Illustration by Leanna.

Illustration by Leanna.

Dear Concerned Parent or Guardian,

We are delighted that your child will be joining us for the 2015–2016 school year at Abraham Lincoln High School, and look forward to watching them excel as they continue their journey down the path of education. (Please note: A.L.H.S.’s actual Path of Education is closed due to a recent termite infestation; please do NOT send anyone to the Path of Education, we are speaking purely in metaphorical terms here. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.)

Aside from providing an excellent and rigorous academic program for your young adult, we also strive to provide a positive, healthy social environment. The teenage years can be difficult, filled with pressures and unpredictable fads, and in order to assure that all of our students are achieving their maximum potential both inside and outside the classroom, we’d like to take a moment to educate parents by offering a TEEN DECODER.

Remember: Communication is important! And if your teen won’t talk to you, at least this decoder will help you understand what they’re talking about! Please note that we’ve included a primary and an alternate interpretation of each popular teen phrase or expression, to ensure that as many bases as possible are covered:

When your teen says: “I’m tired.”
Your teen means: “I’m on drugs. Drugs! Drugs all the time, teens love drugs.”
Alternately: “My body is changing, and so are my thoughts and emotions. It is a difficult and exhausting process. Please stop running around screaming ‘Drugs!’ at the top of your lungs. Seriously: What is up with you?”

When your teen says: “Can we have spaghetti for dinner?”
Your teen means: “I am preparing for several years of juvenile delinquency and there’s not a gosh darn thing you can do about it.”
Alternately: I love spaghetti, which is why I’m requesting it for dinner. Are you OK? Why do you keep looking at me like that?”

When your teen says: “I’m going to my friend Kit’s house to study.”
Your teen means: “I’m going to my friend Kit’s house to do drugs/drink alcohol/start World War III.”
Alternately: “I really am going to Kit’s house to study. Kit is very good at algebra, and her mom always buy the good party mix. You know which kind I mean, right? The spicy kind with the little brown crunchy things in it. Are you listening to me? Did you just say something about World War III? You’re freaking me out.”

When your teen says: “It’s just a few of us hanging out.”
Your teen means: “I’m joining an apocalyptic cult, and my new name is Zeebob. The truth is coming! All planets align! ZEEBOB HAS SPOKEN!”
Alternately: “I am going to hang out with some friends. At some point we will probably watch a movie, or something. Maybe have some more of that spicy party mix, who knows? The night is young and so are we, or whatever. What? No, I don’t know anyone named Zeebob. What are you talking about?”

When your teen says: “I love you.”
Your teen means: “Buy the spicy party mix or Zeebob will destroy you! Gleebo-gorbo! Deebo-dorbo! Wooble-womble-wiz!”
Alternately: “I love you, you weirdo.”

We hope this helps you and your teen clearly communicate during the upcoming school year. Remember: The key to understanding your teen is to think like a teen but freak out like a parent. Somewhere in the middle lies the truth.

Marva Tack, Ed.D.
Abraham Lincoln High School ♦