Teen Speak: A Translation for Beginners–On Minecraft, WOW, and Other Irritants


Teen Speak: A Translation for Beginners

(The one where I talk about gaming and its continued annoyance in my otherwise perfect life)

The other day when my computer refused to charge, I used Mancub’s. As I booted it up, the computer itself seemed to cringe a little, as if wary of the new user. It was probably still hung over from last night’s Mine Craft marathon.  Immediately I was inundated with Minecraft world info…New Mods! New Servers! New Videos about the new mods and new servers! I felt like I was being yelled at by shifty carnies at the fair–my tactic is to avoid eye contact but that doesn’t matter here.  Dear Parent, if you have not heard of MineCraft, then you can just count your lucky stars. It’s one of the biggest time wasters on the entire planet. Picture everything you like about Facebook, then turn the resolution WAY down so everything looks like grainy legos. Then turn it down even more.

MineCraft itself is a world of its own. Remember how people talked about WOW? When I was taking Latin, there was this girl who sat next to me, so very confident in her Latin abilities (she was really good–I was unashamedly embarrassed of her translating skills) that she actually brought her laptop into class and played WOW during lecture. I cornered her after class and said, “Look, we’re all just thrilled to death that Latin, to you, is akin to a Dora the Explorer episode, but if you ever bring that to class again, I am going to totally rat you out. Count on it.” Mine Craft is similar to WOW in that it’s always new and exciting, and creative “mods” are introduced practically on an hourly basis, written by unwashed men who live in their mother’s basement and are far more acquainted with their online friends than annoying people IRL (in real life, for those of you who don’t know). The biggest problems on Mine Craft? People slowing down the server, the server being “down” (what will happen to our sheep??????), creepers (bad guys), and griefers (those who pillage the Mine Craft world, unfairly stealing from others who have also sat unwashed tinkering with one thing or another until they have the perfect sheep breeder or whatever. Coupled with the fact that people can actually talk to others who share their obsession AND watch hours of videos about the fascinating world of blurred legos, it can become quite a problem. Left unchecked, sleep, hygiene and skin tone can indeed suffer. When my boys play too long, they get sucked into the MC world and the real world seems…less fun.

Anyway, when I was using Nate’s computer, I was listening to music so I put on his headphones which are perfectly adapted to completely tuning out my voice unless the words “Hey….food” are heard. The Engineer comes in (he is similarly afflicted with the MIneCraft Virus) and asks me a question.

“What?” I say, much louder than necessary.

“I said, are we going to lunch?”

“Oh,” I pretend to deliberate. “I’m sorry–I didn’t hear you. I’m Mine Crafting.”

Lee is not impressed.

“Reallllly?” He says.

“Yeah. I was just talking to my friend Wart, who lives in Sarasota. We’re both sick and tired of Sasquatch29 griefing our turf. We’re trying to get him banned from the server.”

“Oh,” Lee says, trying not to grin at my completely lame attempt to speak nerd.

“Good luck with that.”

There are things you can do, dear parent. You can install a timer that shuts down the computer after a certain amount of screen time. I let Mancub play for 3 hours a day during break, only after he’s done a list of chores I’ve given him. Then, if he wants more time he has to earn it. How? By doing more chores or READING A BOOK. I took care to choose books I thought he’d like, including Ender’s Game and Divergent. It’s tough competition against a backdrop of lego pig farms, but it’s a cross he’s got to bear.


The Blog Where I Talk About Mancub and Aunt Sandi’s Surprise Visit


So I’m sitting in the car enjoying some chocolate custard with my girls and my phone rings. Incidentally, this is the day I wrote the “Choose Joy” post … so you know God was up in heaven stroking his beard and saying, “Hmmm. Let’s test this theory.”

Here’s the conversation.

Me: Hi Honey (My husband is on the phone. Thought I’d clarify so nobody starts any rumors, because I don’t call anybody Honey except Hubby, except for that time I was under anesthesia which doesn’t count).

Hubby: So guess what? (I’m a bit nervous here, because he’s using THAT voice. No, no not THAT voice, THAT THAT voice, the one that says, “I have something to tell you that is gonna freak you out.”

Me: What?

Hubby: “Aunt Sandi’s here. She’s sitting in the driveway.”

Me: What?

Aunt Sandi is Lee’s 70-year-old maternal aunt. She’s kind of like Mary Poppins in that she flies in and is gone as quickly as she came. Also, she has a huge purse, so there’s that.

Hubby: “Yep. She’s here. She said she told YOUR SON she was coming yesterday.”

My son, aka Mancub, said nothing of the sort. He suffers from short-term memory loss, which is highly selective. He can’t remember to give me field trip forms, to tell me he needs lunch money, or to let me know that Aunt Sandi is coming to visit.

Let me be clear: I love Aunt Sandi. She’s a kick. The last time she flew into town I got my first tattoo, and she got her 5th. Or 6th. Whichever. And the whole time the 20-ish year old man was inking a dragon on her right buttock she shamelessly flirted with him. I had to tell her to behave. She also speeds and has severe road rage, but she is super kind and supportive and very fun.

One of the things Mancub and Aunt Sandi discussed on this easily forgotten phone call was that he said, “No Auntie, don’t get a hotel room! That’s crazy. You can stay in MY room. No of course, I don’t mind!” Then he went back to Minecraft world where the biggest problems he encounters are creepers and griefers. Sounds like my high school years.

Do you have a Mancub or Watergirl? You do? I’m sure at your house, your Mancub freaking DELIGHTS in cleaning his room, starting online competitions with his equally squeaky clean friends over who has the tightest bed sheets and the Shinyest Toilet Seat Award.

The last time I went in his room, it had that weird smell–you know the one. It’s a curious blend of sweaty socks, damp towels, old nachos and testosterone. The Exxon Station on the corner has a cleaner bathroom. There was a sad collection of empty toilet paper rolls stowed away behind the toilet, victims of the use and toss method.

You’d be so proud of me, though. I took a deep breath and counted to 10,000. I was only sobbing in the fetal position for ten minutes. That’s like a record for me.

Hubby is totally laid back about the whole thing. When he got home from work, he entered the house with the laizze fare of the mayor in the 4th of July Parade. I was surprised when he didn’t throw cheap candy to the crowd. Very rarely has Hubby EVER gotten upset…he’s a roll-with-the-punches kind of guy–even Steven. So I gave him a toilet plunger and pointed toward Mancub, whom I was fairly sure I was never going to see again in his Hoarders: Buried Alive room. At one point I opened the door a crack and threw in a couple of sandwiches and some hand sanitizer but that’s it. Those boys were on their own.

We always have such fun when Sandi visits. She shakes up the routine and we can’t help having a good time.

And Mancub’s bathroom is pretty clean for a couple of days–so win/win.

Your Teen and the Chore Question



(Photo: my “clean” kitchen). Mancub is supposed to clean the kitchen before he goes to bed. However, there is a huge canyon between what he sees as clean and what I see as clean. Think Grand Canyon sized. So we’ve been cheerfully chatting about what “clean” means. I’m sure you’re picking up on my tone here…about as cheerful as a millionaire on tax day. Sometimes, enforcing chores makes for a rough night.
What I view as clean, Mancub views as hospital sterile. White glove inspection winner. You get the drift.What he views as clean is somewhere between an episode of Hoarders and moving day for the Gosslins.

We have got to find a happy medium here if we want peace to return to the jungle. It’s not just him; it’s the species. Teens naturally do not want to take time away from more worthy pursuits such as Mine Craft and Skyping with their Watergirls. On a scale from 1-10, I’d say finishing up chores is somewhere around -150.
I realize not everyone agrees with having their teens do chores. One of my friends just does everything herself to avoid the never-ending heartache of trying to make her teens help out around the house. Sometimes, admittedly, it’s similar to trying to rope a rattlesnake or to go cat fishing with your bare hands. Remember that show “Hillbilly Hand Fishing”? A breeze compared to getting your teen to cooperate on the chore thing.
I just feel like it’s important that Mancub learn to do these tasks of doing chores, and that learning to do things you don’t like to do is just part of life. I for one do not enjoy squishing my hands through 2 pounds of hamburger in order to make the perfect meatloaf, but cubs gotta eat.

How do you solve the chore question? I’d love to hear what works or doesn’t work in your jungle!