The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 9, 2013

Mike Pound: Teens’ lack of interest in parents normal

By Mike Pound
Globe Staff Writer

JOPLIN, Mo. — Last week, my boss passed along something that my 15-year-old daughter’s journalism teacher said.

The teacher was at the Globe for the paper’s annual high school journalism workshop and someone said something about my column. Emma’s teacher told Carol Stark that the kids in his class seemed to enjoy my column. Except Emma.

“Emma says she never reads his column,” the teacher said.

Carol thought that was sort of sad.

I told Carol I know for a fact that Emma doesn’t read my column and that I didn’t think that was sad at all. I think it’s pretty normal.

If I were 15 years old and my dad wrote a newspaper column about me, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t read it, either.

Very few 15-year-old kids are interested in what their parents do for a living. Barack Obama’s oldest daughter Malia is about Emma’s age, and I’m pretty sure the fact that her dad is president of the United States doesn’t impress Malia all that much.

“Hey, Malia, did you see my press conference?”

“Stop it, Dad. You’re embarrassing me.”

Oh sure, when Malia is a bit older, the whole “my dad is the most powerful guy on the planet” thing will mean a bit more to her, but for now there are more pressing teenage issues that require her attention.

On Monday night, Emma and I chatted about all of this for a few minutes. I had just put down a new Jim Harrison book called “The River Swimmer” and switched on “The Daily Show” when Emma came downstairs looking for a late-night snack. She grabbed a box of crackers and walked over to the couch where I was sitting.

“I’m going to sit down next to you,” Emma announced.

The two of us watched “The Daily Show” for a few minutes and then I mentioned what her journalism teacher said.

Emma laughed. I told Emma that if I were her I wouldn’t read my column, either.

“I don’t even read it,” I said.

Emma laughed again.

“Sometimes I forget that you have a job,” Emma said.

I thought that was funny.

Speaking of funny, earlier that evening when the three of us returned from the Carthage High School basketball game, my wife made a big deal about saying she was “going to go upstairs and put on pajamas.”

When she said that, Emma and I started laughing because my wife makes a big deal about saying she is going up to put on pajamas every night. Then Emma, imitating my wife, said, “Whew! I’m tired. I’m going to go upstairs and put on my church clothes.”

I laughed very hard. Even my wife thought it was funny, although she didn’t laugh as hard as I did.

In case you’re wondering, my wife doesn’t read my column, either.

“Sometimes I forget you exist,” is what my wife said.

I enjoyed the chat with Emma. Because she is 15, Emma and I don’t have many chats like the one we had Monday night. It’s pretty much the cycle of teenagers.

First of all, the demands on Emma’s time make those chats sort of hard to come by. Second, when you’re 15 you normally don’t feel like chatting with your parents. And if you’re a 15-year-old girl you especially don’t feel like chatting with your dad.

I can see that.

My wife tells me that someday Emma will read my column, and I tell my wife that when she does, I hope there is some sort of a statute of limitations that will prevent Emma from suing me.

After Emma finished her crackers, she said “good night” and went to bed. I went back to “The Daily Show.” When it was over, I turned off the TV and turned on the Frank Sinatra station on satellite radio.

As I listened to the music I started wondering about something.

Do you suppose that Frank’s daughter Nancy listened to his music when she was 15?

I’m guessing she didn’t.