Teens and miscommunication
My son was moping around all morning before my husband drove him to catch the bus (in the next town over — it’s not like driving him to the end of the driveway or anything). He would not tell me what was wrong and I was afraid it might be girl trouble, which he likely would no longer discuss with me (as he did in 8th grade), so I asked my husband to see what he could figure out.
After they left I breathed a sigh of relief. I realized I had been scurrying around the kitchen on eggshells while fixing breakfast and lunch for everyone. A teen boy’s moodiness can be like an oppressive dark cloud for all.
I picked up my phone and that is when I saw his messages.
His answer was, “I thought you were ignoring me.”
I told him I would never just ignore him. That is so Jr. High! (Though some people apparently don’t move on from that level of coping skills because I can think of three grown women off the top of my head who have or would ignore me if I ever ran across them again!) (It doesnt bother me all that much because as one of my Facebook friends says, “the greatest thing about being over 40 is the realization that you don’t — and don’t have to — give a s*** about most other people’s opinions and it mostly doesn’t matter if someone likes you or not.”)
The thing I found interesting is that my son never said anything to me. With words. That would come out of his mouth.
I hate to do that “when I was a kid” thing but I will anyway. We used to actually have to speak on the telephone. We might have to call our friends on a house phone that everyone in their family shared. There were very few kids who had their own line…and I can’t even remember any of my own friends who did. We had to learn phone manners, like how to ask to speak to someone, how to leave a message with a person and on voicemail, and how to not call after a certain hour.
Now, most high-school kids have their own personal devices. It’s convenient for parents to be able to communicate with them when they’re on the go — to coordinate pick-up logistics. (I know some parents who track their kids by their phones, but I have never done that…maybe when they start driving I’ll consider it!) My kids use their devices in school to look up things and as calculators. Kids don’t use voicemail and very rarely use the phone at all. Mine were all talking about how snapchat has a calling feature now…uhm, yeah, so does your (unlimited calls) phone, so don’t be using data to make snapchat calls! I think some kids text each other at all hours of the day and night, which no doubt contributes to the nocturnal lifestyle of teens. (Vampire sleeping habits are likely why my son didn’t feel good though he assures me he wasn’t tired.) So much can be misconstrued by texting, though. You can’t hear the tone and inflection in a conversation, regardless of how many emojis, ellipses, or other punctuation are used (or not — on a side note, my kids think it’s hilarious when I’m using speech to text and I say “period” or “comma” or “exclamation point,” because I usually do use punctuation in my text messages).
Furthermore, communication is also hindered when you don’t ensure the other person has actually received your message.
And lastly, has the world really come to texting people who are in the same household and even the same room with you about pressing concerns?
Okay, that’s not “lastly.” Because in the past two days since I started writing this little story (getting as far as this part during the half hour wait over the scheduled baseball practice time on Friday), I have experienced the following:
- My son neglecting to mention to his instructor that he won’t be at Driver’s Ed next Saturday, even though he had acknowledged my reminder to do so less than 30 minutes before during our exchange to confirm when I was supposed to pick him up. I said, “Are you planning to call your instructor to let him know?” (I am certain he is not.)
- My son not RSVPing or forwarding a message to me about his basketball banquet, which is tomorrow night.
- My son not knowing when his baseball practice ended today and not having the wherewithal to mention his need to leave ON TIME the tomorrow for the basketball banquet to his coach before he left practice today. (He receives his schedule via group chat so there is no way I can see it and must rely on him communicating this information to me.)