Teens and Basements: It’s Party Time!

Hey guys, look what I found!

Guys, look what I found!

As teens, we had parties in our parents’ basements, too. But now the language has changed. Here’s how I learned to catch on.

“Have you heard of the Chill, yet?”

She knew I hadn’t but it was just like my friend Sheryl to ask. Her kids hit the teen years first so she’s perfectly poised to present the next step in my parenting path each time we meet for dinner. While I hang on her every word, while secretly thinking my kids are sure to be different from hers, she shares.

The Chill, she says, is not to be confused with the Jam. When a few kids – boys and girls – get together, they chill at someone’s house. It’s not a party but there may be drugs, alcohol and/or sex (hookups or hu’s).

The Jam is the rockin house party with no limit on all of the above. Invites come by Facebook, BBM messenger, or an online link. While kids tend to chill in basements with parents upstairs, the Jam is notoriously unsupervised and may end with vomiting and sirens.

OK, calm down, people. These concepts are old. They’re just repurposed with cooler names.

In my day, open parties got thrown when parents were out of town (Sorry, Mom and Dad, but we didn’t have Skype back then and anyway, who told you to go to China?). We had no computers yet but there was the high school grapevine, which traveled just as fast. One year, when a party threatened to get crashed, my brother and his posse marched outside to scare a gang from a rival school into taking off. Why the neighbors never called the cops to our little suburban cul-de-sac crawling with wasted teens I’ll never know.

Basements have been around forever, too. My high school boyfriend and I essentially lived in the one at his parents’ house. After school, we’d wave hello to his mom on our race to the stairs. Let’s just say there was no homework going on down there.

“My kids hate the basement,” I told Sheryl. When we tried to shoo them down there, they complained it was cold (never mind the heated floors), with nothing to do (never mind the TV and pool table).

“Yeah, then they’re going to other basements,” Sheryl said, which got me thinking. The teens were out all the time. Why didn’t they invite their friends here?

A few months later, my teen asked if she and a friend could go “chill” at some guy’s house. I accepted the new word into our mutual vocabulary without flinching – cool mom that I am. But then I raced to my computer and emailed Sheryl.

Which one’s the chill again?

She shot back her definition and advised me to talk to my child about sex, drugs and booze - despite the fact that she was barely 13 and it was a sunny Sunday afternoon. Apparently, in basements, age and time of day are irrelevant. Apparently, it was also time to start having kids check their backpacks at the door when they come to my house – to chill.

When the kids were little, our basement was a play room, and after a long hiatus, it has become a play room again. It’s a new stage, and one that I welcome. I’m glad to have the kids around more and I like getting to know their friends. Plus, it’s about time the third floor of our house got some use.

Time to lock up the liquor.



About randi

Randi Chapnik Myers & Mara Shapiro don't get fazed by their teens. At least they try not to.


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