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More Proof That Your Teenager Can Enrich Your Life

We all know that E asked that I read several of his favorite books and in 2011, I really tried to knock a few off that list. One of them was Looking For Alaska. It is written by the much adored John Green. And I don’t use the term “much adored” loosely. Once I mentioned reading that book? People all over the interwebs yelled at me, “YAY! You are reading John Green! Next you should read An Abundance of Katherines/Paper Towns!”

And here’s the thing. I really loved the book. Now, as E will be the first to tell you, I read and watch TV for entertainment. I really want my books and movies to make me smile all the way through. Alaska was a bit dark. But in a really powerful and moving way. Especially if you were an angsty teenager like I was. I think my only real problem with it was the characters smoked and – being a former smoker – it really made me want to light up.

But I really did love the book. And I’ve wanted to read more of Green’s books since. Fast-forward to today. The Fault In Our Stars, the latest Green books is out. And E’s birthday is right down the road so OF COURSE I ordered him an autographed copy. And while I was investigating some issues some people were reporting with their copies not being signed, I stumbled upon this older John Green vidblog:

If you fast-forward to 2:20, those of you who know me will understand my euphoria. JOHN GREEN LOVES VI HART. Holy CRAPBALLS. Do you know who has been crushing on Vi Hart FOREVER? <<<< THIS GIRL! Seriously. If you have the unfortunate priveledge of knowing me in the real world, then we’re probably Facebook friends. Which means you’ve probably seen me link to every new Vi Hart video ever made EVER in the HISTORY OF HER LIFE. I seriously crush on her. SERIOUSLY. So…the moral of the story? BE OPEN TO YOUR CHILDREN. I may not take E to a Nicki Minaj concert, but I’ll read the books he recommends. And then my mind will be blown because the authors are awesome and crush on the very same people I crush on. You know what happened next, don’t you? I stumbled into what I can only describe as a Nerdfighter Wormhole. Here’s a good video that lets John Green and his brother, Hank describe what a Nerdfighter is:

Basically John Green has created a community of self-described nerds who want to fight the NOTsome in the world with AWEsome. Not only do they talk a lot of dorky things (He has a video about MAPS. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I was a cartographer for a bit! MAPS!) and they do a lot of charity. How have I not been a part of this community forever? HOW?  It’s like I was born a nerdfighter and just didn’t realize it until this week.

My point? My life is now more enriched thanks to a book suggestion from my sixteen-year old son.

Your teenager is a teenager. You’re not going to be able to share every interest. Not even as many interests as you do your spouse, or your peers. But you CAN FIND COMMON GROUND. And you MUST find that because it gives you something to get excited about together. E and I are both excited about this latest John Green book. And I owe that discovery to E. Just because they’re younger than us doesn’t mean they’re alien. You will be surprised at the doors they can open up to you. To new music, movies, books and artists. I’m constantly in awe of the depth of my interests that have been influence by my son. I sometimes act like a needy kid, “Give me more music for my running list! I need upbeat. Catchy. Maybe that starts out slower and then amps up a bit.” I mean, sometimes I wonder if E would like me to quit trying to find common ground because I badger him so much now for new stuff. “I liked that book…GIVE ME ANOTHER ONE.”

As always – it’s the only advice I ever have to people scared of having teenagers. FIND COMMON INTERESTS. It will give you things to talk about which is a MUST HAVE between a parent and a teen child. And I mean something other than bad grades or dirty rooms, something that they’ll actually WANT to talk to you about. The latest single from a favorite artist, the newest TV show with the celeb they’re crushing on, the anticipated blockbuster coming out this summer. FIND IT. FIND SEVERAL. And don’t let them go.


15 thoughts on “More Proof That Your Teenager Can Enrich Your Life”

  1. I am a Nerdfighter!

    My copy of The Fault In Our Stars is on it’s way from Amazon UK – I got my despatched email yesterday and it’s due to arrive on Saturday – hopefully it arrives signed because that was part of the reason why I pre-ordered even though I have 6 books on the go at the moment and desperately need to finish some of them.

  2. My signed copy is on the way, too! I preordered it so long ago that my credit card was out of date and I had to go in and update it.

    My son is only 7 and he already rolls his eyes at me and sasses me, so I wonder if he will even admit to having anything in common when he’s a teenager. I’ll remember your good advice, though.

  3. Love this!

    I checked Amazon off and on all day yesterday to see when they shipped mine. I’m tempted to just go out and buy another one instead of waiting.

  4. We found the vlog brothers a year ago and watched the entire backlog – they are great guys and I’m so glad they are benefiting from their passion. Looking for Alaska is in my opinion what kids in school should be reading; fits right into the Separate Peace and Catcher in the Rye set but is more today.

  5. My 24-year-old daughter received her copy yesterday. She said John Green has a youtube video reading the first two chapters. I will definitely have to read ALL the BOOKS.

  6. I found this blog when my aunt commented on my TFIOS pictures on Facebook =) I loved the post, Nerdfighteria is such a fantastic group of people. While there’s so much stupid out in the world, there comes these two brothers who promote intelligence and fun, and yeah they are just an inspiration. With that said, I need to go read my TFIOS now =) DFTBA!

  7. I’m a nerdfighter too! I love them! I am more partial to John, he exemplifies what I would like to be like as a person. Kind, thoughtful, sweet, and conscious.

    I think about your advice of sharing interests often, but I have to admit..I am struggling with legos dude.

    I have worked in video games though!

  8. Welcome to the community! I’ll be going to John and Hank’s event in Portland at the end of the month with about a dozen other adult nerdfighter women (ages 24-42). We’re all fans of the books, the music, the videos, the charity, the awesome.

    The “J-scribble” in my copy of The Fault in Our Stars is red. Yours?

  9. I met John Green at a library conference once and then I blogged about it on my book review blog. I went on and on about how nerdy-hot I thought he was. I may even have referred to him as my boyfriend. Our little blog didn’t have a big following, but I guess he googled his name because he left me a comment. Totally embarrassing. But it did lead to a really fun interview with him, so all is well.

  10. Great advice about teenagers. I have a 17 year old son who will be 18 soon and if you can survive the preteen-they are from the devil-years then you are looking at a pretty awesome person if you take your advice and find a common interest. I am on the one hand so sad he is about to be grown and going away to college but on the other hand I enjoy him so much at this age and we have so much fun together. So many people think I am nuts when I say that like how can you enjoy a stinky sassy teenage boy but my child is funny and articulate and we talk together like friends and that is what makes it fun. Now don’t get me wrong–I am still the Mama and he knows I will still kick his booty if he messes up but he also knows we can talk about anything and i make a big effort to pry into what he is interested in not just what is going on or going wrong in his life. Great advice and your relationship with your son is very inspirational to teen parents!!!

  11. You know I just hate it when you write posts like this because I know I’m going to spend the next 3 hours falling down a rabbit hole of awesome. Ok let me rephrase that… I hate it when you write posts like this and I read them during the middle of a work day and I can’t spend the next 3 hours falling down a rabbit hole of awesome.

    But this is totally the reason I’m going to end up letting my kids watch far too much Call of the Wildman tonight.

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