Friday, May 29, 2015

Real Life Conversations with a Teenager: Why Are You This Way? edition

The backstory: Though he is often a very pleasant companion, sometimes I’m reminded that living with a 15 year old is still a landmine, as was the case when JT and I discussed the 10th grade summer reading list.  It requires the students to read two books and then choose a third from a small list of classics that seems exceptionally appealing to boys (we’re talking All Quiet on the Western Front, A Farewell to Arms, David Copperfield).

Me:  It looks like a pretty good list.

JT:  The second list is short.

At this juncture, because his tone suggests that the short list is a grave injustice and I am aware that teachers often blow off the third summer reading book, I cheerfully encourage open rebellion.  I do this because he’s a teenager, a sect known for sometimes enjoying a flouting of the rules.  And because a short reading list of decent books seems just fine to me, a point I made when this conversation began.

Me:  So read something from the long list instead.

JT (in an exceptionally scornful tone that suggests he is being raised by a simpleton who understands very little about formal education):  We’re. supposed. to. read. from. THE. SHORT. LIST.

Me (now trying to figure out how this seemingly short throw-away conversation has turned into yet another example of how I don’t get it):  Got it.

A quiet descends.  But the boy might be just as mystified as I am by how this conversation played out because few minutes later, he crawls into his bed and calls, “Good night.  I love you, Mama. See you in the morning.”  As I have for years, I reply, “Not if I see you first.  I love you, son.”  And all was quiet on the Sassafras House front.

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