Half of all sounds that come from our teenage offspring is unintelligible. At least it seems that way. Hey, dads, imagine the gems we may be missing. “Dad, I really do love you.” “Dad, you’re right.” “Dad, let’s be pals.” If you’re like us, what you hear is muttered under the breath and only slightly audible. It must, therefore, be snide and sarcastic. We know — we’re jumping to unfair conclusions. Come on, kids, speak up— quit biting your mother tongue!
Here’s what we think. There is a period of time, ranging from a few years to a few more years, when teenagers purposely mumble! I dare you to hear what I said, dad. We figure it’s a form of rebellion. They may have to speak when spoken to … but they’ll keep the volume low. Their strategy works. You’ll be forced to say, “I can’t hear you.” You’ve just given them their cue to blast you off the sofa. “I SAID, I DON’T THINK I’M GOING TONIGHT!”
“You don’t need to shout.”
“Well you said you couldn’t hear me.”
“I didn’t say to yell.”
“I wasn’t yelling!”
“There, you just yelled again!”
And the conversation finds itself between a rock and a hard-head. (We won’t identify who’s who.) You wish the conversation could return to where it all started — a mere whisper.
We’re pretty sure that the reason you pull up to one of those speakers at the fast-food drive-thru and hear a combination of Martian and McSpeak is because at the other end of the intercom, wearing a headphone and speaking into a mouthpiece, is a conniving and spiteful teenager! “WehdlcomnrtoMgsbifhndourhsbtoday?” Smile, you’re on camera, too, which gives Mumbles the extreme pleasure of watching your face contort as you try to decide if you should respond with a “Yes,” “No thank you,” “No, I don’t wish to make it a combo,” or “Huh?”
We have a theory. A reason why teenagers choose to speak without making a coherent sound is because they think dad is going to disagree. If dad can’t understand what is being said, he can’t say no — and life will be much more pleasant. Of course, we walk right into the trap. We ask son or daughter to repeat it.
Here it comes loud and clear! “Dad, I just told you.”
“No, sweetie, you told that piece of lint on the rug by your shoe.”
“Please repeat what you said.”
Big sigh. Big inhale. Big huff. “Never mind!”
“Thanks, dear. I’m glad we cleared that up.”
It’s None of Our Business
Finally, maybe our teenagers mumble because what they have to say just isn’t any of our business. We don’t have to know because they have it handled. It’s under control and we’re just in the way. We’re not sure who promoted them to independence, but we’d like to take advantage of that growth spurt and hand over their car insurance premium. That will really make them incoherent!