Oh my God! Can a fifteen-year-old talk or what? I mean about anything and everything and nothing all at the same time. And no matter what you say they have an argument for it, about it, against it, and around it. Ryan is no exception. The worst part is he talks like he knows what he’s talking about but doesn’t realize how blatantly obvious it is that he doesn’t have a clue.
I’ve been that mom, the one who corrects him. Foolish me thinking the boy was looking into his brain and trying to carry on an intelligent conversation but had misinformation. He wasn’t interested in information or even what he was saying. He was interested in sounding like an adult. He is interested in people thinking he is worldly and experienced and has some basis of knowledge from which he is speaking. How dare I wound his pride, his very passage to manhood, by calling his prowess into question.
While most parents wonder if their child is lying about where they are going, who they are going with, and what they are doing when they get there I’m worrying about stepping on my son’s pride by informing him that it’s not a Camaro from the sixties but a Firebird from the seventies. I must consider if it is beneficial for him to know it would take more than a 45 minute shop period to bore out the cylinders and rebuild the engine in a Ford F-150. Should I tell him the chances of the forestry class catching a chipmunk by chasing it through the underbrush along the stone wall at the edge of the school is less than a million to one? Could it be true that no less than seven girls in his class consider him a serious love interest? And the other day when he put in his contacts for the first time and had his hair cut four inches shorter that his teacher who has been looking at him for the last six weeks thought he was a transfer student from another school and gave him all of the class material again and informed him he would have to change his seat because the one he was in was taken by a young man who wasn’t in class yet?
I’m that mom, the one who can’t keep her mouth shut. “So when you ran the three minute mile today in gym did your teacher start doing cartwheels, call Guinness, and sign you up for the track team?” My dad smiled into his fork full of mashed potatoes, my mother looked dumbfounded and Ryan merely raised an eyebrow and asked why. I tried to explain the threshold of the four-minute mile. Standard teenage response, ‘I know what my time was. You never believe anything I say. You’re always right.’ Important to note here Ryan has asthma, doesn’t play any sports, and hardly ever goes outside except to ride the lawn mower, yes ride. He’s not fat or out of shape but I wouldn’t say he’s in any kind of shape to run a seven minute mile never mind a three minute mile.
Seeking professional help with the situation, which inevitably denigrates into what my husband lovingly refers to as a pissing contest, I was given a cliché. I know, you pay someone to help you deal with things that seem so beyond the realm of what we’re trained to do by Better Homes And Gardenias and you get a cliché. Silence is a virtue, a virtue, which my French and Portuguese lineage is not prone to having. I am a cliché, loud and rude. Knowing this to be true the follow up professional advice was, ‘I know it’s going to be hard and Lord knows by the end of the week your tongue may be hamburger but, for peace sake, bite your tongue.’
For the first week it was hard, really hard. I would get midway through the sentence and stop myself by actually putting my tongue between my teeth. By week two I was stopping with my mouth open and no sound coming out. By week three the sly little fox figured me out. The peace I had so carefully cultivated at the cost of five or six hundred taste buds was in jeopardy from one little unforeseen glitch, the need of validation. The silence is now shattered on a regular basis by the repeated question, ‘What do you think?’
“What I think is that the lying all the time makes you sound dumb. And, as you know, I believe there is a difference between dumb and stupid. Stupid is not knowing better. Dumb is knowing better but doing it anyway. Even though you use the key or buzz words you picked up on television you are not using them correctly and the basic ideas you are trying to convince us of are flawed. I think you need to sensor yourself and stop talking when you don’t know what it is your talking about. Don’t make stuff up to fill in the blanks.”
Oh that was bad: bad, bad, bad, I forgot to bite!