Why must I explain such a simple thing to a kid? He – or she – is no longer a preschooler and some things are simply so self-evident that explanation beggars the imagination. But thanks to the presence of the MRI, which demonstrates how the teen brain is literally rewiring itself during that decade of growth, I can at least convince myself that there’s a legitimate reason to have to explain what is abundantly clear to 98.9% of adults. Our parents simply would shake their heads and weep for America. I now have a greater appreciation for Red Forman of That ’70s Show.
What are some of the questions that make me want to honestly plant a foot in someone’s butt?
Question: Why must I use a topsheet when I put clean sheets on my bed? (I’m really okay without them). So that we only have to wash thin sheets made dirty by your body oils and sweat instead of the comforter/quilt/bedspread that can only be done at the laundromat in the commercial washer.
Question: Why can’t I learn to ride a unicycle while riding on a brick retaining wall? So that you don’t really hurt yourself when you fall. But Dad, I won’t fall/get hurt on this unicycle. And that’s why it’s called an accident. Now get off of the wall.
Question: Why do you care if I go in my bedroom and draw my name on the hardwood floor with permanent marker/shoot Airsoft pellets at the wall/use the wall for knifethrowing target practice/repeatedly throw myself on my old bed when I’m having a tantrum? A, because I said so. B, because you’ll someday move on and I’ll have to fix/repair/paint/clean it to sell this place. C, because I said so. And if you aren’t certain, D, because I can remove everything to prove that it’s really mine. And did I mention because I said so?
PracticalDad note: It’s this preceding question that elicits a Red Formanesque mutterance.
Question: Why can’t my buddy and I stand on opposite sides of the house and shoot arrows over the rooftop at each other? (Silence)
Question: Why can’t I ride the skateboard while hanging onto a moving car? Michael J. Fox did it. Yeah, and unfortunately, Michael J Fox now has Parkinson’s.
Question: Why can’t I play two story bowling with the pins at the bottom of the steps? Just because, son. Just because.
If it appears that these are mostly male-oriented questions, you’re right. Teenage boys are wildly poor at assessing risk but even the teenage girls are notable in their ability to skewer rationality and common sense.
Question: Hey Dad, Junior managed to handcuff himself to the chair without checking to see if there were handcuff keys. Why can’t we tie bows in his hair and put makeup on him? He did it to himself. (Silence)
Many have read the mass email talking about the destructive qualities of small boys and what they can accomplish. It doesn’t go away as they age, but it does change considerably. And for the record, each of these situations that I’ve referenced has really happened although not necessarily with my own kids. But if the incidents aren’t firsthand, they are secondhand – none of them are thirdhand.