Gender, Communication and the Adolescent Male. A Recipe for Disaster.

The years of intercultural miscommunication are finally paying off. Having created chaos and given offense across three continents, I am now the acknowledged expert in the art of the apology, and thanks to Wiggy One, yesterday I got to practice them, Yet again.

For those of you with teenage sons, I know you feel my pain. For those of you who have yet to experience the joy that can only be found in trying to raise an adolescent male, you might want to file this letter away for future reference, because you are going to need it.

Dear Ms X,

I was somewhat alarmed at The Wiggy One’s current English grade, and on close questioning he confessed that after completing what he felt was an inspired essay on the themes contained within The Scarlet Letter, he followed it up with the classic line ” And I didn’t even read the book”. I was unsurprised to see your “Let’s talk” response, and can only congratulate you on your restraint.

I can vouch for the fact that he has in fact read the book in its entirety, mainly because he generously shares his discontent with the writing of Nathaniel Hawthorne on a nightly basis at the dinner table, and has stolen all of my Post It notes. I can only hope that War and Peace is not on the curriculum this year, or I may have to abandon home cooked meals in favor of TV dinners and a locked stationary cabinet.

I have yet to comprehend the inner workings of the teenage male mind, and consider my day a success if no-one died and nobody got pregnant. Low standards, I know, but it’s either that or risk developing an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. What I am looking forward to is that pivotal moment in college when he realizes that all the interest, time and effort that others have invested in him over the years has been because we are all kind, good and caring people, and not because he is the Uncrowned King of the Universe or the Second Coming, both of which seem to be common delusions in adolescent males.

We have had a sustained discussion on the value of knowing the line between off the cuff humour and being a disrespectful arse, and how he has crossed it. I have also pointed out that if he fails to rescue the situation, his dreams of college may be rather closer to home (i.e the local Community College) than he anticipated. You will be delighted to know that not only did you succeed in fostering his understanding of classic literature, but also of the consequences of ill-thought out comments and a newfound respect for the role (and power) of educators in shaping one’s future.

At this point, I should probably be pleading with you to grade him on his written efforts rather than his verbal idiocy. Truthfully, I would rather not have to deal with the repercussions of a 0 grade for the next 18 months, nor his potential extended residence at home, so I do appreciate any clemency that you might offer. However, I must also thank you for teaching him a very valuable lesson about words, actions, consequences and adolescent insanity. I have a feeling that this will be one of his defining High School moments.

Yours sincerely,



(Photo courtesy of The State Library of New South Wales)

7 thoughts on “Gender, Communication and the Adolescent Male. A Recipe for Disaster.”

  1. Sadly I was a little gleeful that it’s not just me and my son 🙂 I’m sure the English teacher would give you an ‘A*’ for the letter though!!

  2. I certainly hope that teacher X enjoyed reading your letter, and was no doubt chuckling while she did so. I wonder what grade you will both get? Teenage boys are a dilemma aren’t they?!

    1. You will be delighted to know we (I feel I should share the credit) got an A. Abject apologies go a long way..

    1. Feel free to – this one was really sent, and there is no greater blessing than a High School teacher with a sense of humor..

  3. Hilarious, accurate, sadly more necessary than we’d like to think. You get an A+ on your letter. Love how you linked present actions to future repercussions (e.g., living at home longer). She does indeed have a sense of humor and working knowledge of the teenage mind; he’s lucky she didn’t mark him down for not offering his own apology. Imagine she left that on the table for you to torture him with!

  4. Nice one Rach.

    It is a shame they do not teach kids how to write grovelling letters in English these days; the skill is far more useful as a parent than being able to critique a book!

    I used to have essay titles written in my English book and in the blank space underneath Mrs O’Driscol would write “Where is this essay” in red pen. With hindsight, I should at least have drawn a picture of a giraffe.

    Best regards,


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