Have you heard of ALDD? It stands for Adolescent Logic Deficit Disorder. It is a name I came up with to keep my sanity when I had no other way to explain my teenager’s complete lack of logic. Somewhere out there in a medical journal, I know there exists the scientific name for this adolescent condition. You may even recognize your teenager in this post.
When my son was about 16 years old, he got his first vehicle. It wasn’t much to speak of and certainly not a chick-magnet, but then since when did Jonathan need a magnet. He came out of the womb magnetized. The ladies at our church nursery called him, “The Flirt.” His friendly nature and dimply smile attracted many people.
The truck was mainly white, except for the areas marred by the all too familiar orangey-brownish, bubbling rust on the lower side edges, under the doors, and nearly everywhere else. The black seats had plenty of wear and little tears. I donated a southwestern blanket he could throw over the bench seat. Though far from new, the rims and tires were the truck’s main asset, besides the fact that it ran. To my son, however, the truck was a beauty.
As a self-supporting-single-mom, I was not able to help him financially, but impressed him with the way I talked the man down $50. “Look mom, the cool tires and rims are worth a lot, and I only paid $450 for the whole truck!” I admitted it was not bad. He needed this semi-reliable piece of transportation to get to school, his part-time job; and hopefully back home.
I drove the truck home since he didn’t know how to drive a stick, and figured this was a great time for a little mother-son chat about his new responsibility.
Me: “Jonathan, you know, this is a much older truck than I would have wanted you to get, but it was within our price range.”
Him: With a smile glued to his face from ear to ear: “Yeah, I know, Mom. It’s pretty cool though. How about those tires, huh?”
Me: “The tires are great Jonathan, but I want you to remember this older vehicle needs to be treated with care, much care. It’s probably fragile to an extent, kind of like a grandpa truck.”
Him: “I know, Mom. I’m so excited I can’t wait to learn to drive a stick.”
Me: “Think of it as an elderly, frail vehicle. Treat it with respect. No roughhousing or races or any of that. Not that you would, right?” I shot a look at him and couldn’t believe the smile was still plastered on his face. “You are listening, right?” I heard a grunt. “You are now a responsible driver and must think responsibly.”
Him: “Okay, I know. I can’t wait to show everyone my new truck.”
Me: “Do you understand what I am saying?”
Him: After a huge sigh. “YES, MOM! I understand. It’s an old truck. Treat it with care and drive responsibly. I get it. Grandpa truck. I learned all that stuff in drivers-ed. How do you think I got my license? I know all this. I get it.”
I really hoped he did. I knew Jonathan was itching to get behind the wheel. He was my youngest and I needed to loosen the leash. He did have his driver’s license. Between his sister and me, we began stick shift lessons. Several whiplashes later, he had mastered the stick shift. Sort of.
The first thing he did was to clean it inside and out. It was amusing. He found the bucket on his own, filled it with water, put in a few squirts of dishwashing detergent, found the auto sponge, and grabbed an old towel without me having to tell him anything. Hmmm. So he does know these things.
“Look Mom, doesn’t it look good as new?” He called me from the open front door.
Me: “Yeah! It looks really great!” I shouted, looking out the window, though it looked exactly the same to me. I was expecting company and was cleaning the house. He came in a few minutes later.
Him: “Mom, how do I get the water out from the truck’s bed?”
Me: “Sweep the water out with a broom.”
Him: “Wouldn’t it be much faster and easier, if I just backed up the truck into the ditch by the street and let it drain out?”
Me: “No, that wouldn’t be easier. That drainage swale is at least two feet deep. That wouldn’t be a good idea. You will get your truck stuck in there and it will be tricky to get out with the stick shift. You won’t be able to get it out on your own.”
Him: “But Mom, it will be so much faster. I won’t have any problems getting it out.”
Me: “Not a good idea! You know I am racing the clock with company coming any minute and cannot take the time to pull it out. The ground will be mushy from the water running into it. Just use the broom, Jonathan! That is way easier, and safer.”
Him: About ten minutes later. “MOM! Hurry! It’s an emergency! I can’t get the truck out of that swale thing. It’s stuck. The water made it too slippery. Will you pull it out? I really need your help! Please, Mom.”
Me: “You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding!” I looked out the window and sure enough, there in the front yard was a white, partly rusted Toyota pick up’s front end sticking up at an almost 45 degree angle. Stunned and angry, I confronted him. ”Unbelievable, Jonathan! What on earth were you doing? Didn’t I just tell you not to do that! I hope I can drive it out! I can’t believe you defied me like that!”
Him: “No! I didn’t defy you at all! You didn’t tell me NOT to do that, Mom. You said it wasn’t a good idea. You never told me NOT to do it.”
Many months later, Jonathan came to me. “It’s a surprise Mom. Wait till you see how cool it will be.” After much persistence, I agreed to go with him. He drove us out to a commercial site nearby with plenty of open space.
Me: “What are we doing here, Jonathan?
Him: “It’s a surprise, mom? You’ll love it. It’s really cool!” Just then his muffler coughed, choking out a response as he stepped on the gas pedal.
Me: “What are you doing?” We were headed towards a house size pile of dirt.
Him: “Just watch, Mom. This is really cool!” Excitement exuded from every pore of his being as he accelerated.
Me: “You’re not planning to climb over that hill, are you?”
Him: Eyes wild with excitement. “Yeah, Mom. I do this all the time! Everybody does it. You’ll see. It’s real cool. Watch!”
Me: “But Jonathan, this is very dangerous! What if the truck rolls over! This is an old truck, it’s not safe!”
Him: “Mom! You are so paranoid. I told you I do this all the time. So do all my friends.”
I tightened my grip on the door handle and the seat. I wanted to see what he did all the time, but deeply hoped I wouldn’t regret this moment later. We climbed the dirt hill at top speed. I couldn’t believe the little, old truck had it in it. We became airborne. Our bodies fought gravity. We landed on the other side of the hill with a slam. I worried about our necks. We both had a prior history of car accident neck injuries.
Me: “ARE YOU CRAZY!” Jonathan’s giddiness escaped in gurgles of laughter. I was speechless.
Him: “Wasn’t that fun! Let’s do it again, Mom!”
Me: “No! No! No! and NO! What are you thinking! You are nuts! Do you know how dangerous that is! Didn’t we have this conversation before about the G-R-A-N-D-P-A Truck? This thing is supposed to carry you till you can make enough money to get a better car. Where is your logic?”
The only response I received from him was a huge grin of satisfaction. Amazingly, the truck managed to make it for a couple more years. Thankfully, this young man’s logic returned and he became a very competent police officer.
Then, there was the time I called my daughter Hannah, while hopscotching between part time jobs. “Hannah, please take Jonathan’s soccer shirt, shorts and socks out of the washer and put them in the dryer. Please do it right now, before you forget. Jonathan has a game today. He will be home later. I will be there in a few hours and will take him to the game.” This was before he got his truck.
When I got home, I opened the dryer and found the specified items damp. “Oh no! Please God, don’t tell me this dryer is not working. I cannot afford to fix this.” I tested the dryer. It worked fine. I found Hannah in her room reading. “Hannah, I found the clothes damp. Why didn’t you turn the dryer on when you put Jonathan’s soccer stuff in it?”
She simply looked at me. “You didn’t tell me to turn it on.” I walked off mumbling to myself, wondering how she managed to get those 4.0s.
But the ultimate case of ALDD I have ever experienced, was when we were putting up a fence at a new house. My step-son worked for several hours digging holes deep enough for wooden posts to be cemented in. He and my husband poured the cement. Afterwards, he showered and was off to his friend’s house. My husband and I were still in the backyard when we heard a loud crunch. As he backed up in his car, he hit the last post he had just put in, and cracked it in half.
“How could you hit that post?” His father demanded.
He shrugged his shoulders. “I didn’t see it. I didn’t know it was there.”
By ~ Elizabeth Yalian ©2013