My son was flopping around the house this past weekend looking bored and dejected. I inquired about his mood and was met with a multitude of shrugs and mumbling.
When pressed, he finally admitted that he was indeed bored and that no one was around to hang out with. I suggested that he play his guitar. He said he wasn’t “feeling it.” I suggested going for a run. He said he was too tired. I suggested checking in with his employer to see if he could pick up an extra shift. He said I was crazy.
He then went on a long diatribe about how I knew nothing about being a teenager in this era and that I was out of touch and that I could never understand the pressures of his life, blah, blah, blah.
I let him spew vitriol for what seemed like an eternity. When he was done, I took a deep breath and stated, “You’re probably right. Now go wash your mother’s car.”
And with that, I calmly got in my truck and drove away.
When I came back a couple hours later, my wife’s car was glistening in the sun and he was sitting on the front steps drinking a soda. I walked over to him and sat down and asked how he was doing. He replied that he was actually in a great mood.
Sensing a teachable moment, I began to point out how affirming it is to work towards a goal and how well the human body responds to physical labor. I pointed out that by washing his mom’s car, he had tapped into feelings of accomplishment and pride and how that exercise translated into a better mood.
“Use this experience as a launching pad for future endeavors,” I stated proudly, “and see how quickly you can enhance other aspects of your life.”
When I was finished, he took a long swig from his soda and then looked at me with a strange, quixotic expression. He began to speak and then stopped, and then started again. “Dad, I love you,” he finally stated, “But sometimes you’re out in left field.”
“How is what I just said, ‘out in left field?” I inquired.
“Well,” he countered, “I hated washing mom’s car. That is not what I would refer to as a ‘life affirming’ exercise. It’s drudgery. And it did absolutely nothing to better my mood.”
He then held up his phone and showed me a picture of an adorable young woman. “This is what changed my mood – not washing mom’s car.”
“OK, fair enough,” I said. “And who is that?”
“None of your business,” he replied.
We sat there for a minute in silence until he finally copped some further information, likely sensing that he had been a bit harsh with his earlier response. Apparently, the young woman was someone he met at a concert that he and his friend went to the week prior. I had bought him tickets months ago when I saw that one of his favorite indie bands was coming to the area. It was his first foray into the world of concerts without his dad tagging along – a rite of passage, I suppose.
After he finished explaining who she was, I asked if he was planning on going out on an actual date with her or if this was going to be another online relationship where they text and FaceTime constantly, but never actually see each other.
“What about going to the movies?” I stated. “That’s always a great first date idea.”
And with that statement, he got up and walked away. I sat there alone for a few more minutes staring at my wife’s vehicle. The more I stared, the more I started to notice spots where my son neglected to wash. I got up and took one walk around the car, finally concluded that, while it wasn’t to the level I would have wanted, it was good enough for an angst-ridden teenager.
It’s sad to think that going to the theater is waning in popularity with the younger generations. I suppose we can blame the streaming platforms (which are wildly convenient and accessible) for changing the way we digest motion pictures.
This week’s film, “Netflix vs. The World,” is an interesting documentary about the humble beginnings of Netflix and how its unique business model disrupted one of the most powerful industries in the world.
What started as a tiny, nearly-broke company in Silicon Valley that thought renting DVDs by the mail was a good idea, Netflix has now become a behemoth of the digital age.
Check this one out if you’re curious about the evolution from VHS tapes to digital streaming and how the masterminds at Netflix pulled off the impossible. An intriguing “B+” for “Netflix vs.The World.” And ironically, it’s only available for streaming on Amazon Prime.
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at [email protected]