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Published December 21, 2010, 12:00 AM

Parenting Perspectives: Words escape preteen

It’s a darn good thing that my oldest son and I have football to talk about or entire weeks might slip by with nothing more than unintelligible grunts and shoulder shrugs serving as our means of communication.

By: Devlyn Brooks, INFORUM

It’s a darn good thing that my oldest son and I have football to talk about or entire weeks might slip by with nothing more than unintelligible grunts and shoulder shrugs serving as our means of communication.

I enjoy talking with my son, and I believe he is interested in talking to me.

Problem is, he’s on the cusp of becoming a teenager and has entered that period in a young person’s life that renders him utterly incapable of carrying on a conversation with a parent.

I’m assuming there’s a biological explanation. … You know, a teenage hormone that, once it’s secreted, alters their brains and renders them incapable of seeing their parents as anything but an ATM. But I admit I haven’t taken the time to research it.

For instance, last week we were treated with a rare dinner together, but the conversation was comprised of me asking questions and then interpreting his monosyllabic grunts as either positive or negative responses.

Other people whom I consider wise and experienced parents assure me that my son will talk to me again. In the twilight of his adolescent years, or maybe a little after, he’ll regain his ability to speak, and we’ll enjoy meaningful, heartfelt conversations.

I’m skeptical … not because I don’t trust them, but because having witnessed firsthand how becoming a teenager has ravaged his ability to converse, I’m concerned he’ll never again talk in a meaningful way.

Nevertheless, my parenting mentors assure me that one day his vocal cords will inexplicably work again – something akin to a medical miracle, they tell me.

Until then, they say, be grateful for that little breach and exploit the heck out of his love for football. Be the football-talkingest fool around, and maybe, just maybe, every few months I can slip in a “How was school?” or a “How are you doing in math?” Maybe, they say, if I’m coy and resist the urge to dig for too much information, I won’t spook him into clamming up.

The Vikings, thankfully, have given us plenty to talk about this season, and I am grateful they haven’t solved their quarterback problem because that surely will be worth a few weeks of conversation in the off-season.

But for now, I’ll treasure these last six weeks of the National Football League season and look forward to the NFL Draft in April, which should give us a few more weeks to talk before that long, dark period until the football preseason this fall.


Devlyn Brooks works for Forum Communications Co. He lives in Moorhead with his two sons.

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