Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Magical Moment of Actual Conversation with a Teen

Teenagers aren’t the easiest people to talk to. Understatement of the year? Maybe.

There’s the mood swings that keep you wondering which side of your child is about to respond to your question. There’s the testing and pushing of boundaries. And when you say no to something, there is always a compelling, eloquent response like, “Come ONNNN... .”

Then there’s that moment. The unexpected moment where you worry you might be dragging your teen to an event where they will be miserable (which may, in turn, make you miserable) and instead they LIKE it.

Magical. That is the only way to describe it.

This weekend I went to a country concert with my husband, my friend, her daughter, and my fifteen-year-old stepson. I almost didn’t buy my stepson a ticket because country isn’t really his thing. Rap and hip hop are cool amongst the teenage set these days.

Anyhow, when I bought his ticket last month I thought this would be his first concert, so at the very least I figured it might be an interesting experience for him.

Since then his friend invited him to a different concert a couple weeks ago. Rap. Or hip hop. Or some such variety. In other words, his kind of music.

In their lawn seats, they stood most of the time, danced a lot, and came home saying it’s basically just a big party there.

Fast forward to this weekend. The country concert was at the same venue only we had actual seats.

During the first two acts, people were sitting. My stepson asked if anyone was going to stand. I assured him that they would as soon as it struck them to do so. Sure enough toward the end of the third act, everyone jumped out of their seats singing, dancing, clapping.

Here’s the crazy part. So did my stepson. He jumped up, started clapping and swaying along to the song even though he didn’t really know it.

When that group finished singing and the stagehands began preparing for the headlining act, my stepson struck up a conversation with me.

Can I just say that one more time? My teenage stepson struck up a conversation with me.

As if that wasn’t shocking enough, he started by saying, “Country music is pretty good.”

Jaws should be dropping.

Recognizing the magical moment for what it was, I clung to that conversation with every ounce of attention I had. We talked about the music. We compared behavior of country concert fans vs. behavior of rap concert fans. He marveled at how quickly the stage was reset between each act (apparently this took much longer at his prior concert).

When the headliner came out, he jumped right back out of his seat and started dancing again. He was completely into it.

As I replayed the conversation in my mind throughout the night, I realized something. During my teen years, the conversations that I remember having with my dad were about music. He would let me play my music in the car. I’d tell him what I liked about the particular song or artist. He would listen to the song and give his opinion.

I really loved when my dad would come to me and say, “I heard this song at the gym. It had a piano intro and it was a guy or a group of guys, maybe, and they said, ‘Stay with me’ a lot.”

Most of the time I knew exactly what song he was talking about and I felt special being able to tell my dad something he didn’t know. (Though, admittedly, the above description stumped me, so we got our answer from a music store employee - “Beautiful Girl” by INXS, in case you were wondering.)

My point is maybe in order to talk to teens, we need to meet them where they are. Music is a great place to start because nearly every teen likes music. And maybe taking them to something that is out of their element will turn out better than we think.

What I know for sure is I will treasure that night at the country concert forever. In that moment, I felt closer to my stepson than I ever had before and I appreciate that he let himself have fun there.

Have there been moments where your children surprised you with a positive response to something unexpected? Whether or not you have kids, what music do you feel in your soul?

3 comments:

  1. My daughter was also a quiet one. Talked for hours on the phone with friends, but she didn't have much to say to us. But then we discovered that when we went out for eat with just one of us, she would spew 10,000 words a minute. Amazing. We tried to do this 1-to-1 more often. We all felt good about it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Magical moment indeed. It's tough getting teens to open up. But I am definitely a believer in the power of music - it brings people together and makes experiences richer.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Music is such a bonding thing for people to connect over and teens are especially tied in to this. How great that you and your stepson had this wonderful experience together. My kids are always surprising me with what they end up liking as far as experiences go. I think they surprise themselves along the way as well. :)

    ReplyDelete