It always starts innocently.
“Are you joining us for dinner?” I ask my teenage daughter.
“I’m not sure,” she says. “I texted Maddy, but haven’t heard back.”
“Call Maddy and ask if she’s free, instead of waiting for a text. It’s a lot quicker.”
And thus a lecture begins.
You teenagers and the texting. You’re missing out on the entire art of conversation. Why are you waiting for a text, when you can just call?
Which sends me reeling on a tangent about how Generation BFF not only lacks communications skills, but any command of the English language whatsoever.
I actually got final papers from students who referred to Romeo and Juliet as “besties,” wrote “bc,” instead of because, and used ampersands bc they were too lazy to spell out “and” … on a final exam! Most of your generation can’t construct a grammatically correct sentence. How are you going to interview for college … or a job?
That’s when I realize she’s texting while doing homework.
How can you get anything done with all these distractions? Why don’t you charge your phone in the kitchen?
My daughter assures me her phone is silenced. But I go on.
It vibrates when a message comes through. You can’t afford to be unfocused with your AP courses and college apps … I’m just trying to help you reach the goals you’ve set for yourself.
I remind her that “Most people major in minor things.”
Look at how much time you spend texting, on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube … You could be studying, practicing the guitar, going for a walk … or, heaven forbid, having an actual get together with real human beings.
Do you know the difference between successful and unsuccessful people? Successful people know the little things they do every day add up over time. That’s the difference between becoming CEO of your own company and holding court in a subway tunnel.
This is when I point out that she’s lacking the posture of a winner. She’s reclining in bed, head unergonomically propped up against the wall, as she types on her laptop.
Sit up when you’re on the computer. Studies show the memory works more efficiently when you’re upright. Daddy and I bought you a desk. Why aren’t you using your desk?
… which leads to the “clean your room” speech.
Look at your desk! It’s piled so high with junk, you can’t use it. This room is a pigsty. I work full-time and spend my weekends trying to make things nice around here. I fold your clothes and you crumple them up and throw them on the floor. How can you live like this? … This is how it starts. One minute you’re using your floor as a closet, and the next, you’re carving a narrow path through old newspapers and collecting your pee in a Skippy jar.
Sit up at your desk. That position is horrible for your spine. You may not feel it now, but in 20 years you’re going to have neck problems … and a hump. I hope you have good health insurance, because you’re going to need regular visits to a chiropractor.
And this is how a lecture is born. You ask your teen to dinner; criticize her generation’s lack of communication’s skills; offer thoughts on the difference between successful people and hobos; liken her to the freaks on Hoarders; and wrap it up by convincing her she’s going to look like Quasimoto.
Evidently, I’ve been lecturing my daughter since she was a toddler. I recently came across a journal I kept of the funny things she said when she was little. And there, in my own handwriting, was an entry from when she was two.
Apparently she thought she was being funny and threw something at me while I was driving. I responded by gently telling her that you never ever throw anything at a driver, because it can cause an accident. I must have launched into a soliloquy on the dangers of distracting someone behind the wheel, because my cheeky Little-Bear-loving toddler looked away with a grimace and said: “Be quiet; you’re giving me a headache.”
You know what?
I give myself a headache sometimes.