Ah…to be a teenager. To stroll the hallways of “anywhere” high school U.S.A. is a right of passage for so many youth dying to fit in with their peers. This weekend I was out doing what adults do….running errands of course…when I noticed something that took me back to my high school days.
Let’s set the stage…a lovely Saturday afternoon, the temperature around 40 degrees and sharing the highway with me were two teenage boys, aviator glasses in-toe, and not a care in the world. What caught my attention was that these young men were driving with the top down in daddy’s car. You or I would think this behavior weird or idiotic, but I would argue that these boys were out for a bit of adventure…
To see these young men and wonder how cold they must have been on the outside made me wonder about what was going on inside. What was it that possessed these, Normal looking, teenage boys to drive around in a manner more suited for chili and a sweater? Were they trying to connect with their inner Tom Cruise? Maybe they were on a mission or maybe 40 degrees was the perfect temperature to market themselves to other teenagers…namely—GIRLS!
What would teenage girls be thinking? Dumb boys? Cool? All I know is this…young men will do just about anything to woo the girl(s) in their path. Teenage boys of today will even change their scent in ways previously thought of as feminine.
CBS Sunday Morning demonstrated this point with a story about the obsession boys have with body spray products. You know the ones…Axe Body Spray and its claim that by using it girls will fall at the feet of the user. There was a day and a time in this country when all young men smelled like were dirty socks and “cool.” Musty was the odor of choice because it communicated a rugged individualism…now we have young men spraying themselves down in a car-wash of fermones and watching “High School Musical 12”.
The goal of course is to win over the young women and to “beat out” the competition. Now…it is fair to say that Maverick and Goose on I-65 this weekend were of the mindset that cool comes in pairs…and they might be right…but the decision ultimately lies in the hands of the young women who are grading and judging every move. I mean teenage boys aren’t concerned with a young ladies father…are they?
I mean…are young men even worried these days about impressing someone, anyone other than the young lady herself? And…what would a father and young man even talk about? Cologne? The merits of High School Musical versus Grease? Or what about the latest and greatest video games or tech gadget?
Let’s face it—there may be some teenage wooing rituals and traditions that are facing extinction! At least in the ole days a father and young suitor could talk about plans for college or work or how his father was doing. They could talk about Ford or GM or spring training. But, how many fathers want to hear about a young mans desire to build a personal brand utilizing the most appropriate SEO/CRM/Social Media outlet or embedded videos?
The answer…not many! And because of the ever-growing distance between men of yesterday and boys of today the only common denominator…sad to say…is sex. There—I said it. That is right. Even our fathers thought of sex and maybe even some of them experienced sex. Now, it is important to note that this is not a commentary on teenage sex and the stance we should take. This is just an honest thought about what everyone thinks about.
Sex during high school, to the young people themselves, is often a measure of “cool.” It is the culmination of 40 degree jaunts down the highway in a convertible, the hours spent dousing fermones out of a can, and the countless time spent trying to find a bicep or two in the high school locker room. Young boys are just like those distant relatives in the jungles of our planet—always posturing for stature in the eyes of the females and to instill fear in the eyes of the competition.
The challenge for all teenagers becomes their ability to be and play smart. To make decisions that won’t shape the rest of their lives negatively and ones that they can be proud of when they are older are all a part of the teenage experience.
Sadly, so too is teenage pregnancy. So too is the song and dance between hormones and common sense—between conversation and sexual intimacy and the real-world consequences of teenage rituals and traditions.
Which brings us back to the rulebook for teenagers and courting or wooing behavior. It brings us full circle to understanding all that our children are doing and the actual motivation behind the behavior. Are you aware of it as a parent? Do you sweep it away because you did the very same things or do you overcompensate in an effort to prevent ill-fated mistakes from YOUR past?
The rulebook is pretty simple. It has a front cover, one page of text, and a back cover. The front of the book titles your intentions for your child; the body of text outlines your honest expectations and support measures you will provide; the back cover a friendly reminder that you suffered through the same issues as they and that you are not above them…but beside them as they traverse the sometimes beautiful and often sketchy landscape that is being a teenager.
All the Best!