Calculations that lead to the Dramatic Teen Eye Roll
by Richard Keller
Math is an everyday necessity for parents, whether it involves calculating the number of socks missing from the dryer, dividing an eight-slice pizza among 20 kids, or when it comes to big families, adding up the children to make sure they’re all present before leaving the mall. Additional variables can be thrown in here or there, like the amount of time it takes a typical teenage girl to, yet again, change outfits before making her parents late, but most of the time the formulas are straightforward.
Except when it comes to childhood behavior. When this happens, numerators and denominators no longer help. Instead, the use of mathematical arguments and operations goes into effect. Take for example the common mathematical argument known as the Embarrassment Theorem.
Created when the first teenager sighed and rolled her eyes at the first parent, the Embarrassment Theorem states this: The level of embarrassment a parent inflicts on his child is directly proportional to the child’s increased age. To prove, parents start at the beginning, which is null since there's nothing a newborn or toddler thinks is embarrassing in a parent. They can perform silly dances, do voices, or shoot milk out of their nose and the littlest ones eat it all up. Then again, as sneezing makes them crack up, the littlest kids are an easy and malleable audience.
This pattern continues through the earliest years of elementary school, with only the merest hint of potential embarrassment when they don't laugh at an animal imitation. It's only when children reach 3rd or 4th grade that the amount of embarrassment begins to overtake enjoyment. Things that made them giggle just a year prior are received with a “Daaaadddd!” or “Moooommm!” or “Not here, in front of everyone.” They acknowledge the adult’s status as a guardian and may even hang out with them, but conversation is formal at best.
By the time kids reach 5th grade, the embarrassment factor jumps exponentially. 'Daaaadddd!' becomes a short, harsh whisper of “Dad!” with the beginnings of P.T.E.R.–Pre-Teen Eye Roll. They still acknowledge parental status, but don’t let them anywhere near the school except for drop-off and pick-up. Once kids hit middle school, parent embarrassment nearly reaches its peak on the chart, as the simple act of stopping by a classroom to say hello to a child’s teacher becomes an exercise in red-faced humiliation.
The theorem reaches apex at the same time children hit puberty. In this period of fragility, the parent, without the non-verbal D.T.E.R, Dramatic Teen Eye Roll, followed by the D.T.A.C., Dramatic Teen Arm Crossing, and the D.T.H.S., Dramatic Teen Heavy Sigh, can say nothing. When D.T.E.R., D.T.A.C. and D.T.H.S. are used in combination, it means the parent in question has embarrassed his child to the point of being ostracized by her peers. This is normally followed by a proclamation that she must have been adopted because her real parents would never embarrass her so.
Luckily, the humiliation factor begins to ebb somewhere around senior year of high school. It’s then that an inverse theorem takes effect that states the level of embarrassment a parent inflicts on their child is reduced in young adulthood. In fact, as children reach this age-level, they become fonder of those times when their parents lip-synched Adele in front of their study group or dressed up as Alice Cooper during one Halloween, all in order to get the car keys or extra money to spend at a college pub. Soon enough, children are hanging out with their parents again, resulting in a null value for the theorem.
Good news is the Embarrassment Theorem is transferable between generations, meaning today’s parents will eventually get to watch their own children struggle with D.T.E.R and D.T.A.C. while they make their grandkids laugh with funny cartoon voices.