Tracy Beckerman is the author of a wildly popular syndicated humor column called LOST IN SUBURBIA and a hilarious new book “Rebel without a Minivan”. It's all about the funny side of kids, dogs, husbands, and life in the 'burbs!

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Parents are from Earth: Teenagers are from Mars©  

My son went off to sleepaway camp, and when he came back, he was a teenager.

I guess that’s better than having him come back as a cat or an iguana. However the transformation was so complete, he may as well have turned into another species.

This did not come as a total surprise to me. After all, I was a kid once too, and I remember going through this “rebellious, not want to talk to anybody, get a crazy haircut and a tattoo, hate my parents, think I was the smartest person in the world” stage, myself.

Of course, I was 35 when I did all that, but I get it nonetheless.

Still, I always thought my kids would have a kinder, gentler transition into adolescence. For one thing, we had a great relationship. My kids actually liked to spend time with me. They thought I was a cool mom. A very cool mom. But the day my son turned 13, I suddenly became only somewhat cool. By the time he left for camp, I had become so completely uncool that I could have defrosted the polar ice cap. It really was truly amazing that I could become such a dork in such a short amount of time without any effort on my part or any change in my appearance, taste in music, or wardrobe. Go figure.

The next indication I got that something was different was in his language development. When we called him at camp, we noticed that he seemed to have regressed back to his toddler days when one word answers were all he could manage.

“Hey kiddo,” I said enthusiastically.

“S’up,” he replied.

“How’s camp.


“Anything special you want to tell us about?”


“Do you need us to send anything?”


“Did aliens from outer space capture you, take you away in their spaceship, and replace with you with a zombie pod?”


“OK, just checking.”

I realized when he got home that the reason he no longer needed actual language was because he had texting. Apparently people between the ages of 13 and younger than me have discovered that it’s more efficient to LOL (laugh out loud) with your BFF (best friend forever) in text, then actually TLK-2-U (talk to you) in person, which is just too ZZZ (boring).

Since I was not really fluent in text-ese, I knew I was going to have to find another way to communicate with my son that did not involve either actual talking, or using my thumbs to spell out words.

This is when I discovered that there is a common language that binds us all: Food.

“Hey kiddo,” I said enthusiastically.

“S’up,” he replied.

“How was school?”

“I’m hungry,” he said, ignoring my question. “Can I have some food?”

“Yes, right after you tell me about school.”

“It was fine. We had an assembly and I took a French test.”

“Cool,” I said sweetly. “Here are some Oreos.”

“Thanks, Mom. You rock!”


©2008, Beckerman. All rights reserved. For more Lost in Suburbia, visit Tracy Beckerman at, and check out her hilarious new book “Rebel without a Minivan” at Amazon and

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