Category Archives: A Dude’s Guide to Teens

Notes On The Care And Feeding Of Teenaged Boys In The Wild

In his natural habitat, the teenaged boy is normally a sullen, yet somehow docile creature. He seems bent on quietly sleeping away as much free time as possible.

When spotted outside his designated sleeping area, sometimes known as the Pit of Despair or the Garbage Dump, the teenaged boy typically is attempting to sulk through the larger familial environment, speaking only when forced to do so, interacting to the least extent possible by a physical being, and foraging for food. It is this latter activity, consuming almost as much time as the teenaged boys’ attempt to sleep, which takes up the most time during the day.

It is thought by many, this author most definitely included, that teenaged boys have a hollow leg for storage of foraged foodstuffs. While not evident in most contemporary medical imaging technology, there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy.

Don’t test me on this. I mean it!

So, yes. The teenaged boy can use his hollow leg (It is there! It is!) for the majority of his time as a teen. Over time, the hollow space gradually withers away, becoming a vestigial, nearly invisible line between several leg muscles.

This, however, is what happens in the teenaged boys’ natural habitat. Despite their best intentions, family members will astonishingly forget previous experiences with forcing a teenaged boy out of this natural environment and into new, strange places which work against his natural tendencies. In other words, teenaged boys do, on occasion, get taken on vacation.

Often it is not a smooth week during the vacation time.

Some parental units will expect the teenaged boy to show excitement at the prospect of traveling to an exotic destination, there to interact with people different than himself, eat unfamiliar foods and attempt to sleep in beds that do not have mattresses conformed to his shape. These parental units are often the most disappointed following the paying of the cost of travel and accommodation for the vacation.

These parents, as many prefer to be called, face further disappointment if they expect the sullen teenaged boy to rise early, be excited and friendly, then go out and enrich themselves with cultural activities not available in its home range.

The typical teenaged boy will face the prospect of cultural enrichment with all the excitement and anticipation a normal person would have for a blunt-edge, sledhammer-assisted leg amputation.

While the idea of strange food normally is met with loud and repeated calls of, “This stinks! I hate this stuff! Why can’t I have a cheeseburger? Everybody hates me. I’m going to my room. Oh, wait. That’s right. I can’t go to my room, can I? Fine. I’ll just sit here and starve to death in front of you.”

Interestingly, at least interestingly to those not intimately involved, these exact words are repeated on an average of every five minutes while teenaged boys and parental units are sitting in a restaurant. Which is much more persistence than showcased by teenaged boys when forced to do, say, homework.

The frustration level of the parental unit will only increase when the teenaged boy decides that he will continue sleeping as late as he wants, no matter the distraction nor the din of people getting ready around him.However, the author of this paper believes he has come up with a method that could be useful to parental units forced to bring a teenaged boy outside of his natural habitat.

For starters, it is recommended that parental units adjust their expectations before leaving for the trip. Understand that teenaged boys have, at least in front of their parents, one facial expression that seems to be used the majority of the time. Teenaged boys spend a lot of time practicing that expression. However, this author has it on good authority, that actual human emotions do percolate beneath that stone-faced exterior.

Which is good, really, because you’d never know it to simply go by the exterior.

So, once parental units understand that smiling is a thing of the past and the future, but not the present, for teenaged boys, it enables them to move forward with their plans without suffering disappointment, frustration or anger. At least about the lack of a smile.

On a recent trip with his own teenaged boy, this author discovered what seemed to be the key to a successful temporary transplantation of a teenaged boy to a new environment. That key being disinterest. In this case, the author’s own.

Many parental units will pack a vacation chock full of wonderful events, fantastic sites and educational exhibits designed for the teenaged boy to enjoy and find elucidation. When these activities are met with surface disinterest by the teenaged boy, parents suffer.

The key, this author has found, is to use that disinterest to the parents’ advantage. While the teenaged boy insists on sleeping very late indeed, it is possible for the parents to go out into the new environment and seek out those stimuli which he or she enjoys and do so without the constant drag of a sullen teenaged boy.

Then, at a time agreed upon earlier, the parents simply return to the temporary sleeping territory of the teenaged boy and wake him up. As is the case with most wild animals, the first thing that should be done upon waking the teenaged boy is to feed him. This should take place as soon as possible.

Having been out enjoying themselves earlier in the morning, the parents will more easily have found a place that serves food they like and that still serves a breakfast-ish food for the teenaged boy. Once the food has been absorbed and the teenaged boy begins to reapproach what might, on a stretch, be called civility, then it’s time for the joint activity.

This author found that having one activity, outside of meals, per day to perform with the teenaged boy worked out just about right. Mostly because this author made sure there was another activity in the neighborhood of the first. That way, when the first activity was finished, it could be said with the appropriate degree of surprise and incredulity, “Oh, look. It turns out that (fill in the blank of another activity, this one less attractive to the teenaged boy) is right near here. Why don’t we just head over there for a couple of minutes? Wow. Isn’t this lucky?”

Admittedly, the author’s teenaged boy began to look at the author semi-suspiciously after the author repeated the above verbatim four days in a row, but it still had its desired effect. However, this could be something to watch out for on other vacations.

Finally, after the exhausting day’s events (exhausting to a teenager because it normally wouldn’t involve more sleeping or television) are finished, it is time for the next important step.

Once more feeding the teenaged boy. As this normally would be the dinner meal time, it is best to eat at a restaurant that is more filling for the parents. That way, when the teenaged boy begins the evening feeding frenzy a few hours later and begins turning every adult-aged stomach in the vicinity, the parents already will have eaten and can simply put in the earplugs purchased for just this purpose and turn away for the duration.

Oddly, this author found that being earplugged and facing away from his teenaged boy made for a remarkably enjoyable reading experience. As long as the author kept his eyes focused away from the carnage happening near the previously purchased snack foods.

It is hoped that this author’s travails with his teenaged boy can help other parents survive any temporary relocation of their own teenaged boy.

First published: On Charlotte Parent website.

April 14, 2015 8:33 am
Written by: Richard E.D. Jones


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Distraction Drama Dismay

The twitchier I get, the more inventive I get.

What with the youngest dude, Hyper Lad, starting to get behind the wheel now that he’s 15, I’m probably more twitchy then I’ve ever been when I consider having to teach this guy how to drive.

I feel like one of those short-timers from any movie about Vietnam. As the date they will rotate home gets closer and closer, they get more and more paranoid about something happening to them before they get out.

I’ve made it through teaching two other young dudes how to drive, but now that the last one is come around, I’m starting to freak out more than I ever have before.

Fortunately for me, I actually have made it through two other driving debuts so I do have a couple of tricks in my bag.

The first big trick in the bag is repetition, which is the trick I take out of the bag first. This is one trick I have been using for a long time with things like texting. Knowing I have/had three sponges sitting behind me, I make sure to loudly and often refer to the fact that I got a text, but can’t read it because I was driving. Or I will ask one of them to read aloud the text and respond.

They have heard again and again, seen again and again and again, that they should not text and drive. I get the feeling that they’re more likely than not to follow in those footsteps, if only to avoid having to hear me talk about it again and again and again and again. . .

Since the spawn couldn’t see my face while I was driving and they riding, I made sure to continually talk about how I was keeping my eyes on the road even when I had to change the radio or something similar. I recommend them getting to know their car/dashboard well enough that they don’t have to look to hit the radio buttons.

While this next step might be corny, I think it really does work. Before I allowed any of the young dudes to drive on their own, I sat them down and went over point by point exactly what was expected of them. For each point, they had to tell me specifically that they would not or would do that point. You also can do the same thing in a written contract they must sign.

Include repercussions that will occur to the young driver should he or she violate the terms of the promise/agreement. And enforce those terms.

While not necessarily distracting, one thing I have made sure they know is something that my mom made me understand. If I was ever out with friends and either I, as driver, or my friend, as driver, had been drinking, I could call my mom and she would pick everyone up, no matter the time, and never say another word about it.

I only ever called her once, but she was true to her word. I’ve made sure that my young dudes understand that as well. If there is any sign of impairment, they always know they have a free, safe ride without any sort of blowback for them. Knowing that we trust them enough that we’ll offer that kind of thing, actually helps them to do the right thing because they want to live up to that trust.

Or at least that was how I felt when I was on the other end of the bargain.

In North Carolina, new drivers aren’t allowed to stuff the car with their friends. Neither are new drivers with the last name of Jones, who live in Casa de Dude. We make it a point for our young dudes to understand that their first job as drivers is to make their way from Point A to Point B safely. Bringing along anyone else is way, way down the list.

Friends in the car can be even more distracting than driving by a 10-car pile-up of a circus truck, a shipment from a marble factory and a funeral home for mimes.

The two big takeaways from this would have to be make sure you model good driving behavior and communicate with your neophyte driver, which means both of you talk and both of you listen.

Distraction starts behind the eyeballs. Fortunately, safety does as well, so make sure there’s more room for safety.

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Driven From Distraction To Danger

Inexperience added to distraction equals a massively dangerous drive time.

I’m going through my third mind-bending, adrenaline-scarring, foot-stomping, squeal-stuffing, expletive-deleting, smile-faking, terror-strangling trip through driver education just now, which might possibly mean I’m a bit sensitive to this sort of thing.

The thing is, distraction is a huge problem for drivers of all ages, not just the road newbies.

In addition to my oldest young dude, Sarcasmo, I also know a friend my age who, only a few years ago, was looking down at the radio while driving through a parking lot and — with mind distracted — rammed into a parked car. And the strangest thing was that, in both cases, the parked car actually jumped out in front of both drivers.

At least according to their stories. Regardless, allowing yourself to be distracted can be as dangerous as getting behind the wheel after downing a few adult bevies.

Distraction can be even more dangerous than drinking for new drivers because they’ve been told again and again not to drink and drive and, for the most part, they listen to that. How often have you told your young dudette not to look at the radio while driving? Or answer the phone?

There are plenty of new advertising campaigns that warn drivers of the dangers of texting while driving. I know several adults who have listened to that and now will not even read a text while stopped at a red light. I know even more teens who say they don’t, but then respond suspiciously quickly when texted while out.

That, my friends, is plenty dangerous.

An inexperienced driver who reaches for a cellphone increases the risk for a crash by more than 700 percent, a new study found.

Using accelerometers, cameras, global positioning devices and other sensors, researchers studied the driving habits of 42 newly licensed 16- and 17-year-old drivers and 167 adults with more experience. The machines recorded incidents of cellphone use, reaching for objects, sending text messages, adjusting radios and controls, and eating and drinking.

Eating while driving almost tripled the risk of a crash, while texting or looking at something on the side of the road nearly quadrupled that risk.

Distraction is dangerous.

Think of it this way. You’re in a rolling hunk of metal traveling down the road at a high rate of speed. This hunk of metal and plastic now has massive inertia and it’s held to the road by only four small pieces of rotating rubber. That’s it.

If you want to understand inertia, try holding a small weight in your hand and then spinning around. You’ll feel the weight pulling away from your spinning body. Now try to quickly stop spinning, or pull the weight straight up.

That fight against what you’re trying to do? That’s inertia. That’s inertia from a small weight and powered only by your spinning body.

Imagine tons of metal and plastic and glass, moving many, many, many times faster than your spinning body. Changing direction or stopping isn’t so easy with that, is it?

Because of that difficulty, it’s of upmost importance that drivers stay focused on the road ahead, behind and to the side, so they can react as soon as possible and get their vehicle under control.

Getting distracted by a text or a good song on the radio is every driver’s worst enemy because it can happen at any moment and will do so without your knowledge.

According to the study, older drivers only significantly raised their risk of an accident while dialing a phone. Not only that, drivers from every age group already spend 10 percent of their driving time looking at something off the road.

“When young people engage in tasks that take their eyes away from the roadway, they’re increasing their risk dramatically,” said the lead author, Charlie Klauer, a research scientist at Virginia Tech University. “Kids need to have their eyes forward. To add any other distraction into this is really increasing the risk.”

Have a talk with your young dudes and dudettes about driving without distractions today.

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