Son, you have the best parents ever. All the other parents are just mumbling under their breath, “I can’t wait until Billy has kids of his own, then he’ll understand. Then it’ll be payback time!” I, on the other hand, am giving you the tools you’ll need to make sense of your Terrible Tween and his terrible Tween logic, should you choose to procreate some day. Trust me, it’ll save you tons of agony.
What other parent would provide such information and forgo the satisfaction of watching their grown-up child suffer at the hands of their own offspring?*
The following is a conversation I’m sure you’ll recognize. Have a read, then I’ll give you a bit of advice that should help you avoid the urge to jam a screwdriver in your eyes when you have the very same discussion with your own future tween.
Dad, I NEED Grand Theft Auto
This again? Well, as I said before, you can’t get Grand Theft Auto.
Well, as I also said before, it’s a totally inappropriate game for someone your age.
But you don’t understand, I won’t do any of the bad stuff.
As I said last time you said that, it’s not that simple; the game is pretty much only bad stuff, so, no you won’t be getting it.
That’s not fair! Didn’t you hear me? I just promised I wouldn’t do the bad stuff.
I heard you making that promise, but you won’t be able to keep it because all you can do in the game is bad stuff.
You don’t understand! If you understood, you’d let me get it.
Well, then, I don’t understand and the answer is no.
But why not?
Really? We’re back to “Why not?” I already told you why. I’m sorry you don’t like my reason. You’re not getting the game.
But Dad, you aren’t listening to me! Why don’t you just listen to me for once?
I did listen and you failed to convince me and the answer is no.
Why can’t I have parents that care about me, like other kids have?
Oh, we care and that’s why we aren’t getting you Grand Theft Auto.
Yeah, right. If you care so much why don’t you listen to me? You hate me, that’s why. Admit it. Would you just LISTEN to me for once?!
Is what you’re going to say this time different from all the other times? Because I heard you all the other times.
Yes. It’s different.
I’m all ears, then. Go ahead, say what you want to say.
OK…I really need Grand Theft Auto.
Honey, have you seen my screwdriver?
Now, I know your side of the conversation makes total sense to you right now. But trust me, when you’re all grown up and that’s your kid, you’ll be reaching for the screwdriver real fast.
Granted, the biggest mistake in this example was allowing the conversation to happen in the first place. It shouldn’t have even made it past the first “why not.” But I’ve never been a fan of “because I said so,” and I keep thinking that someday the logic centers of a child’s brain have to start working.
Then, I realize that the problem isn’t tween logic, it’s tween language.
When you’re a grown-up, I want you to re-read the conversation, but every time the kid says, “understand” replace it with “agree”, and every time the kid says, “listen” or “listening” replace it with “do what I want” or “doing what I want.” Finally, replace “care about me” with “let me have my way.”
Makes sense now, doesn’t it?
* In the interest of full disclosure:
I’ll still be getting my sweet revenge, but I sure as hell am not waiting until you have kids to get it. Nope, I’ll be making early withdrawals on the Bank of Payback’s A Bitch: I’ll be chaperoning every one of your dates throughout high school.