I thought I could handle any type of teenage drama. I’d already done it all when I was in my teens… how could my kid surprise or shock me? I’d done drugs and drank alcohol. I’d cut my hair in all kinds of bizarre styles and dyed my hair every colour of the rainbow. I’d had tons of sex, protected and unprotected (his name is Liam), with both girls and boys. I’d listened to every kind of music and identified with every kind of rebellious group, from hippies to gutter punks. What was left?
I’d actually been worried about my son’s teenage rebellion, but not for the normal reasons. I wondered: if kids need to rebel to find themselves, how is my kid going to rebel when he has one incredibly laid-back and chill mama? When the time comes, should I act surprised or upset, just so he can feed his rebellious desires?
Turns out, I didn’t need to worry. Because no matter what you predict, no matter what you imagine, your child will always find a way to surprise you.
It started small. He wanted to make YouTube videos. Awesome, I thought, he’s expressing himself creatively, he’s coming into his own. Isn’t he amazing? I mean, he’s only 12, not even a teenager yet.
Then he wanted to call his YouTube persona Super Mega Nerd. Cool, I thought, what’s the harm in that? It’s good to be proud of who you are and what kinds of things interest you.
Then he punched the lenses out of a pair of thick-framed black sunglasses.
Then he started using hair gel. The kid who wouldn’t even let me towel-dry his hair as a toddler. The kid who has always brushed is hair flat and resisted any kind of styling. This kid started using hair gel. On. His. Own. Oh god, did he find a hair gel tutorial on YouTube? Have I been too lax about his Internet usage? Should I view his search history? What if I find “How to Act Like You Don’t Care Even When You Do,” “Review of Converse’s Fall Line,” “How to Make Knit Your Own Mason Jar Cozies,” and other horrors?
Now he’s pulling out the long-sleeved plaid shirts that his Gramma bought him, but that he’d always refused to wear. He’s asking if they “go” with his glasses.
This is what I’m dealing with, people. Why couldn’t he be into the normal teenage stuff, like sharing naked selfies or the Cinnamon Challenge? You know, things that don’t permanently damage my self-esteem?
They say you aren’t given more than you can handle, so I have to trust in the Universe to make this right. For now, I’ve learned some coping strategies. In sharing these strategies with parents everywhere, I hope to lessen the pain of hipsteria for families across Canada, North America, and the world.
What to do when your child becomes a hipster:
- Don’t acknowledge or discourage the rebellious behaviour as this will only make it worse.
- Attempt to limit exposure. Monitor media: he or she might be seeing hipsters in movies, video games, television, or the Internet. If you have hipster friends or relatives, stop inviting them over. If there are a lot of hipsters on the street where you live, stay at home as much as possible.
- Remove instruments of harm, such as crochet and knitting needles, sharp pencils, small tools, twine, glue, paper—anything that might be used to “DIY.”
- Lead by example. If you wear glasses, get contacts. Remove all plaid or natural fibers from your wardrobe. Stop reusing or re-purposing things you can just throw away.
- Care a lot about everything, all the time. Teach your child to do the same.