Thursday, July 17, 2008

Welcome To Our Home! Please Set Your Clocks Back 50 Years

(Forgive the almost one-week gap in posting. We've been dealing with a lot of stuff around here. Stuff happens. Every day. All is good now. None of the stuff we have dealt with lately has to do with today's post. This is totally different stuff.)

If you're a teenage boy trying to gain some degree of access to a teenage girl who happens to live in our home, well, then, you'll have to come through the parents. More specifically, you'll have to deal with her father, who apparently is more fearful of teenage boys than her mother is because, as you might have guessed, he was once a teenage boy himself.
The timeless topic highlighted by the late John Ritter's sitcom apparently has not been addressed by all parents of teenage boys. And the message bears repeating, by the mother of a teenage girl.

8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter
(although in this house, we don't even use the word "dating"; we prefer "inquiring about" or "courting" or "BOTHERING"; because we're old-fashioned and crazy that way)

* Planning to call her cell phone? Don't even think about it. We have a landline for your use. Sara at the switchboard will be glad to put you through, as long as you are calling at a respectable hour and we're not on the phone ourselves. Or in bad moods.
* We do not accept phone calls after 9 p.m., unless the call is from one of my friends. In that case, anything goes, and I reserve the right to stay on the phone until midnight, if I want. But you are a teenage boy, and it's 9:01 p.m. What should you do? Go to bed. Or write a nice handwritten note. Or help your mother with some household chores.
* Texting sounds like a good option, you might be thinking. Would texting be OK? Sorry -- that's going to cost her... we slap her with a fine of $1 for every text message that comes in or out of her cell phone. Texting is a wormy form of communication, and WE HATE IT. Use your VOICE. And complete sentences. If writing, check your spelling. That stupid shorthand used in texting is an affront to our dignity.
* And here's a rule I never thought we would have to create, let alone enforce: If you call and hang up when a parent answers, you should probably expect a return phone call, which will require you to identify yourself. Do not act surprised or offended. You called us first, pal.
* My name is not "um." So when you call the landline, you might consider a more acceptable and respectful name. You can call me whatever you want after you hang up the phone.
* Remember that her parents were once teenagers -- one was wilder than the other and is therefore more cautious as a parent. Although we might occasionally appear a little dim, neither of us is STUPID.
* Beef up your arsenal of icebreakers. I am not a fan of small talk. If I answer the phone (and I will), ask me about my day. Tell me about yours. Share a funny story about your summer. I will try to top it. And then we will have ourselves a conversation.
* Go somewhere with my daughter? Like alone? Why in the world would you want to do that? We can have great fun right here! We have not one, but TWO color TVs, Scrabble, a turntable and some of that new-fangled popcorn. To make things extra special, I'll spring for some root beer and maybe mix up a batch of fudge brownies. It will be grand.