by Mannahattamamma (UAE) | Feb 8, 2016 | 2016, Adolescence, Boys, Family, Humor, Middle East, Older Children, Parenting, Teenagers, UAE, USA
Frequently I am embarrassed by the fact that I only speak one language. Many of my friends in Abu Dhabi speak at least two, and most of my students speak three or even four. A few years ago I tried to learn Arabic and was stymied by a simple fact: my brain is old. It’s that whole “old dog new tricks” thing, which is to say, my brain wanted nothing to do with new lexical and grammatical systems.
Lately, however, I’ve been confronted with another new language and it’s proving equally difficult to master. In fact, maybe I will never master it.
It’s the language spoken by fifteen-year old boys in the twenty-first century in a first-world city. It’s both a spoken and a written language, comprised of monosyllables, grunts, emojis, and weird snapchat abbreviations. It’s a language that his friends speak fluently and one that he never deigns to translate to us, his parents.
Let me be clear: my son is the proverbial “good kid,” who still (occasionally) sits on my lap (usually when he wants a favor), does his homework without being asked, and is (sometimes) nice to his younger brother. But beyond that?
We get commentary about his basic human needs—food, sleep, wi-fi—and then he retreats into his digitally created iCocoon.
When I look at my son these days, the air seems full of ghosts; it’s like I’m seeing time, compressed and wispy, floating between the two of us. I see his baby self, staggering around the house with mushy graham crackers clenched in each fist, and I see other snippets of his childhood, too, hovering just beyond his (increasingly broad) shoulders. And at the same time, there’s the ghost of my own teenage self, snarling at my mother (sorry mom!) as I stand by the phone, willing The Cute Boy to call me.
The phone is a key difference in this linguistic and generational incomprehension. Those of you of a certain age will remember the days when houses had those things we now call “land lines,” which were anchored in a specific place and were frequently shared by the entire household. That meant that your TOTALLY ANNOYING younger siblings could pick up another extension and a) eavesdrop on your conversation; b) tell your mom what you were talking about; c) tease you mercilessly while you tried to be cool with The Cute Boy on the other end of the line.
Now, however, my son and his teenage friends carry a scrim of adolescence with them at all times, an endless stream of chitterchatter, gossip, sports scores, vaguely obscene quizzes, and god knows what else. Did you know it’s possible to have a scintillating conversation conducted entirely in poop and unicorn emojis, with the occasional emoti-face thrown in for good measure? It’s as if teenagers have all been transported into an ancient Egyptian civilzation and are fluent in hieroglyphs—yet another language I do not speak.
As I think about it, I am not sure, really, whether it’s that my son and I are speaking different languages or that his other language is omnipresent in a way that my teenspeak was not, because technology didn’t let it happen.
At some point I had to hang up the phone and turn off the TV, and engage with my family. Mind you, I wasn’t necessarily pleased about those engagements, but the world of “non-family” was regularly shut off.
Now, with smart phones, the external world is always ready to hand; there is always a way to tune out the family world.
I can hear you all, shaking your heads and muttering that we should set some boundaries and be firm about your expectations and teach your kid some manners and I bet that some of you, with small children, are thinking “my children won’t ever…”
Here’s the thing: I’ve thought all those things too. But then one night my son became fifteen and the battle lines got redrawn. How many times can we argue about how much phone use is too much; how many times can we discuss “reasonable use?” My son insists that I am the only parent who nags about such things, but my totally unscientific research suggests otherwise. I’ve talked with friends from Europe, Africa, the States, and elsewhere in the Middle East, and the screen-time battle seems to be an almost universal parenting problem.
If I think about it, the translation problems run in two directions. If my son could speak “parent,” then he would understand that in my repeated (and to him unreasonable) requests that he turn off his phone and talk to me, I am really saying “don’t grow up so fast, please don’t be in such a hurry to leave us behind.” He would understand that watching him grow up is lovely — and ineffably sad.
Maybe he’d understand if I put it in snapchat-ese for him. Can anyone translate into emoji for me?
How are things different now from when you were a teen? Do you find that the teens of today speak a different language?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Deborah Quinn, Mannahattamamma of the UAE. Photo credit to the author.
After twenty-plus years in Manhattan, Deborah Quinn and her family moved to Abu Dhabi (in the United Arab Emirates), where she spends a great deal of time driving her sons back and forth to soccer practice. She writes about travel, politics, feminism, education, and the absurdities of living in a place where temperatures regularly go above 110F.
Deborah can also be found on her blog, Mannahattamamma.
by Tara Bergman (USA) | Oct 9, 2015 | 2015, Boys, Celebrations, Childhood, Communication, Family, Gifts, Helping, Kids, Milestones, Parenting, Tara B., Traditions, USA, World Motherhood, Younger Children
My son turns 10 years old this fall. At the start of the summer, I told my husband that before school reconvened, I intended to have the talk with my son about Santa. While my son has never pushed for answers regarding holiday magic, he is in a multi-age program at school with older, brainy kids. My gut has been telling me that this is the year that Santa’s cover would be blown. I also know my son well enough to know I wanted to control the conversation and not have a big talking fifth grader accidentally ruin Christmas at the last minute. I wanted to work through this far enough away from the holiday so we could all get used to the idea. I knew if I framed things the right way, my son would still be able to welcome the upcoming holiday season. I was resigned to move ahead. (more…)
Tara is a native Pennsylvanian who moved to the Seattle area in 1998 (sight unseen) with her husband to start their grand life adventure together. Despite the difficult fact that their family is a plane ride away, the couple fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and have put down roots. They have 2 super charged little boys and recently moved out of the Seattle suburbs further east into the country, trading in a Starbucks on every corner for coyotes in the backyard. Tara loves the outdoors (hiking, biking, camping). And, when her family isn't out in nature, they are hunkered down at home with friends, sharing a meal, playing games, and generally having fun. She loves being a stay-at-home mom and sharing her experiences on World Moms Network!
by Kirsten Doyle (Canada) | May 2, 2014 | 2014, Adolescence, Autism, Awareness, Canada, Motherhood, Older Children, Parenting, Puberty, World Motherhood
A few months ago, my older son George turned ten. I felt a sense of wonderment at the fact that I had actually succeeded in keeping a human being alive for an entire decade. To put this into perspective, let me just say that as a kid I ripped the limbs off my dolls. I was not exactly a poster child for parenting potential. I know more than a few people who might legitimately be surprised that I’ve been more-or-less successful as a mother.
As George blew out his birthday candles, though, I also felt a jolt of terror. These ten years have gone so quickly, and in just eight more short years, my firstborn child will be nominally (although probably not academically) ready to graduate high school.
But wait! Before that even happens, before we have to make scary decisions about adulthood and post-school life, we have to navigate the stormy teenage years – a period that I don’t think any parent looks forward to, never mind the parent of a child with autism. (more…)
Kirsten Doyle was born in South Africa. After completing university, she drifted for a while and finally washed up in Canada in 2000. She is Mom to two boys who have reached the stage of eating everything in sight (but still remaining skinny).
Kirsten was a computer programmer for a while before migrating into I.T. project management. Eventually she tossed in the corporate life entirely in order to be a self-employed writer and editor. She is now living her best life writing about mental health and addictions, and posting videos to two YouTube channels.
When Kirsten is not wrestling with her kids or writing up a storm, she can be seen on Toronto's streets putting many miles onto her running shoes. Every year, she runs a half-marathon to benefit children with autism, inspired by her older son who lives life on the autism spectrum.
Final piece of information: Kirsten is lucky enough to be married to the funniest guy in the world.
Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Be sure to check out her YouTube channels at My Gen X Life and Word Salad With Coffee!
by Amy Hillis (USA) | Oct 23, 2012 | Life Lesson, Motherhood, Older Children, Parenting, School, World Motherhood
As I watch my almost ten year old son struggle with peer pressure and the need to find his own way in the world of 4th grade adolescents, I am transported back to my own struggle as an awkward 6th grader, a time when I was caught between being faithful to my friends or being honest and true to myself.
I failed at being true to myself—
The room was quiet. Tense breathing and pencils scratching, the only sounds to be heard. As I sat there, studying my own test, I felt C’s pencil tap me lightly on the shoulder.
As I snuck a glance backwards, she waved the folded note in her hand and nodded towards K, who sat in front of me. I sighed. It seemed easy, just pass the note with the test answers to K. I knew they were the test answers because C had told us the day before that she had them.
All I had to do was pass the note to K when C was done using them.
I could use them after K, although I wasn’t much for cheating. My lack of a social life left plenty of time for studying.
All I had to do was pass the note from one girl to the other. Easy. I glanced up at the teacher, she was watching everyone intently. It would take some quick maneuvers to get the note passed. (more…)
Amy is a native Chicagoan that currently resides just outside of Cincinnati, OH. A city girl, through and through, she’s still adjusting to small town life. Amy has a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art with a minor in French from Elmhurst College. She was working on her Master’s degree at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, when she became pregnant with her 3rd child. Although this angel boy was only here for a very short time – he left quite a legacy.
Nathaniel was born with a rare genetic disorder called Citrullinemia. Amy and her husband, James, went on to have 4 more boys, 3 of whom were also born with Citrullinemia. In January 2011, her youngest son, David passed away from complications of a liver transplant performed to 'cure' the Citrullinemia. Now a stay-home mom of 5, she started blogging in October 2010, while David was still in the hospital. Two of her other sons have had successful liver transplants to cure their genetic disorders.
Her 2 older children still live in Chicago. When not hanging out with her kids, she spends her ‘me’ time writing, sewing, reading & walking. Amy also spends a generous amount of time online. She can be found on Twitter @transplantedx3. On Facebook and on her Website <a href="http://mytearstainedlife.com"My Tear-Stained Life
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