I decided to take my 14-year-old on a date to his favorite lunch place and Christmas shopping for his sister. On the way, I tried to talk to him. He was unresponsive. I looked over and noticed his ever-present headphones covering his ears. Sometimes he's listening to something and actually can't hear what's going on outside of them, but other times I suspect he's pretending to be unavailable but is listening to everything. I knocked on his headphones and signaled that I would like to make contact.
He inched one headphone forward an inch so he could at least partially hear. I asked if he could take them off long enough for me to tell him a quick story. He shrugged and complied. I said, "I went out with a guy one time who turned on the radio in his car immediately after he started the car. It was our first (and, as it turns out, last) date, so I thought we would be talking, getting to know each other. That's the point of dating, after all. But there was no conversation possible with the loud heavy metal music blaring throughout the car. After several minutes, he turned the volume down enough to say, "You're pretty quiet" and turn it right back up before I could even respond. That's the only thing I remember about that date and about him. I don't even remember his name. Don't grow up to be that guy."
He looked unimpressed and put his headphones back over his ears. I hope he noted it on some level. It's hard to relate to him lately. When he was younger and people saw me genuinely enjoying him, they would caution, "Oh, just wait till he's a teenager!" I really believed that the fun, happy, kid with the great sense of humor and unflappable joy would never become a sullen, self-absorbed, angry, moody teenager. I thought something must have gone wrong with those other kids, and it wouldn't happen to ours. I miss my sweet little boy.