What’s my line?
We think cue cards for dad should come with every package that comprises a teenager. We can remember getting into oral fisticuffs with our teenagers about almost anything. It didn’t matter what we said—it was misplaced, ill-timed, just plain wrong. Try as we might to offer conciliatory words as a balm to soothe our embattled relationship, our carefully chosen responses evolved into jagged edges that rubbed them every which way but right.
What’s my motivation?
With each cue card for dad that contained just the right response for every occasion, there would also be a bonus in parentheses—a stage direction. It might be something like (He spoke calmly) or (His tone was devoid of sarcasm) or (He remained silent while he crawled behind the sofa). We sometimes think we would have been a lot happier and less stressed knowing when and how to speak, how to act, look or move, how long to pause, how softly or loudly to respond and when to draw out a sentence or cut it off in midstream. Or simply when to make an exit.
It doesn’t matter if you have sons or daughters. Sometimes you feel outnumbered. Sometimes we are a powerhouse of one in our families. It is extremely challenging to know when to speak and what to say. And when we venture forth with even a syllable, we get the death-ray glare from our teenager.
Eating our words
Dad (jumping in the deep end): Well, honey, I think you ought to call your manager rather than send an e-mail.
Dad (treading water): You really ought to see the apartment before you say you want it.
Yeah, right. Wrong!
Dad (sinking fast): Your teacher will appreciate the fact that you put forth the effort regardless of how many you get wrong.
Earth to dad! Earth to dad!
Our sage advice either misses the point or the entire side of the barn.
Not even a word!
Even one-word replies wouldn’t rescue us from hot water.
Son: That’s not what I meant, dad!
Son: You just can’t accept the idea that I’m 17!
Son: There you go again—I don’t know why I even brought it up!
Say it with a card
Think of the peace of mind teenager-composed cue cards would bring to the conversation.
Daughter: How can she be so stupid!
Dad (reads cue card with feeling): Because she can’t help it, light of my life. She’s been stupid all her life.
Daughter: My teacher never explains anything, and he never told us there was going to be a test today!
Dad (reads cue card with conviction): It’s obvious that your teacher received insufficient schooling, Pumpkin, and I know he didn’t tell you about the test because you would have included that in your class notes.
Daughter: Dad, I would have dried the dishes—all you had to do is ask.
Dad: (reads cue card with sugary compassion): And I didn’t want to ask you, sweetie pie, because I know you’ve had a rough day, and I didn’t want to interrupt ‘Cake Boss.’
We really think in this family drama—at least for awhile—we’re better off just playing trees.