Tag Archives: emotions

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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Why It’s Always The End Of The World For Your Child

In my house, the end of the world came around with a distressing regularity.

With three young dudes growing up in the same house, being ruled over by the meanest, most horrible dictator ever to put on a pair of pants and then jump up and down on poor, defenseless boys who only wanted so very little. . .

Those poor young dudes. It must have been like living in hell. Only, the thing of it is. . . I was there. It wasn’t hell for anyone. Anyone but an adult in the vicinity.

Hello!

You’ve all seen it. Even if you’re not a parent, you’ve seen it.Pulling an ugly face is a regular occurrence for little dudes during their toddler years. And beyond, if I'm being honest.

Something happens and suddenly the world ends for a young dudette, who starts screaming and yelling and crying and throwing herself onto the floor of the grocery store and acting like the end is not only nigh, but already here and wearing spiked heels to step on her.

On a (slightly) less histrionic level, I and probably most parents in the history of history have heard just about every single variation on the phrase, “This was the worst. Evar!”

I mean, seriously. If I hear that again, I just might be the one who screams.

So, yeah. We’ve all seen this sort of thing happen. Something minor rocks the little dude’s world and he reacts like someone tried to cut off his arm and beat his puppy to death with it. (Although that might be a bit of a harsh simile. Accurate, but still harsh.)

The big question (other than, “How do I stop this? Or, barring that, make a clean get away without being caught?) is why? Why do our little dudes and dudettes react so over the top?

The easiest answer is also the one about which we can do the least. They simply have no basis for comparison. When young dudes aren’t yet six or so, they are all about existing in the now.

If it already happened, it doesn’t matter. If it will happen in the future, it doesn’t matter. Right now. That’s all that matters.

Which means that, if a child doesn’t have something right now, at this very moment, it will never happen. They will forever be deprived, just like they have always been deprived of what they want. That’s a hard thing to face, especially for tiny humans who have so little experience.

Which leads us to a second reason. Being young, they have no basis for comparison. When little J’Amelia is mean to your daughter in school, it might be the worst day of her life so far. Really. She might not be exaggerating. Oh, she will experience worse (much, much worse) later in her life, but being young, she still hasn’t enjoyed all of life’s little jokes.

Young dudettes and dudes don’t have the life experience necessary to really make a good comparison between miseries. Stubbing her toe is bad and hurts, but they can’t ask themselves if it’s anywhere near as bad as that time they broke their arm. Or cut open their thumb. Or, really, anything.

Our ability to compare allows us to realize that it’s just pain and we’ve had worse, which allows us to calm down.

And, that’s another thing. We, as adults, are supposed to be rational, thinking beings. (I’m going to be nice and say most of us are, although, in my heart of hearts, I doubt it.) The brains of young kids don’t fully mature until they’re much, much older, say, around 25 or so for boys.

Unfortunately for the ears around them, their limbic system (which controls their emotions) is fully functioning, firing on all cylinders. Toddler brains become flooded with the hormones and neurotransmitters that cause pain and anger and sorrow and all the rest, but they don’t have the cognitive skill and experience to overcome that and regain control of themselves.

Looking back, I’m not sure I was able to offer much in the way of hope for struggling parents. Other than the obvious: This, too, shall pass.

And, though you doubt it in the midst of a truly epic meltdown, it will get better. All you have to do is stay relatively calm and help your little dude through his current issue.

It’s not personal. It’s just what and who they are at the moment. Keep showing good behavior, being a good role model and talking them through their experiences so they learn the right thing and . . . everything should be fine.

I’m going to do you younger parents a favor and not even bring up the teenage years here. Mostly because I’m a signatory to the Geneva Conventions and there’s some stuff up with which no one should put.

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Pregnancy Brain Is A Real Thing*

This is her brain. This is her brain on pregnancy.

When we were pregnant (and, if you’ve read that nearly-a-bestselling-book A Dude’s Guide to Babies: The New Dad’s Playbook, you’ll know it’s a two-person event, pregnancy), we liked to refer to it as PIS, or pregnancy-induced senility.

That way, she could say she PISed off and we could laugh when she locked her keys inside the car in line at the car wash and I had to leave work to come rescue her because she was crying and upset. It was that or start screaming my own self and that would have been a bad idea.

Hell might have no fury like a woman scorned, but even they run in fear of pregnant women. And it’s not simply because of the wacky hormones running amok in their bloodstream. But that is a post for another day.A woman's brain really does change during pregnancy, but I'm pretty sure that would be a bad thing to mention to an actual pregnant woman. Because pregnancy also does wacky things to their emotional lability.

What my wife, known to me as She Who Must, While Pregnant, Be Getting What She Wants So That I Might Be Allowed To Continue My Miserable Existence, and I called PIS also is known as pregnancy brain. There are those who say it is a myth.

They are, according to science, very much wrong. Pregnancy brain is real. However, it’s more than merely pregnant women forgetting stuff.

“Pregnancy brain” definitely exists, but it may not be as negative as you think. In fact, it can make you more perceptive of other people’s emotions, according to new research presented at British Psychological Society Annual Conference in the U.K. 

Pregnant women were more sensitive to facial emotion in all of the pictures, which could mean that the right hemisphere of their brains (the one usually responsible for recognizing visual emotion) was more active in them than in new moms, meaning they could process emotion from all angles. This might be the body’s way of preparing a soon-to-be mom to be more responsive to a baby once it’s born.

But, I hear you calling**, dude! That has nothing to do with putting a box of cereal away in the fridge. True, but this does.

One meta-analysis of 14 studies in 2007 found some evidence of memory impairments in pregnant women, though the findings weren’t totally consistent. Another 2010 study says that hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect your memory of spatial locations, but the research only looked at less than 50 women. 

All of which goes to show that, while pregnancy does make some demonstrable physical changes to a woman’s brain, we can’t say with certainty that it’s what causes her to forget stuff, to lose stuff, to become absent minded, to get mixed up with simple directions or any of that stuff.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say, even with conclusive scientific evidence to back you up, it’s probably a good idea to not mention any of the negative stuff that might have something to do with pregnancy brain.

If you’re not able to simply turn and run (which, oddly, seems to be my most frequently offered bit of advice for dudes dealing with pregnant women), I think your best bet would be to say that, yes, pregnancy does change a woman’s brain.

But it’s for the good. Pregnant brains are actually changing so moms-to-be can better bond with the little dude or little dudette.

Then turn and run.

Footnotes & Errata

* But don’t think that gets you off the hook for even considering the possibility of maybe mentioning it. Sort of like saying the word menopause when talking to ladies of a certain age. Not a good idea.

** But I’d better not hear you call me Beth. (Wow, that was an obscure and very old joke.)

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