Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

The art of communication – Gen Z style February 25, 2010

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Depending on what you read, you could be mistaken for thinking that our early teenagers are in fact at the tail of Gen Y.  But now that they have declared Generation Z, Man-Child and his twin brother Teen-Child are actually the forerunners of this new generation.  Gen Z is basically the internet generation, born post 1995.  They have grown up in a digital age, so everything about it is second nature. 

Like all Gen Z-ers, my boys are the masters at multi-tasking – they can listen to their iPods, whilst watching TV, being on Facebook or downloading music from Limewire, whilst also APPARENTLY doing their homework.  Hence the reason the laptops have now been banned Monday to Thursday during the school term – so that homework has the focus it needs.  The only thing they don’t seem to be able to include in their multi-tasking is picking up their school uniforms off the bedroom floor, or putting their empty plates and cups in the dishwasher (or even within 10 feet of the kitchen)!!!

For Gen Z, the art of communication is quite different to our generation (that would be Gen X – for those of us who scraped in).  As a teenager I remember spending all my time on the phone, yes the landline, you know, home phone, cheap calls, you actually talk into it, and have an interactive two-way exchange, using the English language.  As an aside – just for your own amusement, ask a teenager what a landline is – you’d be surprised how many of them don’t know!  But then I guess they also don’t know what an LP is either do they!!!

Today, my boys talk via Skype or Facebook chat (MSN is a thing of the past for them) or via text.  They will only use the landline if their credit is out on their mobiles.  And god forbid they would ring someone else on their landline, no they persist in using the home phone to call their friends mobiles, at approx. $1 per minute.  I am constantly at pains to point out that landline calls are WAY cheaper but when you’re not paying the bills who cares right? 

Maybe I could make them pay the home phone bill including calls to mobiles?  But as I already make them pay for their own mobile phone credit (yes another total injustice by Mother of a Man-Child) I hope my point is made.

Anyway, back to communication – I do wonder with the language of texting that seems to pervade all their “conversations”, whether we are creating a generation that cannot actually hold down a real, face-to-face conversation with another human being?   Or is it merely that the medium has changed?  Chat via Facebook or MSN is still an interactive conversation – it’s just not spoken is it?  In fairness Skype is actually a next generation form of interactive communication, in so far as it includes video, but I actually like my friends not being able to watch me wander around the house doing chores whilst they talk to me, and I listen intently (really I do). 

I am trying desperately not to feel like an older generation that doesn’t understand a younger one.  After all I was on Facebook long before my kids, and MSN.  That’s what happens when you work in the digital market.  But I do expect that over time their use of technology will overtake me in leaps and bounds.  I just hope that their ability to speak in comprehensible English to their parents will remain for some time to come.


Party pooper? February 17, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mother of a Man-Child @ 11:01 pm
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Some things across the generations don’t really change.  All teenagers LOVE a good party with their friends and all teenagers HATE their parents ringing up to ensure that everything is above-board before they allow them permission to attend.

Unfortunately for my boys (man-child and teen-child), I grew up with pretty strict (and to be fair very astute and sensible) parents, who always rang up in advance of said party to chat with the parents and ensure there was appropriate supervision, etc.  I seem to recall I didn’t like it, but over time I guess I learned to endure it, probably until I was 16 or 17 years old.   Typically parties were via printed invite only – we didn’t have the internet or mobiles back then, and if you heard about a party via word of mouth it was chatting with friends face to face or even god forbid using a landline (ask a teenager what a “landline” is – many have no idea).   

These days the invitations are still mostly printed (designed on the home computer) and either emailed out or hand delivered.  Although in some instances invitations are issued via Facebook – a little too uncontrolled for my liking.  That seems akin to sending a group text message to everyone on your phone.  You are asking for trouble.

Every time there is a party for the Man-Child (and trust me has one at least every fortnight, boys and girls, from varying schools, 70-100 people) we go through the usual ritual.  From me:  Whose party is it?  Can I see the invite?  Please provide the parents name and number so I can call them.  And the response from Man-Child:  OMG.  Do you have to?  Why can’t you just let me go?   No-one elses mum rings up.  etc etc. 

To this date I have not once said he can’t attend a party – but I still get the same response every time.  That said, I have said no to some “gatherings”.  For those who don’t understand the difference, as much as I can determine, a gathering is a small informal party (up to 20 or 30 people), whilst a party is more formal and has between 70-100 attendees.  Now I have no problem per se with “gatherings”, but on the occasions Man-Child has been told he can’t attend it’s because we are either moderating his social life to ensure he has some down time,  or because it’s a last-minute invitation that I always think is a little inappropriate.  I mean how is it he can receive an invite to a gathering 2-3 hours before it starts?  Surely the parents haven’t said on a whim that little Johnny or Suzy can have a gathering tonight – and they decide that at 4pm on a Saturday afternoon?   Do the kids just continue to churn out invites via Facebook until they have filled their quota? 

And you can imagine the response from Man-Child when he gets a “no” can’t you?    M-C:  What do you mean NO!  Everyone else is going.  This is so unfair.  You have to let me go.   OMG.   What is wrong with you?  Why can’t I go?   Well I’m going anyway.  (Insert SFX of stomping feet, swearing, banging doors etc). 

Now I am not alone in doing my own form of party “policing”.  I have spoken to many of my friends who all do the same thing, so I’m not sure how many of Man-Child’s friends actually don’t?  I am always silently chuffed when I do call the parents and they assure me that they too would call as I am.  And they happily share details and reassure me that everything is in order.  Only once to date have alarm bells rang for me – the parent clearly had NO idea how to manage a party, didn’t know the number of people her child was inviting, had no controlled RSVP list, and the party was supposed to finish one hour before the stated time on the invitation.  Considering the guidelines that all the schools issue these days I have to say I was gob-smacked at their ignorance or laissez-faire attitude (actually I think it was more the former). 

Anyway, there will continue to be parties, and gatherings, and I will continue to call the parents and ask my usual questions for the next couple of years.  Hopefully Man-Child will get used to the idea, although I am a little doubtful.  Incidentally, teen-child doesn’t seem to have the same issue – maybe it’s a peer thing, or maybe they’re just different kids? 



Argue this logic….. February 12, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mother of a Man-Child @ 7:50 pm
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As is the custom in our house, I wash the kids bath towels on a regular basis.  Now I must admit here that I probably had an error of judgement when I purchased white towels recently for the kids – yes, I know, what IDIOT would buy white towels for kids?  Well me, because they go with their bathroom, with lovely stripes that match the accent colour, and I couldn’t find another dark colour that wasn’t the same as what we already had. 

Anyway, generally my kids have managed to keep the towels relatively white until the next clean, providing man-child was given his own hand towel for the copious quantities of super glue strength gel he puts in his hair on a daily basis – trust me when it’s that strong, it doesn’t come off with water, but rather sticks to all the taps and makes the towels lovely and gluey!

Just recently however, I was rendered speechless some five minutes after installing newly laundered white towels in their bathroom.  Upon entering I found man-child with a white towel on the floor, beneath his dirty wet feet, which he was wiping with gay abandon on the towel.  They weren’t wet clean feet, they were wet dirty feet – there’s a massive difference.  In scenario one, they are washed in water and then dried on the towel, in scenario two, they are simply wet so that one can wipe the dirt off on the towel – which is exactly what man-child was doing.

Once I had picked my jaw up off the bathroom floor, I enquired what he thought he was doing exactly, and did he realise he had made the towel filthy dirty in about 30 secs flat?  His response:  “Well what else do you expect, it’s a clean towel, I make it dirty, then it gets washed and comes back clean again” (or something to that effect).  To be honest I was in such a state of shock I still can’t actually recall the words very clearly. 

So there you have it, now I definitely know my place.  It’s to make white towels clean again.  I guess it goes along with cooking a hot meal every night, filling the fridge and pantry with food, miraculously returning once dirty clothes laundered and folded to wear again, etc.  Oh, and spending my Saturday nights as a taxi service – now that’s the highlight of my week!!!  (more on that in another post)

My response to the towel incident was to say that I refused to wash his towel for him ever again, and that he could keep it permanently in his room, where I didn’t have to look at it!  I don’t sound very rational do I!  Fact is the towels in our house do live on the floor anyway, in a wet heap most of the time on their bedroom floor, so I probably won’t have to enforce my threat after all.  Oh and if you’re wondering, the next kids towels I buy will be chocolate-brown. 🙂


The Locust Plague February 9, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mother of a Man-Child @ 5:40 pm
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Any mother of teenage boys will be all too familiar with the species that enters one’s kitchen once they’ve launched into the massive growth phase that is adolescence.  I kid you not there are times I can literally see my boys physically growing.  To fuel this massive growth, they of course need food.  And more food.  And more food.  We seemed to go from feeding two adults and three kids to feeding four adults and one kid overnight.  Needless to say Aldi is now a regular haunt in addition to Safeway/Coles in a vain attempt to keep the grocery bill down.

I look on with jealousy at their ability to eat full hot breakfasts of bacon and eggs on a regular basis, followed by massive lunches and dinners. And when they eat anything, it’s not just one, it’s several of everything, inhaled with the strength of a Hoover.  So if there’s anything that’s a special ingredient for that dinner party you’re having, or you need to make something specific, you best label it before the plague of locusts gets to it.  Or better still hide it – very well.  Mine seem to have an innate food sensor that means they can find almost any special treat I ferret away.  I’m sure they inherited that ability from their father – sometimes referred to as the “rat” of the house, given what goes missing late in the night (he calls it supper).

Of course the worst insult to a mother is when you put a home cooked meal on the table, only to be told that they’re not really hungry.  Gee, I wonder if that could have anything to do with the cold pizza they had after school, followed by a bowl of cereal, banana smoothie and three pieces of toast.    Just the other night Man-Child declared he just couldn’t fit any more dinner in – conveniently he had left some veggies but somehow managed to swallow his portion of the family meat pie.  I insisted he eat the veg or no dessert (now there’s a familiar threat).  His response – a simple “NO”.   Thereafter followed the familiar Mexican stand-off with Mum declaring he could stay at the table until he had finished his meal, all night if need be, and Man-Child declaring he’d happily sit there until 1am and he bet I wouldn’t still be up to watch him. 

The only solution – I told him I’m not playing this game with you.  Eat the food and leave the table.  For some bizarre reason it worked – I’m a little surprised I got away with it – and to be honest I’m not sure how much longer I will wield that power.   In the meantime I try to watch what they’re eating and when, so if the pre-dinner munchies hit you can stop them mid-mouthful and ask them to remember a man size meal is to follow shortly.  Of course you have to endure the darkest of looks when you choose to come between a man and his food.

Bon Appetit!


Calm Down! February 4, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mother of a Man-Child @ 10:36 am
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What is it about the simple words “Calm Down” that can so infuriate me?  When said by a teenager to an already irate mother, they simply fuel the fire.  And invariably my response is “Don’t you tell me to calm down……” and on it goes.

Is is that their brains simply don’t process the fact that they have already done something which has riled me (eg. not tidied their room after a third request, not picked up the bath mat or their dirty clothes off the bathroom floor – again) and therefore telling me to calm down is like shouting “duck” when I’ve already been clobbered!!!

Clearly I need to learn the art of counting to ten…..unfortunately, my own brain doesn’t function that fast when I hear these two simple words.  I’m not sure what is worse, Calm Down or my other favourite “Whatever!”. 

Oh, and if you hear them using the latest text inspired language that has entered the vernacular (CBS) pronounced “seebs”, it’s short for Can’t be Stuffed, so be on the lookout for that teenage response also. 

Maybe it’s time we got some of our own back – I heard a great phrase the other day from a mother who was sick of OPK’s (that’s Other People’s Kids), spending time at her place, staying for sleepovers, eating her out of house and home, and keeping her awake well into the early hours of the morning.    Maybe it’s time for an uprising by mothers – the unpaid slaves to our delightful teenage children.  We can call ourselves MOS – Mothers on Strike.  LOL.  🙂


It’s gotta be Bonds February 2, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mother of a Man-Child @ 10:39 am
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The people at Bonds must be in marketing heaven.  After all, if you can charge $20 for a pair of jocks, and have them so publicly displayed by your target market and freely promoting your brand, you’d be in marketing heaven too.  As are the people at Dunlop Volley I am sure. 

For those who may have been asleep for the past 12 months, the photo shows the trend I am referring to.  I’m not sure if it heralds from the original home-boy look,with the low hanging jeans, which has then morphed into a private school boy look all of their own.  In our house, only the man-child is into this look, and happily wears his Bonds above the waistline of jeans, shorts, bathers.  Our teen-child doesn’t seem fussed by the look himself. 

And if you’re thinking there are loads of mens jocks out there with the wide branded waist band, yes there is, but only Bonds cuts it in our house.   You can’t buy brand loyalty like that, for all the money you might throw at it.  Although as a marketer I’d be quite keen to know if they did seed this look with early adopters/trend setters in the market to help it take off? 

For me, I find it very difficult to justify the price – especially when the boys are now wearing mens sizes (and therefore paying mens prices).  I’m sure Bonds have made the most of the trend by inching up prices without us noticing – but that’s the key to marketing isn’t it – managing supply versus demand, so who can blame them.

As trends go I guess it’s pretty harmless – we should be thankful they at least have their jocks in place, with only their jeans hung low –  the alternative view doesn’t bear thinking about does it!