Me [checking WordPress stats]: Your ‘Teenage Tuesdays’ are without doubt my most popular posts. Him: That’s great Mum. Me: People love them- I get so many comments- they think you’re hilarious, they love you! Him: Wait, who are all these people? Me [bragging a little I admit]: I’ve got Followers all over America, in Canada, England, Europe in general, Australia too of course… nearly 650 now… Him: Hold on; I don’t know if I like all those people knowing stuff about me, and the things I say. Me: But… I… um… Him: It’s starting to feel like you’re just making notes about me to write on your blog; you’re not valuing sharing the funny moments with me, as they actually happen. Me: But… I… um… Him: And what does it say about your creativity Mum? You’re just quoting me. I thought your blog was about your life and viewpoint; surely using me and mine defeats the purpose? Me: Um… PAUSE Him: I don’t think you should do ‘Teenage Tuesdays’ any more, it’s not serving you.
Him: Mum, I really need to cleanse and do a facial; my skin feels dirty from all the pollution… [after one week in Sydney] LATER [having worked his way systematically through a variety of my locally-made, organic skin-care products] Him: Feel my face now, how soft is it hey? I don’t like the smell of all your creams though; they actually smell of nothing, but in a health food store kinda way
Me: So how’s it going with your new, internet-free phone Honey? My blog readers loved it! They’re very proud of you; we have “Teenage Tuesday” now, so they’re all up to date on you. Him: [*smirks and rolls eyes, but obviously kinda pleased] PAUSE Him: [*staring at me in a way that I know means he’s up to something…] You know Mum, if ever you ‘monetize’ your blog, I want 50%. Oh, and that’s backdated, OK.
Me: You really need to get a new battery for your smartphone honey, it’s very frustrating not being able to get hold of you sometimes. Him: No Mum. I’ve decided I want to buy a cheap phone without internet facilities; I’m sick of being reachable in so many ways by so many people. And the social media just distracts me. Call me ‘The Backlash’.
Me: Honey, you need to wipe up please. Don’t you have to do chores at Dad’s? Him: Are you kidding me? I have to empty the dishwasher, make my own school lunch, feed the dogs, AND babysit my two brothers; it’s like Boot Camp up there!
How much screen time? According to the Washington Post in 2015, teenagers spend an average of 9 hours a day looking at screens. NINE HOURS. (Children aged 8-12 are on about 6 hours). It’s 2017, so I’d guess the times are slightly higher now. Adults are on approx 4 hours a day in their leisure time, but obviously more if they sit at a desk with computer in front of them. Here in Australia, we have a particularly high engagement with our smartphones; some estimates are up to 10 hours a day (Source: ABC News May 14 2016). It’s simple: switch off the wifi When my son was approaching his teens, and had been given his first smart-ish phone by his Dad’s family for Xmas (which I had no say in unfortunately), a wise friend with a son 7 years older than mine gave me this advice: no screens in the bedroom. Brilliant. Don’t let them lock themselves away with TVs or laptops plus smartphones; some kids text and message each other at 2am on a …
The scene: Kitchen, breakfast routine underway before school, radio playing Him [suddenly lunging at radio & turning it up loud]: I love this band! Me [having heard only 2 notes of song]: Who’s this? And how did you know who it was so fast? Him: Because it was the beat that says ‘This is totally this song’.
Me: I’m glad you didn’t have a party while I was away, & you did a great job on leaving the house tidy, but I’m fussy about the kitchen bench tops for a reason, and look, you’ve somehow made a big, permanent stain Him: Oh shit! Sorry Mum. How did I do that? Me: I dunno Sweetie, but that’s why I nag you not to put hot pans straight on the counter. If you were renting this place, you’d get money deducted from your rental bond for that, just so you know… PAUSE Him: Well, when you rent it cheap to me to go live in France or Bali, I’m going to paint it all white, so it doesn’t really matter now does it?
Did he have a party while I was away, like I worried HERE? I don’t believe he did. (And there was a small search for evidence, I admit). However, my bedroom door was open (I’d left it closed), and the bed was made (I’d left it stripped to air). Me: So what happened in my room? Him: Nothing Mum I swear! I’d never let anyone in there, that’s gross. But I was really tired from the party the night before at ‘B’s’ house, and I wanted a good sleep, so I got into your bed… I slept so well, and it smelt of you too… It was very cosy. Me *Can’t continue conversation- gone all soft and gooey*
Me: Remember I’m going to Perth for a week’s work tomorrow, which means you can’t stay home here alone, you gotta go back to Dad’s. Him: Mum, I’m nearly 18, I can look after myself… Me: You’re not 18! You only just turned 17; you’re still too young. PAUSE Him: I’m 17 and a half actually. Me: [counting months on my fingers] OK, you’re 17 and 4 months… LONG PAUSE Him: Well, in my mind I’m already 30, so what’s your point Mum?