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.