What a couple of lame shock jocks taught me about my teens.
By Peter Carter
TRUE CONFESSION TIME.
When my twin daughters, Ev and Ria, were in Grade 9, I drove them to school whenever I could because: A) I firmly grasp any time I get with my kids; and B) their high school was between my house and my job. I just loved listening to them talk about school, their friendships, and hearing what sort of music they liked.
What they didn’t know was, after they climbed out of the van, I frequently changed the radio station to hear a local “shock jock” show, in which a couple of wildly immature deejays played a game where callers were asked to describe the most embarrassing thing they ever did. They especially favoured sex stories. The juiciest story won.
I’m not sure what the show was called, but it might have been “WHAAAHAPPEN?” That’s how the jocks asked the callers to fess up.
“We got Brittany on the line from Keswick. So…Brittany…WHAAAHAPPEN?”
OK, maybe the shock jocks weren’t the only immature ones. But, at least I waited until the girls were out of the van. Some hungover sophomore talking about her drunken, horny weekend at Crystal Beach is not something you want to share with your 14-year-olds.
At their age, you still kind of hope you can protect them from a lot of stuff. The real world of serious relationships is directly in your line of sight and—with all due respect to any “niners” reading this—they’re still kinda young. Plus, I’ve never been comfortable talking about sex with my kids.
I remember once when their younger brother, Michel, was in Grade 6 or 7, my wife, Helena, insisted I take him aside for “the talk.”
Michel was taking an after-school gymnastics class and so it was en route, in the same van in which I drove the girls to school, where “the talk” happened.
It went like this:
Me: “Michel, Mom says you and I should have a talk. Ok with you if I say we did and leave it at that?”
That was that. I’m not prudish as much as I am efficient. And far as I know, Michel’s done ok in the sex department.
My feeling? Your kids already know way more than you think they do.
I whisk you back to the Carters’ breakfast table, 15 or so minutes before the twins and I piled into the van to head out. I forget the actual contents of the conversation, but I remember the tone very clearly. It was scandalous.
Ev was about to share something that happened to one of her schoolmates; something embarrassing. I was sitting across from her and her sister and, seconds before she started the story, Michel bounded downstairs and over to the table. She hesitated, but Michel sensed what was going on. He then started up in a voice that could only have been learned in one place— “WHAAAHAPPEN??”
I told you they know more than you think. ■
Peter has four brothers, four sisters, one wife, two daughters and a son, the last three of which all recently graduated from teenagehood with all their limbs and sanity intact.