Mozzarella Sticks

Have you had any recent experiences dining in a restaurant with a teenager lately? I have. If you’re wondering what it’s like, allow me to share some photos from my lunch with Will over the weekend.

Aside from the fact that Will isn’t much for conversation to begin with, the distraction of his phone means I might have an obscured view of his face… but only until the food comes. And, I ordered his favorite appetizer…Mozzarella Sticks.

Will on phone

At least he still likes to sit by me.

Notice his little brothers are invited to sit at the booth across from us, lest they burp, or spill their pop (which they did), or ask the waitress if they smell like beef and cheese (which they also did).

PJ John Booth Buzzcuts

But, I digress.

Back to the teenager in the booth across from me.

The key to getting the boy out from behind the phone is saying something that is more interesting than You Tube videos.

These conversation starters have worked for me…

  • Honey – did I pay you for mowing the lawn that last time in October? I can’t remember….
  • I was doing the laundry and found $20 in the wash. Did you lose any money?
  • I’m planning to go to Target after lunch. Would you like to spend that Christmas gift card from Grandma?

Notice a theme?


It works like a charm.
will phone engagement

Look what happened. He IS there. Engaging. Interested. Such a sweet kid.

Until I bring up homework.

Or church.

Or vacuuming (his chore).

And then… the phone is slowly pulled up to cover his face like a burqa.

Yes, for the record, I said it first…

The phone is a metaphorical burqa for teens.

Will phone peek

I know he’s just trying to grow up.

But I do love seeing his face and talking about his day.

Even in 5 minute bursts.

Enjoy the mozzarella sticks, buddy.

Still growing...

Jennifer Ebeling
Jennifer Ebeling is a proud Minnesotan and U of MN alumni. Gooooooo Gophers! Each week, Jennifer produces and hosts Still Growing - a gardening podcast dedicated to helping you and your garden grow. The show is an in-depth interview format. Guests featured on the show share a passion for gardening and include authors, bloggers, professional gardeners, etc. Listeners and guests of the show can join the Still Growing community on Facebook. It's a place to ask questions, share garden stories, interact with great guests featured on the show, and continue to grow and learn. Jennifer and her husband Philip have four children, a big golden lab named Sonny, and live in lovely Maple Grove, Minnesota. P.S. When she's not teaching her four kids a new card game - or teaching them how to drive a car - Jennifer loves inspiring individuals and groups to maximize and personalize their home & garden.
Jennifer Ebeling
Join the Still Growing Listener Community on Facebook! Click here


  1. Ruth Packard on May 7, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Oh, I soooo understand this scenario! Start saving more money, Jennifer! You’ll probably be using the money bribe for the two fine looking young men who now sit across the aisle!!

    The one time our son ever forgot his burqa, I pulled a switch. We sat down at the table and I pulled out my phone. I pretended to be wildly texting. I responded to his questions in one word answers or better yet…in one syllable sounds. After a while I heard laughter. He said, “Mama…I got the message!” He did, too! It is now a rare thing for our young man to pull out his phone!

  2. Cindy Mihalko on May 9, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    Just think…you’ll have it all figured out for the next two! 🙂

    We didn’t go through that, probably because our daughter is older and that’s all she had was a Virgin Mobile pay-as-you-go phone…talk and text, no data.

    I would like to mention that I have seen adults do the same thing. A glance is one thing, but to stare at their phone and have it front of their face is pretty disrespectful.

    • 6ftmama on May 24, 2013 at 12:55 pm

      Hi Cindy. Yes, there’s a whole new world of etiquette out there. I’ve actually been collecting some of the older etiquette books – they are really neat.

  3. Liz Tuckwell on May 10, 2013 at 10:24 am

    I LOVE this post! You are a super wonderful mama. I love that you don’t take any of this too seriously – you have a great message here!
    Thanks Mama!

    • 6ftmama on May 24, 2013 at 12:49 pm

      Thank you, Liz. I think it helps being so tall – the air is thinner up here – and I’m sure I miss some of the important details. But, overall it helps with the dreaming and keeping an open mind. 🙂

  4. Michele Bergh on May 16, 2013 at 10:27 am

    Sweet time with your son and the two across the way in a separate booth 🙂 Great conversation ideas. Going for a drive always worked to get my kids to open up. Seems to relax them. My youngest used to actually ask to go for a drive and I would know she needed to talk.

    • 6ftmama on May 24, 2013 at 12:43 pm

      Hi Michele – Yes they all have their little ways of letting us know when they need us. Sometimes I feel like there’s not enough Mom to go around!

Leave a Comment