The short holiday week won this week, and I can’t seem to get my thoughts together for this space. Therefore, here’s an older column from January 2021 of some experiences with my sons, who are now 15 and 14 years old.
The 12-year-old kid in the house has a different view of independence than his parents.
Independence is something to be earned not given. In Beckett’s mind, he should be allowed to do what he wants simply because a friend or two can. Entitlement comes to mind when listening to his rationalization.
If a friend can stay on his phone until 11 p.m. on a school night, our son thinks he should as well. If a group of friends can walk around town past dark, he thinks he’s entitled to as well. If a friend can download a violent game on the Xbox, he feels inclined to do the same without permission. The list of examples grows daily, but he’s 12 years old and there are certain things he should not be able to do.
There’s no question kids are growing up too fast these days, thanks to social media. There is much more to discover at young ages these days. Our pre-teen knows far too much about far too many adult things than he should. Kids his age have a lot of access at their fingertips and they can communicate amongst themselves easily these days compared to when I was growing up.
When I was Beckett’s age, there was the neighborhood, school, sports and a landline phone. These were the ways I talked with friends. Nowadays, there’s all those options but also cell phones, Snapchat, text, Facetime, videogaming and other apps.
These opportunities do not necessarily mean there is maturation along the way. That’s why at his age we are suspicious of our kid, eavesdrop on his conversations and monitor his phone daily including being able to see where he is at any given time. If he deletes or hides messages or turns off the app disabling his location settings, he loses his phone. We are not being strict in our mind. We are being responsible and logical.
Beckett abhors the consistent oversight. He is fond of telling us we do not trust him and stricter than his friends’ parents. We agree, pointing to instances in the recent past when he has not been straight with us. He has been caught in flat lies occasionally, but most of the time it’s just not telling us everything he should intentionally. Although that sounds like the same thing, there are slight differences than outright lying.
One morning Beckett asked politely for me to stop opening his snaps on Snapchat at night. I told him I can’t do that because he’s 12 years old and we need to know what’s happening to keep him safe. He then tried to explain how it works. He said not replying to an opened snap is akin to telling friends you are disinterested and don’t care about what they are saying. He said it’s like ignoring someone. I told him I understand what it’s like to be ignored (since I am a parent), but it’s not a huge deal to not respond to so-and-so’s picture of an ‘S’ (signifying the continuation of a streak and continuous days of communication).
As an attempt at compromise, I told him I would screenshot any snap I opened. He rolled his eyes and said that would be even worse before saying “fine” and storming off. I later looked and discovered it’s a no-no evidently in the snapchat world to screenshot a snap.
I can’t say this is an aspect of parenting I adore.
“To get better at skateboarding.”
That was the response from Beckett, 12, when I asked him what his New Year’s resolution was for 2021.
When I asked Carson, 11, he just pointed back at me, wanting to know mine. I said it was to lose weight I had gained over the pandemic. He needed to think about it.
I initiated the conversation with my kids after coming across an article about funny New Year’s Eve resolutions from kids. Since my own boys offered nothing interesting, I figured I would share some I found noteworthy from a variety of online sites.
Joey, 10: My New Year’s resolution is to not eat as much sugar. But I probably won’t keep it.
Hadssah, 7: I am going to stop picking my nose. It is going to be hard.
Declan, 11; My New Year’s resolution is to eat 10 bags of clementines each month.
Kendra, 6: So? What is the point of making resolutions if you never really keep them?
Maggie, 13: To make it through the year without seeing my mom do the whip, please God.
Kate, 8: My resolution is to stop biting my nails because my mom says she is going to make me wear nail polish that tastes like rotten eggs if I don’t.
Annie, 5: I am going to help doggies like if they are stuck on cliffs.
Jude, 7: I resolve to eat more bananas because I only two or three everyday.
Ross, 9: I won’t give myself unsanctioned haircuts.
Kenny, 5: I will color on paper and not on walls.
Ben, 7: I will try to eat the occasional vegetable without bribery.
Luke, 4: I will sleep in my bed all night.
Via, 10: Be nicer to my sisters and that’s going to be a super hard one.
Kate, 9: I will work to become either a famous ice dancer or a great singer.
Kleeb, 3: To stop crapping in my pants so much.