Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Mind of the Tween Boy

What does the "tween" boy think? How does he act? What motivates him?

Never having been a tween boy, I've never been quite sure about this, and the lack of major boy characters in my novels reflects this gap in my knowledge.

This weekend, however, I took a brief journey into the weird and wondrous world of the tween male while chaperoning a ski trip.

Pile four 13- and 14-year-old boys into your car for a two-hour ride back and forth to the mountains and blend into the background as any self-respecting chaperone is expected to do, and you have a ready-made laboratory for monitoring the behavior of this shadowy subculture.

Here's what I took away from the trip:

  1. Having the right songs downloaded onto one's iPod is of paramount importance to today's tween boy.
  2. Having the appropriate ring-tone song choice matched to the appropriate caller on one's cell phone is of paramount importance to today's tween boy.
  3. Anything and everything related to music and the devices used to play music are of paramount importance to today's tween boy.
  4. Tween girls come in a distant second to music in terms of importance to today's tween boy.
  5. Tween boys talk about tween girls in much the same way tween girls talk about tween boys, though some of the language used may be different (e.g., "You should totally go after Kayley, dude. She was looking at you all night. Seriously.")
  6. Tween boys can pack away a lot of food.

True, this is not enough to build a novel around. Four hours in the car with four boys hardly makes me an expert. But at least I know now to add some rock band t-shirts to my minor boy characters' wardrobes.

14 comments:

Colorado Writer said...

My tween boy was motivated by Tivo, candy, Yu-Gi-Oh cards, cell phone rings, iPod songs, Robot Chicken, Family Guy and the Simpsons. He likes girls sort of, but they are not a priority.

He is going to be 16 on Tuesday and has pretty much the same interests he's always had.

LindaBudz said...

Robot Chicken? Wha? Clearly I still have much to learn.

Happy Birthday to your TEEN boy! Does this mean a driver's license is in his near future? Gaaah!

Colorado Writer said...

A drivers instructional permit. YIKES!

Joe Bruzzese said...

Linda, your story brought humor to my day. Thanks for sharing your adventures. The life of a tween boy is filled with the daily challenge of being cool while clinging to what's left of his childhood. Your post highlights the best of these years. I'm babbling. Thanks again for sharing. I think my readership at thinking-forward.com would love to share in the resources you have to offer. I linked to your blog in a recent post (http://www.thinking-forward.com/2008/01/resources-to-sh.html)
Enjoy the weekend ahead.
Regards,
Joe Bruzzese

LindaBudz said...

Welcome, Joe, and thanks for the link! I remember my tween-girl years all too well ... I think you have characterized the "challenge" nicely. One reason that age group is so much fun to write about (and for) ... all that built-in conflict!

Joe Bruzzese said...

Challenge, confidence and connection are three of the big themes that seem to characterize the middle school experience. The focus on "challenge" as you have described keeps finding its way back into the conversation. Great to connect with you. Online collaboration is wonderful.
Regards,
Joe

Anonymous said...

Linda, your post made me laugh out loud!

My tween boys were real sneaky . . .

They would steal entire packages of cookies, play practical jokes on their sisters, and basically plot and conspire against the whole family. No telling how long they got away with this, but I thought they were taking showers when I sent them up for the night – that is, until I caught them rinsing their heads in the sink and sprinting back to their Nintendo. (I was tipped off by one of our girls. Paybacks!) Their shenanigans made it impossible to wake them up for school in the morning. Again, the two of them decided it was just easier to sleep in their school clothes in order to save time. I wondered why their clothes were so wrinkled!

Friends, skateboards, bikes, Nintendo, and snacks were tops – girls were not important at all! (However, we had to deal with tons of them calling the house constantly. Drove me crazy because the boys didn’t want to stop and talk to them!)

Yes, I think you can build a novel on these little gems. Grin.

Kimberly Lynn

Angela said...

Great post. My son who's an almost tween, is motivated by all thing Halo, air soft guns and war. He definitely notices the girls and says, "Yeah, now that's what I'm talkin' about" when he sees the women on Herbal Essense hair product commercials. I can see what I have to look forward to...

LindaBudz said...

Kimberly Lynn and Angela ... sounds as though y'all have your hands full! This is a real education for me ... I might even feel a character starting to take shape....

Anonymous said...

Thank God mine are grown now, but I still have scars! Ha.

KL

Angela said...

I have girls, but work with kids.

Love your research!!

And I can tell you had fun doing it.

Not that I suggest anyone do this...but when I mentioned I was giving away my baby stuff at work, someone with tweens and teens asked for the baby monitor. No, she wasn't expecting -spying on her kids. I was glad that someone else beat her to it!

(I don't think she was a writer either!)

LindaBudz said...

KL, I know what you mean. I have two grown step-daughters, and those scars can take a while to fade!

Angela, I can totally see the temptation to do that ... but a teen deserves some modicum of privacy. I'm glad someone beat her to it, too!

:)

Kimberly Lynn said...

Who would want to know everything about their kids? It would spoil our delusions of their innocence.

LindaBudz said...

LOL, so true, Kimberly Lynn, so true.

P.S. Cute picture of you! Wish we could all live in sunny FLA!