Recently, my 11yo son made me watch Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop” and “Wrecking Ball” videos. He felt that I had to see them to believe them. Now, if you haven’t seen the videos, let’s just say one is a lot of twerking and writhing and what we use to call “freaking” and “dry humping” (way back in the 80s). Plus a little girl on girl innuendo and a lot of Miley’s scantily clad body rubbing up against things like she’s trying to itch a yeast infection without using her hands.
And the other is a lot of anger nudity and licking of a sledge hammer. A lot of licking, so much licking that I was hoping the video would end with her getting a tetanus shot.
Frankly, I wasn’t sure why I had to see these videos. Was he trying to say, “She is hot” or “This is why I started locking my door” or “This beats America’s Got Talent every night of the week”?
When they were over he looked at me waiting for my response … “Well? Do you believe that?” he asked impatiently.
As is often the case with tweens, I’ve found it’s best to stay quiet and say little until I know what the hell we’re talking about and how I need to react, so that he’ll talk to me for the rest of the afternoon. One wrong phrase or analysis of the situation and I could get one word or grunted answers for the next 5 hours.
“No, I can’t believe it.” I said, with as little inflection as possible.
Shit, what can’t I believe? That Miley Cyrus kept that hair cut? That she was once Hannah Montana? That she could be so smokin’ hot?
“You know, those videos make Miley Cyrus a total douchebag” my son said, whispering the last word. Whenever he says a bad word around me he whispers it. It’s kind of like a wink. Like, I know I probably shouldn’t say this, but you get it mom, you’re all modern, but I still fear you too much to say it in full voice.”
Mind you, I was blindsided … frankly, I wasn’t expecting that assessment. A douchebag, really?
Well, technically, she is, I mean, she has so many young fans and singing songs about drugs and riding a big ball nude is not the best way to break out of the teen princess mold (see Anne Hathaway for the best way). Plus, after the VMAs performance that made me feel like poor Robin Thicke was eye raped and may need counseling … and a lawyer, I’m thinking “douchebag” is not so far off the mark. But I don’t think that’s what my son meant … And then, it dawned on me, he didn’t mean douchebag at all, he meant Miley Cyrus is a ho’bag (rookie mistake).
Awwwwwwww, how adorbs is that? He meant to say ho’bag but he didn’t really know the word and he got it all confused. It’s exactly like when he was three and used to say bops instead of grapes and of course we never corrected him because it was so cute when he asked for “mo bops.”
So now, do I correct him? I mean, how cute will it be when we’re out and he calls scantily clad girls douchebags? So cute.
Buuuut, clearly kids at school have been saying “ho’bag” and he’s naively (though let’s not forget, adorably) using “douchebag” instead … and let’s face it, that can’t be good for his socialization skills. How will he hang if he uses the wrong “bag”?
“Honey, I think you’re using the wrong word. See, a douchebag is more like a dick,” I explained in an ironically Mr. Rogers sounding tone. By the way, is so much easier to explain that than algebra … and I’m pretty sure it’ll be more useful to him in his adult life. “I think you meant to say ho’bag, which is someone that’s trashy, overly sexy and dresses like a hooker.”
Now, if you go back and read that last sentence, like I just did … you may be all, “Jenny, did you ever imagine you’d be having that conversation with one of your kids?!?”
“No, but half the shit I say, literally shocks me when I go back over it in my head.”
If you have little ones and not tweens or beyond, you may actually want to chastise me right now, I would’ve chastised me a couple years ago (I didn’t utter a bad word around the kids for like an entire decade), but I’ve learned a truth that you get to know when your child joins the tweens movement: If you can’t 21 Jump Street yourself into conversations you’re screwed until they graduate college (bare minimum).
It’s sink or swim, hang out or hang it up, get it or get lost. I’m not saying you shouldn’t continue to parent or be the one with a keg in your basement, but if you don’t pick your battles with as much care as you would cut a wire on a bomb, you become the uncool parent who doesn’t get to know what’s really going on. The one in the dark. The one who doesn’t get to (unbeknownst to your children) call school to discuss issues you’re privy to.
The truth is, at some point you go from being the most awesome all knowing brilliant person on Earth, to the most moronic loser evah! … overnight … like the flip of a switch — no matter how awesomely you could skate backwards, or how many Billy Joel concerts you attended. So, if you can assimilate into the tween/teen culture enough that you’re only mildly uncool and slightly mortifyingly embarrassing, you get the chance manipulate their views, morals, and decisions from the inside. Frankly, may be your only shot.
PS: Betty White got the honor of teaching my kids the word “hooker” on Off Their Rockers, so you can send any hate mail her way. I send all my hate mail to her, it’s cathartic. The rest of your hate mail can go to that douchebag Miley Cyrus for ruining Teddy Bears and oversized foam fingers for all of us!
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We All Get to Be Totally Uncool Together