Friday, June 05, 2009


Atticus on the left. Bob Ross on the right.
When I was pregnant with my first child (Atticus) I remember seeing babies and toddlers and thinking, "Awwww, I can't wait to have one of those!" One time I saw a teenaged boy ambling through the mall and I thought, "Wait! I DO NOT want one of THOSE!"

So I am glad to report that now that I have one of THOSE in my house it is really quite delightful.

Teenaged boys are straight forward and tell you what they're thinking. They are hilariously funny and celebrate the absurd. Though they may not put a lot of thought into your birthday present, they are sweet and still wipe tears away from their little sisters' cheeks. And they can program the phone/tv/dvr or fix any technological problem you might have. As I type this he's installing a new cooling system on the PC downstairs. Whatever that means.

My teenaged boy is quirky (go figure) in addition to all those other things. He sees auras. He mentioned this quite casually once a few years back. "My music teacher has orange light around her." He is curious about everything and as an avid fan of the history channel knows something about almost everything. Lately, he's been bringing me up to speed on the whole North Korea Kim Dong Il thing. But he's just as likely to launch into a discussion on medieval weapons (do you know the difference between a cudgel and a shilaleagh?) or the likelihood that Nostradamas's predictions are accurate.

He is a "serial-interest-taker". He has an interest, he learns all he can about it, he often saves up and buys one, then he moves on. Accordion, ocarina, Rubiks Cube, tarot cards, and yo-yos come to mind. He dedicates hours of time on the internet learning about these things and teaching himself how to use them with YouTube.

Unfortunately, he seldom (no wait, NEVER) brings this passion, curiosity, and devotion to his schoolwork.

Which is why he was getting bad grades this spring and we were moved to ground him from his computer games and from his beloved stage crew (another of his passions--as a Freshman he has been given light and sound board duties normally reserved for Seniors). With all this free time we had hoped he would apply some of it to his homework.

But alas, he has squandered his extra time on the latest of his serial intersts: painting. Yes, he used his free time and hard-earned money, to passionately pursue this. He saw the now-deceased Bob Ross on PBS. (In case you do not know who this is, I will explain, he is an extremely odd, charismatic guy who teaches people to paint on TV). Bob Ross believed anyone can paint. Atticus believes that too. So while he was supposed to be spending this spring raising his math grade he's been standing next to the computer (he downloaded the show) paintbrush in hand, following Bob's direction.

So if you have a baby boy and are not so sure about the whole teenager thing, don't worry. It will be great. He will have his own interests and passions even if he doesn't have good grades. And like all children, if you let him, he will show you a world you did not know exists.

And if you're lucky, you might get some new paintings for the living room.


  1. Yes. That's what they do (if you're lucky). They show you worlds you did not know existed.
    I think of many, many favorite movies I'd never have gone to without my teenage boys (Fight Club comes to mind.)


  2. Curiosity like that about mostly everything is the sign of a great mind.

  3. Wait...I didn't know Bob Ross died...what happened? I mean, besides his heart stopped beating, etc.

  4. @Anonymous: he died in 1995 already.

  5. Don't worry! I know what raising a teenaged boy is like! Eric (who was two years old on your wedding day and is now 27) didn't fully appreciate his high school education until he got to college. He has turned into this amazing adult who is going to be a teacher! We are thrilled!

    Love, Emily

  6. Another good thing about teenage boys? They can lift and carry stuff for you. And as you said, they can program anything. But if you really want to make them crazy, get a better phone than they have. Drives 'em nuts. The thing that I am endlessly fascinated by, is how tall Kevin is now. My baby is way bigger than me. Weird.

  7. Don't get snippy on me, Laurent! And Selfrighteous housewife, write more! Your fans are hungering!

    Mary Anonymous from Holly
    a.k.a. Sookie Stackhouse

  8. I think Atticus is on to something here with the Bob Ross painting thing. Don't think of it as just another episode in his "serial interests". I love Bob Ross and if I am channel surfing and ever see him on I stop and just cannot change the channel. Watching him paint is the most an experience and for me is great relaxation therapy. He is (was) amazing and to watch him do one of these paintings in an hour (yes there are no cut aways to commercials and then when you come back he's painted 20 more trees. He does it all so smoothly and relaxed. He also taught and emphasized to his viewers that they can do this too and they should try it and not be afraid. If they make a mistake that it is okay (it is only paint) and they can go over it or make it into something else, like another tree or a big rock. Something good to learn in our fast paced, perfection alway, got to have it now world. By the looks of Atticus's painting I really thinks he is on to something.

  9. Randy,
    A lot of people comment on the mesmerizing effects of Bob Ross. I think he was a sort of genius. I'm glad this stuff appeals to my quirky boy. By the way, sounds like you are crazy need some Bob Ross time too!

  10. I like the expression "serial interest"--my 11-yr-old has always been like that. I will catch myself saying "Hey Ben, look, it's about Egypt!" and realize that was 3 years ago he loved everything Egypt. Six or seven obsessions ago. And you never know which of them will stick and become a life's passion.

    Also--I too am shocked to learn that Bob Ross is dead--especially that it was 14 years ago! He was strangely mesmerizing. I always thought he'd be an interesting base for a character in a novel...