Several years ago, I read a book that changed my perspective of raising teenagers. The Primal Teen is a book that explains in new ways what is going on inside of the mind of adolescents, and, in many ways, rewrites the way in which we look at, and can interact with teens.
Earlier this week, I had a classically bizarre conversation with one of my teenage daughters that illustrates the strange, mysterious, and comical workings of the adolescent brain. We were driving to school, and discussing her preparation for a significant history test that is coming up later in the week. This is early nineteenth century American history, and her history teacher is a great fellow who really pushes his students to think and learn. My daughter (who will remain nameless to partially protect her strangeness) asked me to help her prepare for the test by reviewing her textbook and quizzing her. So, the night before, I had reviewed the history text, in preparation for our pending study time together.
However, my efforts to help, little to my knowledge, were to soon collide with the strange workings of her adolescent brain and Teenage Bizzaro Land, a place we often visit. It is a very strange place.
As we drove to school, our conversation went thusly:
Me: Ok, so I looked through your history textbook last night. Have you seen the references they have in the text to book publishers’ web pages, where you can go and take quizzes related to the material in each chapter?
Daughter: What? Huh?
Me: Have you READ the textbook? There are web page references every couple of pages, they show you where you can go online to get further information and take quizzes. I looked at the web pages, and they seem really helpful. You should check them out.
Daughter: What are you talking about? What web pages? Where? Huh? Didn’t YOU read the textbook?
Me: Yes, I have read the textbook, that is what I did last night. Did you know that the textbook has a bunch of additional web resources to HELP YOU STUDY? Did you see those?
Daughter: Da-ad! (Note: My name is often pronounced in two syllables, as a implied sign of my near complete stupidity, irrelevance, and general dorkiness) What?! You said I should not read the textbook? What the heck!?
Me: Nooooo! (Now on the verge of laughing out loud and having a stroke at the same time) I did NOT say you should not read the book! Now I am wondering if YOU have!? You haven’t seen the web page references in the textbook, there are like ten of them, every couple of pages, in glow-in-the-dark colors, right there in the two chapters you need to know! What HAVE you been reading and studying?
Daughter: (Now getting the textbook out of her backpack) What the heck!? What are you talking about? How can I study if you don’t think I should read the textbook? (Shuffling through the textbook pages…….awkward pause, as her eyes find the web page references I was mentioning) What the heck…..no, I have not looked at these! Duh! Besides, everyone says these things are stupid to review.
Me: (See note below) Ok, honey, lets just study the material together later tonight.
Note: I had barely enough wisdom, to see beyond my confusion to understand that I was, yet again, confronted with the teenage anthem song “Everyone Says!”
Neuroscientists tell us that chemical connections and development inside the adolescent brain are not complete until the early to mid-20s for girls. I am here to vouch for that.
Nevertheless, I love my girls more than I could ever say, and I am deeply thankful for their apparent nuttiness. Every day.