The Secret Life of Teenage Geeks

By Piper Bayard

My son is a geek. . . . It’s ok. I’m not insulting him. He’s very comfortable with the fact that he is a geek. He knows that geeks, especially those of the engineering variety, have high potential for good lives if they survive high school, and, at 6’7” tall and 260 lbs, he’s having no trouble surviving high school.

I recently had the opportunity to observe a huddle of 16-yr-old boys in their natural habitat (my family room), and as I watched them suck down copious amounts of food while never missing a kill with their gaming controls, I learned things I never would have guessed about boys back when I was a 16-yr-old girl.

The first thing is that 16-yr-old boys – at least the geeky engineering kind – are not ready to date. They didn’t speak much about girls, but what they did say let me know that the trashy girls are creepy to them, and, while they enjoy looking at all the girls and talking with the nice girls, they don’t see themselves as really having a place in their lives for girlfriends at this time. However, if the Victoria’s Secret supermodels wanted to take them in hand and teach them a few things, they would certainly love to be led.

They also have some eclectic tastes in music and amusements. Things like Jump, Jump, Jump Like a Kangaroo. It’s just a fun song, and kind of cool. I don’t think I knew what a diggeridoo was until I was at least twenty-five.

Then there’s Nyan Cat, the pop tart with a cat’s head that flies and p**ps rainbows. And the answer to it, Fiesta Dog. A flying taco with a dog’s head that lopes across the sky leaving a sparkly trail of blue stripes.

And let’s not miss the background music to one of their games. This is a piece by Cage the Elephant called Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked. Just in case you’re wondering, Cage the Elephant is a seemingly drunk garage band that somehow wandered into a recording studio, and no one caught them in time to prevent them from making a CD. I actually like a couple of their songs, and the rest of the CD I use to threaten the kids into silence on long road trips.

So back to the party. Excited utterances filled the air that night as the young men were consumed by the games as completely as they were, themselves, consuming our food.

“Screw you, Skippy the Turtle, you camping b*****d.” Apparently, “camping” in a combat video game is fun when you’re doing it, and annoying when anyone else does it.

“I hate these hacking noobs. We’re out of here.” Yes. People actually hack in and cheat in these games.

“Dude. Use the Wunder Waffle.” The Wunder Waffle (a.k.a. Wunderwaffe) is a gun used in Call of Duty that can shoot 15 zombies at a time.

And as for the Yo Mama jokes, I’m pleased to say I only knew about them because one young man is particularly loud, and his voice drifted up to the second floor now and then. The boys were all smiles and polite words when I was hanging out in the kitchen within their sight.

And while I was in the kitchen, I was deeply rewarded as a parent to see what sort of young man my son is becoming, and what wonderful company he keeps. They cleaned up their trash, kept each other in line, and respected our property. Also, there were five of them and only four game controls, but I constantly heard things like, “Two more matches, and we play R’s game,” and, “Here. You take this for a while.” On top of that, and warming my heart, they were all unfailingly courteous with Little Sister.

I confess I used to believe that teens had exactly no redeeming qualities, but now, 18 Cokes, 12 Pepsis, 2 ½ large pizzas, 16 breadsticks, ½ a cake, 2 boxes of Oreos, 1 bag of corn chips, 1 bag of potato chips, 1 pint of dip, 27 sausages, 11 turnovers, ½ gallon of lemonade, 28 honey BBQ boneless wings, and ½ box of Oats ‘n Crème cookies later, I revel in the privilege of getting to know and hang out with such fine human beings.

Young people these days. They’re just not as bad as they’re cracked up to be.

Do you have experience with teens? What do you see of Teen World?

All the best to all of you for avoiding hacking noobs, and watch out for Skippy the Turtle.

66 comments on “The Secret Life of Teenage Geeks

  1. susielindau says:

    I am so glad to hear that was not your kitchen table! Hahaha! I remember and treasure those days….

  2. Dave says:

    Are you really certain that’s not your table? How could you tell under all that debris?

  3. lryanis says:

    Nothing better than having the boys hang out at the house with their friends. Love hearing how respectful they are. Sounds like you had a great weekend.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      It was awesome. It more than doubled our grocery bill for the weekend while proportionately decreasing the nutritional value of the food, but it was priceless. Thanks for stopping by, Lori. Good to see you.

  4. brennagrimes says:

    Everything about this reminds me of my younger brother. The weird videos he sends me that I feel like I never get, the way he talks about video games that I have to decipher, the strange music…everything. He’s starting to grow up now (I’d hope so, he’s 20)…so these will soon be long lost memories.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Lol. “I’d hope so, he’s 20.” My husband, an engineer, was 29 at one of our first Christmases. I gave him a toy train. He and his friend (36 at the time) had a great evening setting it up on the kitchen table and running down the friend’s son’s plastic cows with it. I have to say I love that about men. They can be so fun at any age. Thanks for stopping by, Brenna. Good to see you.

  5. EllieAnn says:

    Love this. It’s true–young people aren’t as bad as they’re cracked up to be. But you know what they say about “bad” kids–“There is no bad student, only bad teacher,” so methinks you have a good kid on your hands because you’re a good parent. 🙂

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Thanks, Ellie. It’s my philosophy that they are born perfect, and it’s my job to not screw them up too badly. They are clearly resilient. They live with a writer, after all. Good to see you. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Loved this, Piper! My teens are now grown and parents of toddlers but your post brought back some great memories. We’re always hearing the criticisms about teens when really there is so much good to share. Thank you for this!

    SO TRUE “It more than doubled our grocery bill for the weekend while proportionately decreasing the nutritional value of the food, but it was priceless.”

    • Piper Bayard says:

      They’re wonderful people. Of course, they have their issues, but we all do. I don’t think they have more, and they aren’t necessarily more inept at dealing with them. So glad I could bring you a smile, Patricia. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Oh no. I sort of liked that song by Cage the Elephant. When am I ever going to grow up? Gah!

    You know, I believe that teenagers get a bad rap. They’re big kids or young adults but however you categorize them, it sounds like your son and his friends are damn fine human beings. Good on you, Mama.

  8. Stacy Green says:

    So nice to hear about teenagers with respect. Seems like nowadays they are all full of themselves with no clue what manners are. Good for you for raising a quality teenager:)

    • Piper Bayard says:

      They can be full of themselves with no clue about manners at times, but I often find adults that way, too, and I’ve been guilty, myself. But overall, they really are wonderful people. I hope they can do half of what they dream of for our world. Thanks for stopping by, Stacy.

  9. Julie Glover says:

    First of all, Olivia Newton-John (am I dating myself or what?) had a song called, “I Bet You a Kangaroo,” with the lyrics, “I bet you a kangaroo we could all dance to a diggeridoo.” Nice to hear that word is getting some play again. 🙂

    As for male teens, that’s the world I’ll be living in. We are entering that phase with two sons. Food is starting to disappear from the pantry and refrigerator at alarming rates, but for the most part, my sons and their friends are a pretty good lot. Nice to hear something positive about today’s teens, Piper!

    • Piper Bayard says:

      It’s so true about the food. When we look at the cost of college (2 1/2 years away) we figure in our savings from not feeding our son at our house. That should be good for the tuition, anyway. Thanks for stopping by, Julie.

  10. I never was around too many teens, but the mental images you created made me laugh out loud. I was a geeky female teen myself who never grew up…still waiting to meet my perfect male geek counterpart.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      For a wonderful geek male counterpart, I highly recommend martial arts classes. Find a dojo where the focus is on the students, not on sensei worship, and you’ll find some nice men. I met my hubby in an aikido dojo, and I know of several successful martial arts marriages.

      Glad I could give you a laugh, Heather. Thanks for stopping by.

  11. Donald Bueltmann says:

    My sons always brought their friends to our house and they were very respectful to each other and us. In fact 30 years later I still communicate with some of them on Facebook.

  12. Fabio Bueno says:

    Maybe I’m a teen at heart, because Aint No Rest For The Wicked is in fact a song in my WIP’s playlist.
    I can’t wait until my kids become teens, and I start to have these kind of experiences.
    *looking at the picture of the mess*
    On second thought… yes, I can wait.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Lol. Could mean you’re a guy, and you know what they say. In every man is the hint of a boy, and in every girl is the threat of a woman. 🙂 Good to see you, Fabio. Thanks for stopping by.

  13. Julie says:

    I don’t have teenagers, but I’m glad to know that they can still have decent human qualities. 😉

  14. Your son sounds fahhhbulous! My step son was much the same at 16 – no interest in girls, all about gaming, and big into math. GREAT kids with tons of personality and potential. Alas, if only he would have learned to CLEAN, our world would have been perfect. That was his one thing. He refused. Many times I would venture down to his bathroom to find the tub turning pink all over from mildew growth and the battle of the clean with his father would take off. LOL!
    He’s 19 now. 6’9″ and 150 pounds soaking wet. Taking electrical engineering at university, living with his girlfriend in their own pad and working part time. WE are soooo proud!! And so happy he’s now destroying his own bathroom. LOL!

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Lol. My kids have had to clean their own bathrooms for years for exactly that reason. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience, Natalie. Your young man sounds awesome, too. 🙂

  15. KM Huber says:

    I don’t have children, either, although for a few years, I did help raise two children. This was some years ago but these two young girls changed my rather severe outlook on teenagers (having been such a challenging one, myself, in the ’60s). I, too, discovered that their bad behavior was rather exaggerated, and they were just trying to find their way and did. Great post.

  16. They are not THAT geeky if they don’t play Minecraft. It’s like the litmus test of the geek world. And no Vat19? Whaaat? Days Boot? I’m thinking your son is not really a geek. Never been beaten up?

    He’s a wannabe geek. 😉

    All the gaming has just delayed everyone maturity.

    Which works out well for the real geeks.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      He actually does play Minecraft. 🙂 But he and his friends are on track team so that may negate some of the geek factor, to be sure.

      As for never being beaten up, there were a couple of times in kindergarten and first grade, and then he started hitting back. That was the end of that. Sometimes kids will want to show off by threatening the big guy. The other day, five wannabe thugs half his size challenged him. Their leader said they were going to beat the crap out of him. My son, who is, perhaps unwisely, completely confident in his size, calmly asked, “You want to think that through?” They muttered a bit and then turned around.

      Ok. I’m going to stop now. I could talk about my little guy all day. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, Renee. 🙂

  17. tomwisk says:

    The only thing I can share about teens is having been one, once. Teens will cogregate at homes where the parents are cool and allow them room to enjoy themselves. Nothing drives them away faster than a cruise director parent who schedules activities. You seem like a cool parent.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      I’m just happy they are congregating in person instead of on the computer. As for scheduled activities, I take my kids on forced marches up mountains or to museums or the zoo a few times a year, but I have too much trouble scheduling my own activities to schedule too many of theirs. Thanks for your comment, Tom. I don’t know if I’m a cool parent or not, but I do love the teens and seem to get along well with them. Good to see you.

  18. gojulesgo says:

    This was very heartwarming! My closest contact with teens lately has been the ones on Little People, Big World, LOL, and they sound a lot like your son and his friends – respectful (and hungry)!

  19. Jillian Dodd - Glitter, Bliss and Perfect Chaos says:

    My kitchen island looks that way pretty much every weekend. It amazes me how much boys that age can eat. You’d swear their own mother never feed them. (But you know she did just an hour ago.) Mine son will be 16 next month, and I know. They really have the same attitude toward girls. The still ride bikes, have massive nerf gun wars, ride their bikes through the mud (I came home to a PILE of 8 boy’s muddy clothes yesterday!) play video games and eat. They are a lot of fun to be around. They each have their own thing too. One plays soccer, a couple others run cross country, my son races, another plays lacross. It’s cool how boys are so accepting.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      They really are so accepting, aren’t they? I love that about them. And you make a great observation about them all having their own things, too. My son and his friends do, as well. And while there’s always a certain level of affectionate verbal abuse between them, they don’t really argue about anything. They’re great at working things out.

      8 boys’ muddy clothes? Wow! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience, Jillian.

  20. J Holmes says:

    I love Piper’s kids. They are my “bonus” nephew and niece. They are very thoughtful compassionate people and they both have a strong sense of the importance of differentiating between right and wrong. They both value fairness and reason.

    One of the nice things about Piper’s son is that when I pretend to threaten him, even when he’s busy thinking about something else he still takes a moment to pretend to be mildly concerned by my threat.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Lol. He’s not pretending. He knows you could kick his a$$ if you wanted to. He knows you wouldn’t choose to do so, though. 🙂 They both feel lucky to have “Uncle Holmes” in their lives.

  21. I enjoyed every minute of my daughter’s teen years – and all the girlfriends she’d bring home to hang out or spend the night. I was listed in their senior yearbook as the class’s Pa.

  22. Andrew says:

    Ah…judging by the song they were playing Borderlands (great game, though I over played it and it’ll probably be awhile before I play it again). I may not be a teenager, but I am a geek/nerd, haha. Funny thing is I’ve been wondering who sung that song and where I could find it…didn’t expect to find it on your blog 😀

    Anywho, Yeah us gamer types get a bum rap. Certainly some of us live up to the stereotypes, but I think even among the community they’re looked at as pariah’s because they just aren’t that fun to be around. Then again I’m not a hardcore type gamer (as in I don’t play a lot of shooters and I don’t play online, like it seems your son and his friends do from your description) so I’m kinda on the outside looking in on the community. I’m still a Nintendo kid 😛

    • Piper Bayard says:

      My son and his friends do play online. It’s their version of hanging out in the street or playing baseball. Being an adherent of Baseball, I would prefer that they were outside playing, but I’m glad they can get together at the end of a long day of school and homework.

      Glad I could help you out with that song. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience, Andrew. Good to see you. 🙂

  23. Hi Piper. Yeah, I think kids do get criticized for all sorts of things, but they’re growing up in a world very different to their predecessors, they’re bound to be different. I have 3 more years to go till we hit the teenage years, so I better go and practice with my thumbs so I can keep up on the game consoles 🙂

    On the plus side I already have Ain’t no rest for the wicked in my iTunes library, so I’m almost ready.


    • Piper Bayard says:

      Lol. Nigel, I’m feeling better knowing I’m not the only one of my contemporaries who likes that song.

      Their world is very different. I’ve warned my kids that I don’t know everything. But while the world changes, I think people pretty much stay the same. Sounds like you’ve got a good start for keeping up with them. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Nigel.

  24. I love this post. I am the first to defend the reputation of teens since I have worked with them daily for 17 years now. It’s too easy (and ultimately a massive copout not to mention unintelligible) to take a wide brush and paint a mass group of people with one stroke. (Forgive me for that metaphor fail). Thanks for showing teens as they so often are. Funny, quirky, nerdy, polite, hungry. And geeky too. 🙂

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Thanks, Leanne. I used to be one of those people who met teens with blanket condemnations. I could not have been more wrong. I think it’s because the only ones I came into contact with were the bad drivers who texted and talked on the phone while tailgating me and cutting me off in traffic. Now I know they are the minority. Thanks so much for stopping by and adding your voice. Good to see you. 🙂

  25. Isn’t it great when you realize that you have raised an awesome kid- Congrats Piper 🙂

  26. Geeks rock! I was geeky in high school. 🙂

  27. Sherry Isaac says:

    I barely survived high school, detested (envied?) teens when I was in my twenties, and had no idea how I would continue to love and cherish my little ones (two boys, two girls) once they reached puberty.
    Youngest is in university now. Oldest three are in relationships, one owns a house, one is engaged, one has made me a grandmother.
    Wow. I loved them through it. In fact, until this post, I barely noticed they’d ever been teens.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Like you, high school was awful for me, and I thought teens were a plague. I kept waiting for my kids to turn into monsters, but so far, so good on that score. Sounds like you have a wonderful family. Thanks for sharing your experience, Sherry. 🙂

  28. Aww, so cool! It totally sounds like a night with my son and his friends. Geek kids are the best – they’re smart, polite, well, all the things you mentioned in your blog. I’m glad they had a great time.

  29. Wow! All that food in just one sitting!? Ah, the metabolism of a teen 😉

  30. Jane Sadek says:

    Most of my teen interaction happens either in a church setting or THE MALL. I like the kids at church. They seem closely related to the group that invaded your house. The mall rats fall into two categories. Some are so cute that I just want to hug them, which of course would mortify them. The balance of the teen population seems to be begging for annihilation, but I figure they’ll grow out of it. I really can’t say much in the way of criticism though, because I wore fishnet hose, white lipstick and go-go boots. I actually thought Herman’s Hermits and Bobby Sherman produced real music.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      I know what you mean about that other half, and, like you, I remember how I used to be and figure they have at least as good a chance of growing out of it as I did. I still miss my go-go boots. They were so cool. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience, Jane.

  31. Wait, are those surveillance photos from my house last Saturday night?
    I have 2 teens, I so relate, esp. with food consumption!

    • Piper Bayard says:

      It’s amazing, isn’t it? I always heard the term to eat someone out of house and home, but I had no idea there was so much truth in it. Good to see you, Coleen. Thanks for stopping by.

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