“Oh, you have a teenager?!”
We're in line at the elementary school office waiting to explain why our respective little darlings are late, when I announce with some bravado to a mother I've never met that my other child is a (!) high schooler. Eyebrows are raised, curiosity piqued. Most parents at my first grade daughter’s elementary have little kids, such cute little kids. Those parents— so hopeful, so innocent! — wouldn’t know a hormone-packin’ teen if he skateboarded across their toes at the mall.
"Yes,” I answer, “I certainly do. He is a 100 percent certified teen.”
“Oh, I know who you are!” she says, wide-eyed with excitement, as if she’s just figured out she’s standing next to Lady Gaga, right here in our elementary school. “You’re the dumbest person on the planet!”
For a split second I am taken aback. But then I get it. “Why yes, I am,” I say, as we both crack up. How does she know something about me that only my teen has previously divined? It wasn’t always thus. Two-and-a-half years ago, I was smart, or smart-ish. But then, the very day my son turned 13 in fact, my IQ apparently plummeted, because only dumb people say such ridiculously clueless things like, “Where do you want to go out for your birthday dinner?”
The look of incredulity! “Why would I want to go out to dinner on my birthday?” he asks, dumbfounded.
"Because our family always goes out to dinner on birth-…" I begin to explain, stupidly, but he has already walked out of the room shaking his head. I know. I have rarely suggested such an idiotic idea. I didn’t know that encounter would presage so many like it over the coming years. Many times, I have defended myself, given him the what for (“That is so rude! Don’t speak to me like that!”), but clearly this technique is imbecilic, because nothing I say, even when I present the most logical arguments make a wit of difference.
Here are other things the dumbest person on the planet does:
- His older teen cousin tells me about something funny he saw online so I think, recklessly, I should tell my son about it! “Have you seen EpicMealTime on YouTube?” I text. “Oh my God, Mom…Epic Mealtime was cool in like 2011” I M 2 moronic 4 words.
- Wears very tiny, very hip – DPOTP thinks proudly – sunglasses at the Outside Lands concert she kindly takes her musician son to. “Um, Mom, those glasses…did you notice everybody but you has Ray Bans on? No one’s wearing little sunglasses.” No, up until that moment, I had not noticed. And suddenly I also I notice that I’m at least 20 years older than anyone there, which makes me not only the oldest person at the concert, but the, well, you know…
- Asks: “Do you want a blueberry yogurt in your lunch?” Yes, I actually said that. He gasps at me, horrified, as you would a sick, small animal with oozing pustules. It’s too much, really, this living on the planet with the dumbest person who happens to be standing just two feet away from you.
I could go on, but why torture myself? Besides, it’s not just my declining brain-power that I’m worried about. It’s become clear that something is very wrong with my voice.
Even when we're in the same room, my son can’t seem to hear me. “Hello!” I say when he gets home from school, “How was your day?” He continues riffling through a kitchen cabinet, hearing nothing. I repeat myself, this time raising my voice and speaking slowly, as I would to a foreigner. It’s no use. He doesn’t respond but walks out of the room as if I’m invisible. I really am a mess. I better shape up before my daughter turns 13.Follow @LeslieMCrawford