Parents of teens, here’s a fun fact: if you plan enjoyable activities for your family that don’t involve a PS 4 or at least an iPhone, you will be unpopular. If you don’t plan any enjoyable activities at all, you will be unpopular. If you acknowledge them in the morning, you will be unpopular. If you acknowledge them in public with any form of physical affection, you will be unpopular. If you sit beside them in the living room and breathe, you will be unpopular.
Allow me to use a bit of shorthand here, because my hands are cramping from the typing: if you are the parent of a teen, you will be unpopular.
I hate to tell you this, because maybe you have school age children who think you’re great sometimes, and they are aware that you know a couple of things. They listen to your stories, and they love your mom or dad jokes like: “Did you know the first french fries weren’t actually cooked in France? They were cooked in Greece.”
These of the pre-tween set might think you’re mean or boring at times (and that’s fair, let’s be honest), but at least they don’t think you’re unintelligent and out of touch. But what I’m trying to say here is this: Just. Wait.
The other day I was trying to explain to a colleague that I was trying to watch Japanese cartoons called anime because my kids are into it, so I wanted to at least make an attempt to see what it was all about. She said “Oh yeah, I get that. You want to be a cool mom.”
Let’s get something straight here: I have never aspired to be a Cool Mom. It’s not because I’m too cool to be a Cool Mom (Cool Moms aren’t cool, because if you have to try, you’ve already failed). I don’t aspire to be a Cool Mom because I haven’t ever been a Cool Anything. I was one of those teenagers who didn’t catch on to acid wash until it was already declining in popularity.
At that point I bought the jeans AND the super-long denim jacket and wore them until they nearly fell off my very uncool body. I was fortunate in that my closest friends were cool, and thus I could be cool by association.
And hey. I’m in my forties and my children are teenagers, so being cool would have to be my full time job. I already have one of those PLUS two teenagers, so I’m just not going to do it. What I HAVE decided to do is to be the Weird Mom. Because, let’s face it, I already pretty much had that gig down pat my entire life (see above re: my acid wash phase).
Being a weird mom has benefits. I am not expected to Get It, because a Weird Mom is too busy sending llama-a-day memes to her fourteen-year-old son who has never mentioned llamas a day in his life. She’s responding to the anime obsession with Japanese recipes. She’s introducing Stephen King books to her teens not because he’s still cool, but because SHE needs someone to talk to about his new novel. She’s watching anime because her kids like it, and she likes her kids, and she wants to breathe in the TV room without irritating the thirteen-year-old.
When you’re a weird mom, your kids put up with you because it’s kind of cool to have the oddest quirks that are not widely accepted in society.
So you can be cool by default, or you can just sit back and be your weird self. Either way you win, and either way your kids will roll their eyes at you and close their bedroom doors when you ask them to watch “Young Sheldon” episodes with you (season two is out on Netflix).
So I’m not worried about my temporary, unpopular status in my house. I’m a weird mom, and I’m ok with it.
I’m married to a weird dad, and we have two kids who are probably going to be weird parents to their own kids someday. I hope their kids roll their eyes and let them watch whatever indecipherable show is currently their favorite.