There comes a time in every life when we are misunderstood. Some folks live on the edge of misunderstanding. They cultivate the idea of being so lofty that they are always misunderstood. Teens seem to thrive in this environment. Sometimes it is in an intellectual manner such as, “You don’t understand how mean my math teacher is…” or it can be in a spiritual manner such as, “I don’t like to go to church because I don’t understand what the pastor is saying.” Many teen/adult fights end with the famous: “You just don’t understand. You are old!” If they only knew just how much we understand.
For the most part misunderstanding can be a source of joy for the household. Most misunderstandings are just that: misunderstandings. Sometimes it is the misuse of a word or a discussion taking a wrong turn. Sometimes it is on purpose to provoke and tease. Nothing quite like pretending to NOT understand what a teen wants and offering up anything but what he wants. As the frustration level spirals I fix my face in the calmest manner with a quirky little smile. Our youngest teen thinks – but does not quite KNOW – that I am messing with him.
He finally gets it. “You are messing with me.”
“Yes, I am.”
“Oh, so I CAN go???”
“Did you take out the trash?”
“Arrrruuughhhhh! You said I could go.”
“You can go when the trash is out.”
“Does that mean today? I have to take the trash out today?”
“Do you want to go today?”
And so the life of a teen is full of misunderstandings. They just don’t get it.
Misunderstandings can make life so fun. Last week the fifth-grader was reading his candy hearts out loud. You know, the chalky ones with little words stamped on the front. Luv U. True Love. Kiss. He would read them out loud and then pop them into his mouth. He threw one back on the table and said, “They misspelled this one. It says MY ARMOR. How can armor be part of Valentines?” I was confused and picked up the heart. There it was in red lettering on a pink heart: Mi Amore. I explained and we had a good laugh together. Now when he hugs me good night he says, “Goodnight My Armor.”
Later in the week I was misting the house plants in the dining room when I heard him discussing with dad the need for plants in the house. Dad floundered around and finally said, “I guess we have them for the ambience.” The young one looked stunned. “An Ambulance was here? When?” He got all excited for nothing because when I told him exactly what ambience was he was a bit deflated. I thought that the misunderstanding was sweet.
The biggest misunderstanding of the week came with the older, more mature, teen who is on the verge of leaving the nest. She and I met up for lunch at a local eatery and were discussing her HS classes of the morning. She explained that we had to go and order some books for the semester. Being an avid reader, I asked what books they were assigned.
“Hatchet is the first one I think.”
“Oh, really? By Gary Paulson? That is a great book but usually for Jr. High kids. Are you sure?”
“Oh, yes, she showed us a paper. I don’t have to buy it because she has copies.”
I nodded and continued on with my bowl of noodles.
“But, we have to go buy some book called Grendel.”
I explained that book to her and asked again about Hatchet because I could see no connection. Then she added “Oh, and Frankenstein by some British lady.”
Now, I was even more suspicious. She took a large bite and said, “We are looking at British authors.”
I informed her that Gary Paulson did not fit into that category and PERHAPS she was going to read Hamlet. She was firm on Hatchet. “I saw it on the paper mom.”
A small misunderstanding. But Hatchet is still a great book to read.