Teen Speak: A Translation for Beginners

Teen Speak: A Translation for Beginners

Tracking Your Mancub/Watergirl

Sometimes, keeping tabs on your Mancub is akin to trying to catch a greased pig in a swimming pool filled with Jello. You know he’s around somewhere—you can see the wake of his destruction—and chasing him SEEMED to be a good idea at the time. I mean, greased pigs can’t stay in pool of Jello (however delicious) for unlimited amounts of time, can they? The Jello itself is not good for you and it’s really messy.

I may be mixing some pretty serious metaphors here. First, don’t think I’m really calling Mancubs (or Watergirls) pigs. “Chasing a greased pig” is an old Southerny-type expression which refers to something that is inherently difficult. It’s also a game that they used to play on Little House in the Prairie, right before Pa took out his fiddle and everyone square danced themselves into oblivion.

But I digress.

Your Mancub wants to be a man. The last thing he needs (or so he thinks) is his Mama Bear or Papa Bear keeping tabs on him. He’ll resist this idea, to be sure. He wants to stretch that bungee cord that connects you as much as humanly possible, with the hopes that it will eventually snap, giving him his desired freedom from your nagging and authority and, through no fault of his own, slapping you in your middle-aged forehead.

There is a happy medium, dear parent, between needy helicopter psycho mom and laid-back “boys will be boys…let’s have some wine…I’ve done all I can do here.”

Not that I’m saying wine is a bad thing. I personally think that a glass of wine a day keeps the crazy away.

It’s true that when I was a kid (oh geez…don’t go there), my parents had little clue what I was up to or where I was at any given time. Part of this had to do with the fact that I was growing up in the 1980s and technology as we know it didn’t exist. Our parents couldn’t debate the pros and cons of kid tracking like they can today because … well, they seemed lots busier then and we were just a lot less supervised. I don’t know why. My best friend Pearl and I used to ride our almost identical bikes around town all day long, and nobody had the foggiest clue where we were. Maybe our parents hoped we would “get lost” like an overwhelmingly majority of my pets did. But we just kept coming back. Something about food and a comfortable bed.

 I didn’t have a cell phone, because they didn’t exist until my late teens, and even those were brick-like appliances roughly the size of a small dishwasher that you had to pull a giant antenna out and look for a signal, much like E.T. trying to phone home.

(Photo: Picture of an actual cell phone made in 1983. It weighed approximately 200 pounds. We were told to never use one, because it was certain that those who used these space-agey devices would suffer from brain cancer or at the very least stupidity.)

It didn’t matter that we couldn’t use a cell phone. Nobody had these unless you were on a Lethal Weapon movie or working for the government or possibly a drug dealer or otherwise “up to something.” So it was a moot point. Our parents could have also said, “If you see a spaceship, don’t go inside.” Having a cell phone of our own seemed at least as possible (or maybe less so) than having contact with alien life forces.

This has all changed. Most kids have cell phones and many have their own computers. Not all, but most. Most kids who have cell phones have smart phones, more powerful than the “computers” we saw in movies when I was a kid—computers that had the power to BLOW UP THE ENTIRE WORLD.

War Games is funny now, but then…it played on our parent’s fears of computers becoming too powerful and taking over human consciousness. Our parents, the Baby Boomer generation, had little trust for government and highly valued privacy. We laughed at their old-fashioned ways and told them that computers would never “take over the world.” I mean, that’s just laughable, right?

Ok, never mind. That’s a different blog. My point is, dear parent, that you should know where your kid is, and if he or she has a cell phone, it’s pretty easy to find them.

The first step is to send a text or call them on the phone you purchased and paid for. In a perfect world, they will always text back when you call them, and respond right away, and never let you worry for a second.

If that’s your kid you can quit reading here, and if you are Catholic, you can start googling “Nunneries Near Me” or “When Your Kid Becomes a Priest.”

Sometimes, though, your Mancub might not call back right away. This is normal for the species. He also might ignore your texts or even PRETEND NOT TO SEE YOU DRIVING UP TO THE SCHOOL so he can say a tearful goodbye to his Watergirl. This is also normal. I’m not saying it’s acceptable. It must be addressed.

Your Mancub may need a gentle reminder that all good things come from you, Mama Bear, (or Papa Bear) or Mother Nature…I’ve used all these to refer to myself. A boy that texts 23 hours out of a given day (he has to eat sometime) can all of a sudden develop “Selective Temporary Blindness/Deafness/Muteness.” This is also a temporary condition that is usually resolved when you locate him and remove the cause of the illness (the cell phone). Sometimes, in more severe cases, you may have to remove all screens (including computer and television) to initiate a complete recovery.

More on Tracking Your Mancub in the next edition of Teen Speak.