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Go Ask Mom

Amanda Lamb: The not-so-secret lives of teens

Posted September 28, 2014

There’s nothing like being a fly on the wall in the middle of a gaggle of teenagers. It’s like listening to a stream of consciousness from a person who’s had five cups of coffee before 8 a.m.

In one morning, my carload of teenagers can cover no less than 20 topics in a single fifteen minute ride to school. By the time I can come up with a question to insert myself into the conversation, they are already onto the next topic and usually dismiss me without so much as a pause. They are not being rude, they are simply excited to be alive and can’t break the momentum of adolescent ecstasy that comes with this joie de vie.

“So, you don’t go to the dance with a date, you go with a group?” No response. We’re moving on from the dance topic.

The conversation rolls right over me like a tidal wave bound for a rocky shoreline. They continue without skipping a beat from explaining what a “hair bump” is (plastic insert in your hair to make it look bigger), to what a cool costume is for Halloween (funny, but not insulting), to who is going to be their competition when they apply to college (the smartest girl in the class), to whether or not beauty pageants are politically correct (divided), to how certain sports can stunt your growth (really?), to what makes up a cool college apartment complex (apparently a pool where everyone can “party”), to where their friends from elementary school are now (based mostly on sightings at Target), to what you really need to know to get your driver’s license (the answers to 100 questions and how to park).

I take it all in like a high school freshman, hoping to glean something about my daughter’s world where I always seem to feel like a tourist who doesn’t speak the language.

I wonder, did my parents feel this way? If they did, they never showed it to me. I never imagined for a minute my parents cared about what I thought as a teenager. But I do care about what my children and their friends think and how they think about the world around them. I feel like I learn something from them every time I drive carpool.

“OMG,” my daughter says laughing and turning around to show her friends in the backseat something that was posted on Instagram. “You’ve got to see this!”

I know that one, I internally praise my acronym acuity. But there are so many more acronyms I don’t know. Clearly, the teenagers are educating us one bumpy stream of consciousness at a time. Parents, put on your seat belts, hold on tight, and remember you will learn as long as you listen…

Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter at WRAL-TV an the author of several books including some on the motherhood. Find her here on Mondays,

4 Comments

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  • snowl Oct 4, 2014

    ....and...very soon when your teenager(s) has matured into an independent adult....you can breath that sigh of relief and know that your mission is accomplished....Then comes your reward...... "just sit back and enjoy the".... grandkids! :)

  • mudmom2 Sep 29, 2014

    face it Amanda....we are old.....just sit back and enjoy the ride.....soak up every moment and pick them up when they get knocked down.....

  • lec02572 Sep 29, 2014

    This is where you learn most everything you want to know about your children as they grow up. Your are there to drive and listen. Inserting yourself into the conversation, just will not work. You are too old to understand (as if you were never their age). I enjoyed so much back in the day. It was amazing what you can pick up in these conversations. Inserting yourself into the conversation might cause the to become less comfortable and not mention things you might want to know. So just drive and listen. Enjoy the time.

  • 4.13 Sep 29, 2014

    "you will learn as long as you listen"
    Amanda, don't ever forget this statement. One day, when you least expect it, your teens will hit you with a question based on a conversation they know you heard. They want you to know these things. That's why they talk in your presence. Keep listening and learning.