Twitter Tweens

A new parent asked me the other day what they had to look forward to as their little darling grew up.  They’d heard of the “terrible twos” and all that, but what about the long view?  How are they when they’re 11, like the Human Tape Recorder, or 9, like Number One Son?  (They didn’t ask about the Reigning Queen of Pink, presumably because they can see that from where they’re standing.) 

I presented my answers with the usual caveat, to wit: there’s “9-yr-old boy” and then there’s Number One Son.   Remember, crazy means not having to sweat the details, such as clean underwear, monetary valuations, and most social graces.  That said, I can provide (and am happy to detail here as a public service) some details into what life is like living with kids aged 11, 9, and 7. 

If you don’t have kids but you’re thinking about it, and you’d like to see what it’s like, the Internet now makes it possible to simulate the, um, experience.   Just living with anyone, never mind the ADD types, under the age of 14, is to live in the bottom of a permanent, live-feed twitter well.  They’re walking twitter accounts!

First, sign up for a Twitter feed.  Second, subscribe to the tweets of every single English-speaking person you can find.  Third, for good measure, subscribe to the tweets of at least 5 percent of the non-English speaking world as well.  Trust me on this.

OK, got that all set up?  Now get a text-to-speech application, set it for automatic, and turn up the volume to just past where it’s comfortable.  Now break the knob off the volume control and throw that sucker away – like the lid to bottle of good Scotch, you won’t be needing THAT. 

Ho.  Ly.  Shit.   They talk all the time, about everything, and nothing, at FULL VOLUME.  I don’t know if it’s because they’re so deaf from listening to each other, or because they’re just trying to be heard over the din.   (There’s a reason they learned their ABCs the hard way.)

OK, if you haven’t lost your mind in the first 5 minutes of this exercise, it’s because we haven’t gotten to the hard part yet.  The hard part is that it is absolutely a matter of life and death that you pay attention to about 1.5 percent of everything you hear.  You will never know WHICH 1.5 percent it is, though, and there are very few cues  to tell you when one of the important bits is coming.  You’ll need to develop a mental low-level Twitter Tween filter to make sure you hear the word “bleeding” among the “im going to the bathroom oh my god I need to go the bathroom its my turn to play the wii I want the remote can I have another sandwich its my turn I’ll use the upstairs one shut up no you shut up ow now its my turn hey mom she hit him non I didn’t and hes bleeding no I’m not shut up oh my god I have to go the bathroom” montage of sound that assaults you every minute of every day. 

Catch all that?  Right.   As I typed this, I decided that there must be a more concise word for “mental Twitter Tween filter.”   And so there is.  The word is headache.

And in case you were thinking about being clever – forget it.  I saw you just now, you put the volume control in your pocket instead of throwing it away like I told you.  Do you know what happens these days when we try to remind them of their, um, ABCs?

BUMD:   “Would you PLEASE stop the incessant noise for one brief, shining, quiet moment?”
Reigning Queen of Pink:   “But Daddy, don’t you want your child laughing?”

OH!  She’s so good with her stiletto, I didn’t even see the blade – until it was stuck in my chest.   They say silence is golden.  Maybe I can convince her that silence is really a bright shade of pink.  In the meantime, where’d I put that aspirin?

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