I was with a friend who noted that his teenager was not present, not taking in the moment, because of his teenager’s obsession with….you know it, the phone. It distressed him.
I pointed out that his teenager’s social circle exists in these handheld portals, that the last thing a teenager wants is engagement with a parent. He argued that the teenager was simply not present. Again, I noted that it was less that the teenager was not-present and more that the teenager could care less what the parent had to say, other than, “Yes, you can have a milkshake with your dinner” or some version of what a kid needs and wants in the moment. Remember what you were like as a teenager? These guys? Same. Parents—and adults in general—are the least interesting people to teenagers. It is their teenaged friends—and their friends of the friends—that are coveted. I also said to my friend, it is in fact, adults who are not stepping up to the present. Because: while there are generations of us who were forced to make eye contact with our parents at the dinner table or passed out in the back seat of the car while on a road trip, this generation of people can escape us. They can avoid us by looking down into their palms, scrolling up and down.
I am continually frustrated by adults disinterest in accepting the paradigm of the phone, or the hysteria of how our children will have no social skills when they “grow up,” or how proud an adult is that they are not on Facebook. If you are not willing to step up to the present, you will continue to fall behind; teenagers get this. And currently, our teenagers social lives is broadcast on very public forums like Instagram and well as transient ones like Snapchat. That is the new reality.
I was in college when ATM’s made accessing cash easy. As a teenager? I babysat in order to have cash in my pocket. As a child, I didn’t have a remote control; I was the channel changer. I’m the old fart who will tell you that there were no answering machines, microwaves or CD players “in my day.” And as an adult, until roughly 20 years ago, I didn’t have a cellular phone. I didn’t even have texting until I was in my 40s.
There are a lot of people that I know that can vouch for the aforementioned. Still, there are many more people who have no idea what life is like without an iPod. And as our sweet little children become surly teenagers, it’s important for us adults who are aging at the same rate as our children, to adapt to their exposure to the technology. To let go of the need to control our children, to accept how boring we are to them, to make the phone the battleground.
Because when I was on a road trip with my parents? I was passed out in the back seat of the car. When we were in museums, I was buried in a book. When they were fighting, I tuned out. What our children seek as their escape is a vibrant portal into other people’s lives; our children are living in the present. They just happen to be doing it in a different way than we did.
And for me, I’m good with that.
Donna Brazile: “When I hung up the call to Bernie, I started to cry, not out of guilt, but out of anger. We would go forward. We had to.”
This months mantra, METOO, is not a phase.
When your child has special needs.
Breast cancer, pink, like that.
If you never understood Homer’s Odyssey, that’s cool, Emily Wilson is here to save your approach to the Trojan Horse.
Breakfast, good for you, blah blah blah.
And now have a laugh with Amber Ruffin.