I can think of no better way to launch this blog than by posting this video that captures the particular bliss of conversing with a typical teen-aged boy.
Don’t you just love the relentless cheer of the father as he tries to connect?
The first time I saw this video was about four years ago, when my children still loved to tell me what was rumbling through their minds. I thought the video was funny, but a little bit irrelevant. My boys, I figured, would grow up to be talkers, pleading at bed-time for me not only to tickle their backs, but to stay a little longer and talk a little more about their hopes and dreams as they segued from wanting to play on the Yankees to wanting a particular girl to pay attention to them.
What was I thinking? I was thinking like a woman who grew up in a household of girls and knew nothing about boys. For me, a good conversation is a soul-baring, intimate affair, when you share insecurities and fears and get a little bit closer to each other. You tell secrets.
Now I am learning that a conversation with a teen-aged boy often doesn’t involve words at all. Sometimes when I’m reading at night, my older son will throw himself onto my bed, mumble about wanting to “talk” and then proceed to say nothing at all. He’ll tell me to ask him questions and when I do, he’ll refuse to answer. I used to find this frustrating, until I realized that this was his way of connecting. Just being with me. So now when he flops onto my bed, I put down my book. I give him little snapshots of my day, or gently ask questions about his baseball practice or one of his teachers. I rub his back, or if I’m in a good mood, give him a foot massage. And I remind myself that words aren’t the only way to connect.