Thursday, July 13, 2006

Lessons in Raising a Teenager: Part I

I was 17 when I graduated from high school and moved out of my parent’s house. The Teenager knows this. Therefore, he believes that since he is now 17, he’s eligible for all the rights, responsibilities and privileges his mother enjoyed.

Lesson 1: Never tell your child anything about your childhood. He will use it against you.

The Teenager and his Teenager Buddies have mounted a well-planned and brilliantly executed public relations and marketing campaign to convince their parents that an unsupervised trip to Los Angeles in a rickety Ford with a bad transmission is a critical step toward their future as movie moguls.

The Teenager, in particular, displayed notable business development skills:

Smart Move #1: The Teenager first determined which of the six parents was the most likely to succumb and create a domino effect of agreement among the other parents.

Smart Move #2: Next, he determined the key points most likely to convince said parent, and developed a sales pitch complete with Excel spreadsheets and Power Point slides.

Smart Move #3: Given that Teenager Buddy J rarely strings two words together to make a thought, much less a sentence, and Teenager Buddy C has hair so wild it sends lurking coyotes yelping for the nearest dark cave, the Teenager nominated himself as the Public Relations Spokesperson.

Lesson 2: Never teach your child business sense. He will use it against you.

The conversation went something like this:

“Mom, I need to talk to you about my career in film. It’s really important for me to spend as much time in L.A. as possible to develop connections. Also, because of the set designs in my next film, I need J and C to learn more about the technical side of lighting, and there is no better show to demonstrate this than “Stomp.”


“We’ve each saved $200, we’ll drive J’s car, which is very fuel-efficient, we’ve stocked it with plenty of water and a first aid kit, and we can purchase temporary driver’s insurance so that we can all drive and no one gets too tired.”

“Isn’t that the car that you guys are always pushing out of parking spaces because it doesn’t have reverse? No.”

“We’re staying with C’s uncle who is a responsible adult.”


“We’ve planned….”


“Mom, please...will you listen to me before you say no.”

Smart Move #4: Pull the guilt card at precisely the right moment.

Anyone care to lay odds on Queen Mom and Dad-Who-Would-Be-Outlaw joining The Teenager and Teenager Buddies in a remake of The Nuclear Family Goes Skiing titled The Nuclear Family Goes to Tinseltown?


Jess Riley said...

Ha! Thanks for the warning. Sadly, I can remember myself using both tactics back in the day.

Jessie said...

Once when I was little I spent an entire summer researching and writing reports about guinea pigs trying to convince my parents to let me have one.

It worked.

But now I'll know never to tell my kid that.

haha! you're too funny. :)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'd say you might as well just go ahead and order your map to homes of the stars now. Obviously you taught him too well. In legitimate business the skills will serve him well. In Hollywood, maybe not so much.

Plantation said...

I was 18 when I took my first road trip. College was all about being on your own. Success or failure was really up to you. Maybe I'm just a wreckless parent, but I think I'd let him go and learn from whatever experiences he gains. Hell, next year he'll be 18 and on his own anyway. See you later on today :-)

Elizabeth Krecker said...

Jess and Jessie, whatever you did as a kid will surely come back to haunt you! Bill, sadly, I already own that map from the last three trips!

Plant, are you serious? Who will make him mashed potatoes? Who will wash his socks? Who will rescue him when he gets a flat tire?

OMG, I've become my mom! ;-)

Mindy Tarquini said...

Tell the Teenager that he has to complete four years of film school first, and get his degree, cum laude, before he can consider such a road trip.

Brett Battles said...

As far as my children go, I will now tell them that I was a dutiful son who lived with my parents until I was twenty-one and did everything they suggested because they were SO smart...all lies, of course, but it could be a fun reverse experiment...

...okay, I guess my parents were smart...that wasn't a lie.

Ballpoint Wren said...

Hang in there, Mom! I'm behind you all the way!

Tell him Steven Spielberg and Robert Rodriguez didn't need no stinkin' road trip to LA to develop their filmmaking skills, and they did just fine!

He should rent the DVD edition of El mariachi, the one with the "10 Minute Film School" featurette on it. And if he can't find that one, tell him to at least read this.

I do like his Excel sheets, though.

anne frasier said...

oh, yikes.

and oh to be that young again....

i love that age.

i have no advice. you don't want to stomp on that wonderfully naive enthusiasm, but you want them to stay alive.

WannabeMe said...

Aw, it ain't so bad over here. At least they're not going to Vegas.

Elizabeth Krecker said...

Brett, hope your ploy works. Just don't ever let them read your blog.

Thanks Bonnie, I can always count on you!

Anne, I agree, their enthusiasm is precious, never mind the planning. We're really in a quandary here, there's so much to encourage...and so much to fear.

And Dana, you've got a point. The last time we were in Vegas, Justin turned to me and said: "Mom, you know what? You can get ANYTHING in Vegas."

The kid's smart. Too smart. Maybe that's what scares me.

Elizabeth Krecker said...

Mindy, there's only one problem with your theory. The film school he wants to go to is IN Los Angeles. Daily road trips are a required class.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

Oh, you are so screwed.

It's got to be tough balancing the desire to keep your children safe from harm and the desire to have them grow and blossom into adults.

Obviously you've instilled in him a high degree of intelligence and business savvy. And it sounds like he's surrounded himself with easily manipulated minions. You can't go wrong with that.

Bill Cameron said...

Nothing is more unstoppable than a determined late teen. My personal technique for managing my daughter in those years was to emit a long, heavy sigh and then lock myself in the bathroom. She made it to 21, despite her best efforts, and now she has a great job and a smart, handsome boyfriend and seems to be really together. So something worked. The sighs maybe?

Elizabeth Krecker said...

*deep sigh*

Allison Brennan said...

I don't envy you. And I'm not going to laugh because I'm nearing those years with mine . . . enjoy the trip ;)

Anonymous said...

I went to Morocco when I was 15.
A real eye opener.
Was nearly kidnapped.

Learned a few things about life tho.

I'm leaning on the 'let him go and learn a few things about life' side.

Anonymous said...

Anon above was me.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

I was seventeen when I went out on my own, had my own apartment, etc. -- and neither of my kids wanted to follow in my footsteps.

Well, there was a time when my son -- at sixteen -- lived in Sweden for three months with a buddy and emailed us saying, living on your own is a breeze.

And my answer was, yeah, it is -- when somebody else is paying for it.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Oh, and Brett? My parents were smarter.

angie said...

Hahaha! Poor baby! Hate to say it, but my parents were overprotective - all it did was encourage better lying techniques and slightly delay the "gotta learn it the hard way" process. Truthfully, I'd have had an easier transition into college if I'd done a walk-about first. If your son's this together with his proposal, it sounds like he'd have enough sense to ask for help when he needs it. You can't ask for much more than that!

Elizabeth Krecker said...

Angie, I should remember that, because you described exactly my teen years! And compared to Morocco or Sweden, I suppose L.A. can't be all that bad.

Brett Battles said...

What the...? Well my dad has a Phd. in physics. So NeNerNeNerNeNer.

Cheetarah1980 said...

Forget filmmaking. Your kid is a P.R. pro. Maybe he can be my agent or something. I got the feeling he can sell water to a well.