t enjoy my time with my boys, in fact it’s kind of awesome. Being able to hang out with them with no agenda has been incredibly fun. However, after they spend loads of unstructured time together, this leads to frustration and maybe occasional acting out. Therefore, please, “Take Your Kids to Work” Mad Dog.
In all seriousness, I am grateful how much I enjoy their company. This is the reward of parenting. All the blood, sweat and tears has paid off. Not to say their won’t be challenges ahead, but at least for this moment, being a mom is a lot of fun.
Moving forward I understand that they will not want to hang out with me forever. Even though I am entertaining, am an excellent Jazzerciser (this is cutting edge cool, right?) and know a lot of really famous people:
Ah, but we will always have the memories of this summer … I intend to make the most of them.