I’ve mentioned that I have this kid, the thirteener who is soon to be a fourteener, named Ryan. Well, this guy, Ry, has a Dickensian effect on our home. He brings us the best of times and the worst of times. I chalk most of this Dickens business up to his teendom. Or is it teenagerdom?
Excuse me, but I need an aside about words. Did you realize that, when typed, both “teendom” and “teenagerdom” generate squiggly red lines underneath them? This means I have either misspelled or invented a word. I ask with the voice of a million adults, “Have we been a species that frequently lives past age twelve for this long and still not dedicated a ‘-dom’ word for the state of being a teenager?” Stardom is the state of being a star. That got a word. What the hell gives with no “teendom”? Maybe I’ll find that it exists if I try something that sounds the same but is spelled differently.
I’ll be damned. It generates a squiggly line, too. I guess I’ll just have to select my own preferred spelling for this new, handy word I’ve invented. Really not sure which way I’ll go on this, teendom or teendumb. It’s two really good options. I’ll need some time to think. You call Vegas and start calculating the odds of my selection of one versus the other.
In the meantime, a story. Settle in.
Recently we lived a chapter of Ryan’s teendom/teendumb, and I dub this chapter, “The Hunt for the Red Hat.”
Ry is a baseball guy. He loves it. He’s fine at it. We love to watch him and his teammates play. Through baseball we’ve met family after family that we really enjoy. Our experience with this youth sport runs counter to every media horror story that would lead you to believe that parents in sports are assholes, pardon, and their kids are little…whatever falls from them and lands nearby. (<–I’ll admit that didn’t come out so well.)
To the contrary, the parents we’ve met are like pleasant trees and their apple-kids don’t fall far from them. These great families will cheer for your kid, chat with you in the bleachers, share rides willingly, and, as I recently learned, assure you that the craziness you are going through looks a lot like the craziness they are going through as well. Trees, not A-holes.
On the day we lived the hunt for the red hat there was a 4:30 weeknight baseball game. This creates a real time crunch for Ryan and his many after-school needs. To top it off, he discovered as he prepped to leave that…horrors…his hat was M.I.A.
He “looked” in his room, the basement, his baseball bag, etc. He quickly became frantic and furious. I’ll be honest, I knew he had to poop. Knowing this, my tolerance level was uncharacteristically high. (I’ve learned from other middle school parents that after school poop time is a thing for nearly all of them, not just my guy Ry.)
Then, out it came! His frustration and teendumb, that is. Not his poop. I’m not writing about that because, believe it or not, I do have my limits. No, what came out of Ry was a series of logic-lacking orders, fueled by nerves over being late. He squawked at me to start looking with him. Except, everywhere I attempted to look he yelled, “It’s not there!” He was huffing. He was groaning. All ten of his eyes were rolling like the marbles that were simultaneously falling out of my head. Apparently I was getting it all wrong–what with my looking and…you know…trying to find the hat. I’d go to look somewhere else and he’d yell, “I already looked there!”
At the risk of sounding defensive, I looked while being squawked at. I had to skip the sort of obvious places because he was CERTAIN that he had already searched them. I was left with looking in the backs of drawers, even removing one. I was looking on top of his closet shelf. I even put.my.head.under.his.bed.
No red hat.
Finally, someone had to call off the hunt for the red hat. I emailed the team to see if anyone had a spare, told Ry to grab an alternate hat and then we were just going to get the eff to the ball fields where everything is better. At the ball fields there are, like, flowers and butterflies and rainbows and ferries (but no dogs or peanuts)!
Once there, with him skipping over to join the team and me sitting in the stands among parents, it felt like someone was piping this over the PA system:
Edvard Grieg, you composed the soundtrack of my peace. Ball fields, you are an oasis!
Hey! Back to the story. You’ll recall that prior to leaving for the fields I had emailed team parents to see if anyone had a spare hat. In my email to parents I waved the white flag and asked if anyone could bail us out. I gave a snippet of the scene. It did not produce a hat for the night, but it generated something I needed even more: understanding and camaraderie.
It was a gift to discover that so many parents related to the email that went out. I had an offer of a red hat for the weekend if it was still needed, plus several notes from parents saying they were checking their hat vault. There were also notes to say the email was appreciated because…the same scene could have played out at their home on any given night.
Do you hear it? It’s Grieg again!
It turns out that other homes and others’ teens experience the same brand of kooky at times. Yet, I see these kids at games and such, and they seem nothing like morons to me. And it turns out my kid doesn’t seem like a moron to the other parents, or so they say. How very reassuring to me. All of it.
As long as there are teens and there is teendumb (okay, teendom since I’m feeling all pastoral from the music) we parents have got to remember to give each other the uplift of support. How good to know that the crazy tale of our kids in “the moment” is a lot like everyone’s story, only with a twist. And the kids will all be okay. We will all be okay. It is actually okay right now. Honestly!
That’s the point here. But I don’t call this “Many Pointed Things” for nothing. I’ll go beside the point and make another. I know there are Verns who want to know about the hat. (The Vern reference will make sense if you read my December post, entitled, “Good Question, Vern” which can be found athttps://meredithmtemple.wordpress.com/2014/12/ )
So, Vern, the hat was found after the game that same night, when Brad came home from out of state. It took him fewer than 20 seconds to find the red hat on Ryan’s floor. It was under a little cinch-sack and really should have been seen by Ry, and probably by me as well. Except, remember, not to sound defensive, but I was looking under duress (the squawking…my God, the squawking) and in the hard-to-find places.
Brad spotted the elusive red hat immediately and there I was, wondering if I should consider my poor searching skills as a bad moment in parentdom or just another moment in parentdumb. But that’s another chapter.