Teen Terms

anna bubbleLast night, my husband and I were in the family room of our base house, droning into another morally bankrupt reality show, when suddenly, there was a rumbling down the staircase.

“Mom! Dad! Mom! Dad! Mom! Dad!” our 16-year-old daughter, Anna, sputtered, while jumping up and down in front of us.

“What is it, Anna!” I shouted, half expecting her hair to be on fire.

“He asked me to hang out! He asked me to hang out! He asked me to hang out!” Anna yelled while fist-pumping into the air.

Who asked you to, to … to hang out, and what do you mean, ‘hang out’ anyway?”

Still surging with pent up excitement, Anna grabbed the arm of the couch, and repeatedly kicked both feet behind her. “Alden! Alden! Alden asked me to hang out!” she answered between donkey kicks.

We already knew all about Alden. In fact, every day for the last few months, we’d been hearing Anna talk about this boy – how cute he was, how he would come to the Art room to talk to her after school, how great the article was that he wrote for the school newspaper, how he was named Athlete of the Week, how he danced with her at the holiday ball, how he kissed her in the theater costume closet, yada, yada, yada.

“Oh,” my husband chimed in, “you mean he finally asked you out on a real date?”

Oh, Geeze. I wish he hadn’t said that. For the next 20 minutes, our daughter rolled her eyes, tsked, and sighed while trying to explain why he was not her boyfriend and they were certainly not going on a date. “We’re just hanging out!” Anna said with one last spasmodic flail of arms and legs, before running off to get dolled up to meet Alden.

Apparently, teen romance as we know it has changed completely. The terms “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” are now used sparingly, only when two teenagers are very “serious.” Until then, they are referred to as “talking.” When one talking teen asks his corresponding talking teen to go out with him to a restaurant or movie, this is most definitely not a date. Now, this is called “hanging out.”

But be aware that “hanging out” must not be confused with “hooking up” which, thankfully does not mean what it did back in the eighties. Nowadays “hooking up” is a vague term that can be used to describe anything from a mere peck on the cheek, to — God Forbid — all kinds of other acts in which our teenage daughter will not engage unless she wants to be grounded for life. Also, parents should refrain from referring to kissing as “making out,” “mashing,” “frenching,” or “necking,” which teenagers today consider as antiquated as butterfly clips and Beanie Babies.

Anna eventually reappeared in the family room, all glossed up and ready to go on her non-date with her non-boyfriend. My husband drove her to the base gate, and got out of the car to introduce himself to Alden. After shaking hands, Anna’s father looked the boy directly in the eye for a moment, communicating without the need for words that, regardless of what terms teens are using these days, we’ve all been there, and we know exactly what they’re up to.

Back when Anna and I spoke the same language

Back when Anna and I spoke the same language

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Comments: 5

  1. John Coleman January 15, 2015 at 9:39 am Reply

    Oh, fantastic post! A few years ago I was introduced to the new relationship lexicon by my son, who will turn 23 in a couple of days. I think our terms were made much more sense. Peace and best, John

    • Lisa Smith Molinari January 18, 2015 at 11:17 am Reply

      True, it doesn’t seem to make any sense these days. The boy I reference in my post just asked my daughter to formal in a very public sweet romantic way, but they are NOT dating NOR are they boyfriend and girlfriend… hu?

  2. Behind the Story January 11, 2015 at 11:52 pm Reply

    It’s hard to keep up with dating customs. It sounds like your daughter is right on track. I think it’s good to have some experience dating (or at least “hanging out”) before college.

  3. Anonymous January 10, 2015 at 11:42 am Reply

    Warmed by the fact that you try to communicate with your children and their friends. I remember a night in the late fifties when I was leaving on a date and Mom Spatz shouted to me “remember the Alamo”. Huh???

    • Lisa Smith Molinari January 18, 2015 at 11:18 am Reply

      Mom Spatz probably had it all figured out, and knew that love is a battlefield!

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