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FALL 2007

Vol. 08, No. 1


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My 15-year-old stepson, once a quiet, almost too shy boy, is now a boisterous, outgoing, taller than his dad, twinkle in his eye, happy pretty much anywhere guy. He has lots of friends and frequent social engagements. He has developed an interest in classic rock, and has amassed a collection of rock band T-shirts. Some are recent purchases, and some vintage, like a Rolling Stones concert shirt his dad never wore, but cherished in theory. He is learning to drive, happily never in my presence. Though there's not a chance in the world he could lose his focus when his very alert 13-year-old brother is in the car, I still don't plan to ride along for many years. Do they say the brain isn't fully formed until your early 20s? I think I'll wait until he's, let's just say 30 and call it even.

Anyway, this once quiet child recently spent the weekend playing Xbox Live, which means he camped out in a chair with a complicated controller in his hands and a headset clamped over his long hair and then blabbed into the thing for hours, mostly in the form of bickering with whoever was on the other end of the Internet-based game network, could have been some guy in Spain, but I gathered two of the other guys were classmates. I seldom grasp what's going on in any detail.

He only stopped the game to eat when his father insisted, and so this boy, who used to be the world's slowest eater, raced up to the kitchen, bolted down a couple thousand calories -- didn't matter of what -- in about two and a half minutes and then got his tail back down on the chair so he could yell into the headset that whatever it was that just went wrong in the game wasn't his fault.

When he started playing with the headset a few months before, he mumbled into it in low tones, but something about this new game causes him to enunciate and project in his now-resonant voice. At first, I thought, well, it's his house too, he gets to have some fun. I can go somewhere else and shut the door and turn on a television and put on my headphones and zone him out. That was Friday night. By Sunday night I just wanted him to stifle.

My husband reminds me often that adults have since ancient times thought the next generation was going to cause the end of civilization, so I should just relax. In that spirit, I am trying to remember what it was like to be 15, and whether my pastimes matter much to my success and happiness as an adult. I can't seem to remember a single thing, though I'm sure whatever I found to do, it was never noisy or disturbing to others.

Here's hoping the people in your life have as much gusto for play and potential for the future

Thank you for reading.


Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.