Twelve-year-olds are at a tough spot in life

We were on our way to a football game when the boys realized the minivan was way too quiet.
“Let’s hear ‘Man in the Box,’” my 12-year-old son said.
It was his game we were going to so I told him the music was his call. Maybe he wanted to get his adrenaline up and a little angry music might be just the thing. He wanted AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” next, followed by …
“What’s this?” my 12-year-old nephew asked, pulling a CD from a small green case that held a selection of my wife’s music, which is something I wouldn’t listen to if threatened by bikers. I’m not criticizing my wife’s taste in music; I’m just saying my CD collection can beat up her CD collection.
He gave me the disc. It was from my three-year-old’s favorite movie. I smiled as I slid the CD into the stereo and the music started.
Guitar. Sheryl Crow. Drums.
Yeah, I thought as I glanced at the boys. Not quite rage-driven screaming electric guitar metal, is it? After a few seconds I reached to eject the disc and put in something a little more Iron Maiden and they both said, “no.”
“You sure?” I asked.
“I want to hear it,” my son said.
“Me too,” came from the back seat.
Hmm. So, that’s what gets nearly teenaged boys excited about life – early ’90s heavy metal/grunge, late-’70s hard rock and the title track from the Disney/Pixar animated movie “Cars.”
They sang the entire song – not missing a word – and when it was over they didn’t realize what had just happened. They’d admitted they were still kids.
“How about ‘Back in Black’?” my son asked.
Sure, why not?
Twelve year olds are in a tough spot in life. They’re old enough to feel giddy when a pretty girl smiles at them, but young enough to play with Legos. They’re four years away from driving but it’s still OK to watch Pokémon cartoons after school. They’re smart enough to operate a microwave oven, computer, video game system, TiVo and quite possibly the space shuttle, but they don’t realize carnival games are rigged.
And, as I found that afternoon, cartoon movie theme songs are just as cool as Sinatra was in 1960.
Yeah. It seems like yesterday I argued with him about which “Star Wars” villain was the most evil; Darth Vader or Darth Maul. Oh, wait. It was yesterday. Seriously, just yesterday. And, yes, Darth Vader rules – he blew up an entire planet. An entire planet.
One day the arguments will be about something more serious than “Star Wars,” but I’ll be ready. I have a secret weapon. During every second of his life, I’ve already been his age. I’m ready for anything.
Well, except, 1) the sex talk, 2) if he starts listening to whiny sweater rock. I don’t think I’m ready for that.

Jason’s book of ghost stories, “Haunted Missouri: A Ghostly Guide to the Show-Me State’s Most Spirited Spots,” is available at, or Visit Jason’s Web site,, for his other books.

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