I know this girl who has an aunt whose husband’s brother’s 2nd grade teacher’s dog trainer’s grandma’s sister-in-law’s personal trainer’s neighbor’s friend’s soccer coach who met that girl from iCarly.
I am privy to endless conversations with 11-12 year old kids lately. The misinformation, embellishment and dumbf*&kery overwhelms me. I sit quietly most of the time, listening to the utter nonsense being tossed around; sometimes I let a small giggle leak out because I can’t contain it any longer.
This is the only way I am going to know what kind of information my kid is entertaining in his soon to be completely scrambled brain. I have to listen and mostly keep my trap shut.
I’m told that the mind of a teenager is a terrifying place. I can’t remember much personally, but if the photographs and other supporting documentation are even partially accurate, I’m glad I’ve forgotten.
I do remember a few specific incidents when, as a teenager, I knew full well that I was making a bad choice, yet I dove head-first into stupidity. I believed all kinds of nonsense because someone’s sister’s cousin’s friend heard it in P.E., and then they told my boyfriend who told me what she said before cheerleading practice and then I told freaking EVERYONE.
This brings me to my point. My 11 year old has always been sort of an old soul. We have always spoken freely and frequently about most things. He has good information but no life experience. How will he apply this information in his own life?
He is much more interested in talking to his friends and hearing what they have to say these days. I wonder if my influence has made enough of an impact to combat the heaping loads of inaccurately ‘tween interpreted fluff.
I am truly floored. Not just by the content of the conversations he is having with his friends, but by the topics they discuss. An hour long car ride has the potential to raise discussions about music, religion, politics, weapons, relationships, drugs, and sex. I listen closely to the yammering, struggling as the kids attempt to impress each other with their vast knowledge of classic rock or military strategy.
The truth is that they do actually have quite a bit of accurate and detailed information. They just don’t know what to DO with the information. They don’t know how to interpret or apply what they know to real life. They judge, discuss, disagree, suggest, and agree. It pains me to keep silent, yet my policy is to keep silent unless they are sharing dangerous or grossly inaccurate information. They HAVE to work this stuff out as peers, learning from each other and practicing the art of respectful debate and problem solving.
I’m frightened. My kid knows too much and his thirst for knowledge isn’t going to be quenched anytime soon. He is forming his own opinions and drawing conclusions. We have already had respectful disagreements about religion, politics and abortion. I’ve mentioned that he’s 11, right?
I’ve developed a mantra that I chant as I tune out the noise of tween boys and girls waxing philosophical about the meaning of life in the back of my minivan. I’ll share.
I repeat silently, “I will resist the urge to school these pre-pubescent blow-hards unless they are being grossly inappropriate or sharing inaccurate information that could result in emotional and physical harm. I will drink my cheap wine and remember that I too, was drowning in my own idiocy and perceived brilliance. I will enjoy being entertained by the minor screw ups and drama, as my own life is dull and I’m still an empty headed and clueless human and I’ll probably end up learning a lot more from them than they can ever learn from me.”
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