Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Finally! A name that includes the teens and post-teens in my house

For those just tuning in, of my five children, only one still lives at home full-time. Youngest Son is in high school. Younger Daughter and Middle Son are both still in college and they're home now for the holidays.

I've struggled with what to call the teens and post-teens under my roof. Sure, I can use multiple terms, as in the preceding sentence, but I'm trying to be less verbose. More succinct. Less windy. More precise. (I guess this still needs work, eh?)

But I've studied their habits and I've observed their behaviors, trying to identify traits that they all have in common.

They eat a lot. When Middle Son returned to school after Thanksgiving Break his away message was "I miss my refrigerator at home." He didn't miss Mom or Dad. He missed an appliance.

Long Suffering Spouse challenged him on it just the other day. "Of course I miss you," he said quickly. "That goes without saying. It's just -- well, at school you have to eat at 5:30. If you don't go at 5:30 there's nothing left at 6:30. And what do you do when it's 11:00 and you're still hungry?"

He then told us of his many late night excursions to this fast food joint or that one and which chain's value menus he truly values. But it's a big pain, he concluded, especially since (because he has no car of his own) he has to con someone else into driving him.

In anticipation of their homecoming this past weekend, Long Suffering Spouse laid in at least twice the usual amount of supplies. The kids descended on these like locusts.

I suppose I could call them the Eaters or the Locusts. But Younger Daughter, in particular, would take offense. She claims she's only eating now because there's nothing to eat in the cafeteria in her dorm.

Back in the day, we had meal plans at school that went like this: When the cafeteria was open, we could eat.

That was too simple. Nowadays the kids get x meals per semester. Or maybe y food points. Each time they go to the cafeteria, one meal or some specified number of points is deducted from their plans. And the schools have some sort of "snack plan," too. A lot of schools have fast food joints on campus; different schools make different arrangements, but it all comes down to the same thing: Points get used up at night. Younger Daughter said she had no meals left on her plan at the end of the semester even though she never went to breakfast and seldom went to lunch. It was the late night snacks which drained her account. Which brings me to the other trait I've noticed.

They are not active during the day.
They stay up very late at night. I know I've whined about this here in the past, but I remember going to my parents' house after finals and sleeping the clock round for a couple of days. (OK, technically, I don't remember because I was asleep, but I remember it being a weekend... and then, all of a sudden, it was Wednesday.)

But theirs is not recuperative sleep so much as it is dormancy during daylight. Try as we might, Long Suffering Spouse and I can not make them hew to the diurnal pattern. Worse, the collegians immediately contaminated Youngest Son -- he still has to leave the house at 6:30am for school but, as soon as his siblings came home, he pushed back his bedtime by several hours, the better to get in quality video game time with his brother.

Next week, I suppose, that won't be as much of a problem. But he has finals this week... and I fear that sleep deprivation may prevent him from achieving his best possible marks.

But this trait, finally, gives me the label I've been looking for. We don't have to call them teens and post-teens. They are Nocturnals.

1 comment:

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Nocturnals is an excellent term for today's teenagers.