Ben & Caleb Hatmaker Show us Around High School & Gen Z’s World - Jen Hatmaker

Ben & Caleb Hatmaker Show us Around High School & Gen Z’s World

Episode 02

Hit up your locker and meet us in home room because today we’re going back to high school with Jen’s very own two high schoolers, Caleb and Ben Hatmaker. High school is a formative experience for all, and Ben and Caleb’s journey will likely resonate with each of us: making great friends, getting buried under homework, trying to make our parents proud. But it’s eye-opening to learn about what Gen Z is dealing with that we didn’t have to: paralyzing academic pressure, a laser-focused emphasis on getting a four-year degree, having instant connection to information and peers 24/7—it’s a lot. Ben and Caleb reveal what they like about being in Gen Z, and they give us the 411 (*ahem* perhaps under duress) about all the stuff the cool kids are saying (Cap? Dap?) that we immediately plan to use everywhere and make uncool—and they drop a bomb by telling us Agatha Christie has made a comeback. And Jen lays down some old-school wisdom by teaching the boys what a “busy signal” is.

Episode Transcript

Narrator:  Hi everybody, my name is Remy. Welcome to the For the Love Podcast, with your host Jen Hatmaker, my mom. She writes books and speaks to crowds. But she mostly loves talking to amazing people every week on this podcast. Thanks for listening! We hope you enjoy the show.

Jen:  Hey, guys, Jen Hatmaker here. Welcome to the For the Love Podcast. I just couldn’t be happier that you are here. And honestly, you’re going to be glad too today.

So you probably know that we are in a series called For the Love of Back to School, which we’ve been so excited to do this one, you guys. Your response to it has been super over the top. Last week, we had college edition with Gavin and Sydney, my two oldest kids. And today, it’s Back to School: High School Edition with my sons, Caleb and Ben, and they are so cute on this thing. You guys are going to love this whole conversation. These guys, man, they’re just a mess. I love them so much. It’s funny. You’ll listen to this and hear us kind of start with the questions and they kind of ease in. And by the end, it’s like just puppies jumping on top of each other.

And so, they had a lot to say too. A lot of really interesting things to say about what’s going on behind the scenes at high school, what they and their peers struggle with that us parents don’t know, where they feel the greatest pressure points in high school and how much they wish we could just ease up a little bit. What they’re into. What they’re saying. I learned some new words today. And so, you better believe I’m going to try them out ASAP.

This was great and informative and useful. If you have a high schooler, if you have a student going into high school, middle schooler, you’re going to want to listen to this with your kids. And this is great for educators too and teachers just to hear a kid’s perspective kind of from a different angle.

And so these guys, man, they bring so much life and joy to this family, you’ll see. You’ll just see why. They’re so great together. And they’re such good brothers. And they make me crazy, and they make me laugh, and they make me happy. And I’m just telling you, you’re going to love hearing from them today. So super pleased to share my conversation with my personal high schoolers, Caleb and Ben Hatmaker.

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Jen: Okay, I’m really happy to welcome two jack wagons to the podcast who I am very, very fond of. This is the For the Love of Back to School Series: High School Edition. And please give a warm welcome to my personal high school children, Caleb and Ben, hello.

Caleb: Hi.

Ben: Hey, how you all doing?

Jen: First of all, thank you for doing this podcast. This is a big ask. And it’s kind of a lot and you both said yes and I’m grateful. Thank you for saying yes.

Caleb: Absolutely.

Ben: Yeah.

Caleb: A little nerve wracking.

Jen: It’s a little nerve wracking, that’s fair. It’s okay to be nervous and it’s kind of like I told you guys just a minute ago. It’s just be your absolute normal selves and that’s perfect and that’s what people are interested in hearing about and learning from and just exactly who you is exactly who you should be on this show.

So obviously my listeners have heard me talk about you two a million times. But I would just love really quickly before we kind of get into it if you each of you would introduce yourself. Tell everybody a little bit about who you are in your own words. Tell us about what grade you’re in, what sports you play, if any, what you’re into, what your activities are, etc. Caleb, you want to start?

Caleb: Yeah. I’m a senior. I run track at Dripping Springs High School. I mean I like working on cars. I like motorcycles, cars, everything like that.

Jen: Yeah, and he’s a hurdler. Did you say that? You said track?

Caleb: Yeah, I said track. Yeah, I’m a hurdler. I run one, 10, and 300 hurdles. Have since seventh grade.

Jen: Yep. And all the time when I’m in the car with Caleb, we’ll be having a conversation about something and then all of a sudden he’ll be like, “Whoa, Mom. It’s like a… I don’t know what to say.” You point out a car with a name I don’t know.

Ben: 2000 BTB car.

Caleb: You all didn’t have to out me like that.

Jen: You do it. And you’re like, “That has like an eight cylinder and you give me some talking points.” And I’m like, “That’s nice.”

Okay, Ben, and how about you?

Ben: My name is Ben.

I play sports. I play football and soccer. And I love hanging out with friends and yeah. I’m a very social person.

Jen: Yes, yes, yes. Your friends are always hanging around. Well, frankly, both of your friends are. I feel like sometimes our house is just like . . . It’s like a mini high school.

So let’s talk about high school a little bit.

Gavin and Sydney and I talked last week about college and how that was in some ways and in other ways not meeting their expectations and what their experiences have been like. And I kind of want to do this same conversation, but I want to talk about high school with you guys. Senior and sophomore.

So Caleb, you’ve got three years plus under your belt. And Ben, you’re starting your second year, so you’ve got some stuff to say. So let’s just start kind of . . . We just did start school here just a minute ago. So what thus far do you like most about being back in school and what if anything is different about this year compared to last year. Caleb, do you want to go first?

Caleb: Yeah, sure. Well, my favorite thing personally about being back in school is just being around the people. Being . . . I mean, every single day seeing a lot of friends, seeing . . . Just being able to be around people for so long and socialize for so long. It’s nice. It gives you kind of an area to do that to where you don’t have to reach out to people.

Jen: That’s true.

Caleb: And what’s different about . . . Well, I go to a different high school this year. So I mean, I knew two people there. Yeah. It was like my first day freshman year again.

Jen: Totally. We’re going to talk a little bit more about that in a few minutes if you don’t mind. But I mean, absolute overhaul for you.

So for both you and Sydney this year, you had a complete school change. And this is no big . . . This is no small deal for you. Because number one, you’re a senior. And number two, you’ve been in the Hays School District since you were in Kinder. So that was a long time to just kind of stay the course in one place to change kind of at the absolute 11th hour. And that was a whole deal. And we’re going to talk about that in a few minutes, but yeah. You’re . . . What’s different this year? Everything. That’s your answer.

Caleb: Yeah.

Jen: How about you, Ben?

Ben: I’d have to agree with Caleb. It’s just being around the friends, but also like if you don’t have something to do over the summer, it gets boring real quick. Like, I’d rather go to school than just keep doing nothing all day long. So going to school, honestly, just brings me closer to my friends and it’s really fun.

Something different? Sophomore year is . . . Sophomore year sucks.

Jen: Really, why do you say that? Because it’s harder?

Ben: Yeah, it’s just so much work.

Jen: Yeah.

Caleb: Just wait till junior year.

Jen: Yeah, you’re in AP classes this year. You kind of . . . You leveled up a little bit as a sophomore, didn’t you.

Ben: Yeah, the workload increased a lot.

Jen: Yeah. I . . . Wouldn’t you say that too, Caleb? I felt like sophomore and junior year are just . . . It’s just a heavy workload.

Caleb: It’s just . . . I mean the step up from freshman to sophomore year is huge. But the step up from sophomore to junior year is . . . Oh man, you got to prepare yourself for that.

Jen: Mm-hmm.

Ben: Wow, that makes me excited.

Jen: Right. I think they’re kind of babying you a little bit when you come in as freshman. You were just little middle schoolers. And now you’re high schoolers. And I mean, the freshman classes are kind of in their own portion of the campus, right?

Ben: Yeah.

Caleb: They keep their classes closer together. They just . . . I mean they’re trying to ease them into it.

Jen: Yeah. It’s good to remember that because as parents, we’ve learned that as you move into your sophomore year, we really have to help you adjust your time management because you’re kind of used to . . . You don’t get to coast as a freshman, but kind of. And then sophomore year is like game on. And you’ve got to use your time differently. Both of you guys had to adjust, right?

Ben: Oh definitely. I mean it’s like getting slapped across the face. Like there was so much work.

Jen: Okay. So you guys have some high school under your belt. Let me ask you this question. Is this going faster than you thought it would? Like is high school going fast for you or is it slow? And you’re just counting down the days until you graduate and move on?

Caleb: It’s weird. It kind of feels like both at the same time.

Jen: I know what you mean.

Caleb: Like when I’m thinking about in the moment it feels like it’s going just tremendously slow. It feels like it’s just dragging on. But if I think about I mean the past three years of high school, it just feels like a flash. Like it feels . . . I mean it’s crazy. I mean I still feel like a freshman a little bit.

Jen: Yeah. What do you think, Ben? And then I’m going to give you my thought on that?

Ben: Let’s see. I think freshman year went by so fast. Because not only . . . Like, honestly freshman year was kind of easy. It was definitely like harder than middle school, but it was kind of easy. You could definitely coast through it and it flew by.

Sophomore year, first day of school, oh my God, it would not end. I mean, I felt like I was there for a whole year. Like it just, ugh.

Jen: But how about now that we’re three weeks in? Is it picking up the pace a little bit? Well, you know what? You’ve had a really weird first beginning of the year, haven’t you?

Ben: Well, yeah. I broke my wrist during my first game.

Jen: Yeah. That was such a bummer.

Ben: That sucks.

Jen: Okay. Ben broke his wrist in his very first football game, and so has thus ended up missing most of this week of school because just everything. Nothing can be easy in our family. That just is . . . Why would anything be easy? We had to keep trying to reset his arm and it wouldn’t get reset. And so we are recording this podcast just in the nick of time because he has surgery tomorrow morning.

Ben: Yep.

Jen: And so, yeah. Who knows how fast your year is going? It’s too weird. You’re just in the doctor’s office right now. Really, really. It’s hard to miss school at this age, isn’t it?

Ben: Oh my gosh. You don’t even know.

Jen: Like yeah. When you guys were in elementary, you’re like, “Ooh yay, missed days! Like, who cares?” In high school, you guys will grab a shovel and try to dig out, and it is hard.

Ben: Like I’m scared to miss school days. Because I know when I go back, there’s going to be a lot that I’ve missed.

Caleb: Yeah, I’ve been showing up to school sick because I just . . . You can’t really afford to miss school as an upper classman, especially. It’s just you get behind on work and it just topples.

Ben: Piles.

Jen: Totally. Well, it’s funny as a parent because . . . And this is just my opinion. I think everybody feels differently kind of, depending on what kind of parent they are. But for me, when you guys were little, the days were long. Elementary school specifically, I thought would will never end. Just never. I thought we were all going to just die in elementary school and be buried in it. It just was so long. And that was maybe because there was so much parent work in elementary school. But then, middle school miraculously went pretty fast, even though it was some trash. And then high school just, for me, high school just evaporates right through my fingers. Like I can’t believe you’re a senior, Caleb. It just doesn’t feel even possible that you’re at the end of the road here.

Caleb: Yeah, it feels weird for me too.

Jen: So let me ask you this. I want to hear what both of you are most excited about right now that’s happening kind of in your age group, in high school, sort of your generation? And this could be inside the classroom or outside of it. It might just be like this is something that I really like or appreciate or feel excitement about. Kind of my peers, my age group, my generation. Something maybe is blowing your mind. Or, I’m really into this. Or, This feels really hopeful to me. Really can just sort of be anything. But I’d just like to hear from your perspective, what you’re looking around going, This is a good thing, or, This is something to be proud of, or, This is something that’s going to be great for the future. Caleb?

Caleb: Okay, well, I’m going to sort of piggyback off of what Sydney said in last week’s podcast.

Jen: Okay.

Caleb: With the political awareness and the political . . . what’s the word I’m thinking of? The political?

Jen: Like, engagement?

Caleb: Engagement from our generation. I mean I don’t know a single person who says, “Oh, I don’t have an opinion on politics. Or I don’t look into that.” Or anything. Everybody. I mean everybody reads up. Everybody looks into it. Everybody has an opinion. Everybody. I mean everybody wants to vote. Everybody’s looking forward to it. I don’t think our generation’s going to have a problem with not voting.

Jen: Right.

Caleb: I don’t know. That’s just something I really like because it’s . . . I mean it affects us so heavily, especially with everything going on recently. Everything feels so drastic.

Jen: It does.

Caleb: Us voting for something now could very, very drastically change the future.

Jen: That’s right.

Caleb: And I’m just happy my generation isn’t just blowing it off.

Jen: Yeah me too. I feel really impressed by just the level of civic interest that your age group is showing. I mean, I said this last week, but I cannot even remember having a conversation like this with my high school peers. I don’t . . . I didn’t know what was going on. Now it was like a different time. We didn’t have the internet. And we didn’t have phones in our hands.

Caleb: Or electricity.

Jen: Electricity. You’re dumb. You’re so dumb. But we also didn’t have a 24/7 news cycle which is just something you’ve guys have grown up with. You can’t even . . . You can’t escape it. Where for us, in our generation, if we were going to paying attention, well that meant we had to watch the 10 o’clock news with our parents on three channels. That’s all we had. It just wasn’t . . . We just did not have access to news and information like you do, which was both good and bad. There’s an upside and a downside to that.

But regardless of the changing kind of landscape, it is exciting to watch your age group care. Because I think you make a great point, Caleb. You are the next round of voters. And I mean, you’ll be able to vote in the next election. And the people that you’re putting into office are going to have enormous impact on policies that affect you. And so, I love that you care. I think this is great for democracy. And great for our future, even though you and I hold some different ideas, don’t we?

Caleb: Slightly.

Ben: Oh, tell me about it.

Caleb: No, we are not.

Jen: That’s okay. I don’t need you to be my clone. One thing I appreciate about you, Caleb, is that when we have discussions around political ideology or policy or whatever, even though it can get heated sometimes between you and I, I like that you’re paying attention. And I like that you always come to the table having read something about it, having listened to something about it. Not just spouting out whatever you’re thinking in your head, but you’ve got an informed opinion. And to me, that’s great. I respect that. And even if sometimes we disagree on it, I respect the process.

Ben, I’d like to . . . Back to the original question. Something that you’re thinking, This is feels good right now. What would you say?

Ben: Okay. Mine isn’t going to be anything like voting.

Jen: That’s okay.

Ben: I’m not going to lie. That’s not what I’m thinking about right now.

Jen: That’s all right. I want you to answer how you want to answer.

Ben: Let’s think. Honestly, I like how I can communicate with my friends with an instant, and then we can just hang out.

Jen: Yeah, I actually know what you mean. Only because we had such a different experience growing up. Back in the day, children, our phones were attached to the wall. And every household had one phone number. And everybody that lived in the house shared that number and that phone. And so, it wasn’t that easy to get in touch with our friends all the time. You guys don’t even know what this is. But we used to call our friends and get a “busy signal.” Do you even know what that is?

Caleb: No.

Ben: No.

Jen: Oh, for Pete’s sake. Okay well, back in the day, before things got fancy, if you called somebody’s home phone and somebody else was on it, you’d get beep, beep, beep, beep. Because it was busy. Somebody was on it.

Ben: So you would stay on hold?

Jen: No, there’s no hold. You just can’t get through. You just got to hang up and try again later. But if they’re dumb like big sister was on the phone for three hours, then you just couldn’t get through until she got off the phone. And so my point is, it wasn’t easy to have access to one another.

Caleb: Yeah, I see what you mean.

Jen: Like, we couldn’t do it like you do it.

Caleb: Like if they weren’t home, if they were out . . . I mean, now, I mean, no matter regardless of where you are, everybody carries their phones on you. I mean, you can just shoot them a text and they could respond whether they’re at school, eating, sleep, I mean in bed anywhere.

Jen: Yep exactly right.

It’s just you guys have direct contact with everybody now. And it’s, again, I think there’s an upside and a downside to this. But it does make it really seamless for you guys to be connected to your friends and to make plans to change plans. Everything’s just so easy. Everything was really, really hard back when we had to do it. Nothing was easy. And if things went sideways, well good luck trying to tell somebody else what to do.

But I actually think that’s a good example. I see a real positive to your generation being really tightly connected. Really good friends to each other. Really connected all the time. And that, to me, is an upside, for sure.

Jen:  Let’s flip it around. I’d like to hear right now. You’re in high school in Texas. Not all high schools are the same. But there’s a similar high school experience in America that I think you guys could speak into. What would you say is really challenging for you right now? Maybe it’s like at school, specifically. Maybe it’s just simply at this stage of life. But what would you say, This bit, this thing right now is kind of hard for me, or, I’m worried about it, or, I’m concerned about it, or, I find it hard to figure out my way through this. Caleb?

Caleb: Well, I kind of have two answers to this. My first one, especially as a senior, finding motivation to do homework, to do just little things in school. To put in . . . I don’t know, just kind of the extra step knowing, Well, I’m just going to be out of here in a few months anyways. And I don’t . . . I’ve kind of . . . I’ve struggled with my work ethic in school, slightly.

Jen: OMG.

Caleb: A little more than slightly.

Jen: Yeah.

Caleb: But hey, I was in AP classes and stuff.

Jen: Yes, you were.

Caleb: Especially as a senior, I mean it’s just tough to . . . I mean, have this strive to, Oh well, if I do this, I can get my GPA up to go to this college.

Jen: Yeah.

Caleb: Well, actually that kind of brings me to a second part of that answer. I’m not planning on going to college.

Jen: Right.

Caleb: I’m planning on enlisting in the military. That also makes it hard to stay super motivated to . . . I mean, turn in the best work because it’s really, It’s hard to not get in the mindset of, Oh well, I mean all I have to do is pass. It’s . . . I mean because as long as I pass, it doesn’t affect anything else in my life. And it’s hard to say . . . I mean it’s easy to say, Well, I mean, I can just give half effort and turn it in. 

Jen: It’s true. And I wonder if that is because for so long, especially in your generation—I think less so in mine, but I’m not positive if this is true—but all of high school is so closely, like intertwined with being simply college readiness. This is what you hear all the time. The message is, “This is for college. This is next. Do this for high school or you won’t get this for college. Do this in college or you’ll struggle in college,” or whatever. And there doesn’t seem to be as many open paths to say, “Work hard in high school because it’s good for you. Because you’ll learn a work ethic. Because you’ll increase your brain power. Because . . .” Not necessarily just because of college, because there’s frankly a ton of kids who are going to choose a different path besides a four-year college right now—as they should. There’s so many places to go, like with trade work, which is smart and lucrative and employable. Or military like you, Caleb.

And so, I think I’d like to see . . . I don’t know if a de-emphasis on college prep is the right path, but maybe just a widening of expectations and opportunities and possibilities for high school students that aren’t going to go to a four-year program at a university.
Like, how often do you hear, Caleb, your teachers talk about an alternative path to a four-year degree?
Caleb: Oh, never. I mean, the teachers’ expectations for us is to go on to a university or to go on to . . . I mean, anything. Like in every class, we’ve been asked, “Who’s planning on going to college? Who’s doing their college visits? Who’s written their essays? Taken their ACTs? SATs?” All that stuff. And I’m always, like, the only one who doesn’t raise my hand whenever they say, “Who’s going to college?” And everybody kind of looks at me. “Oh you’re not going to college?” It’s almost like a frowned upon thing in our generation because [we] go into high school saying, “This is for college. Like, that’s the reason you’re here.” Sometimes I almost feel embarrassed to say I’m going in the military because I’m the only one in my family not planning on going to college. I don’t know. It just feels like a frowned-upon thing.
Jen: Yeah, well I think it’s definitely the minority. And even if it’s not really in practice because interestingly, the numbers tell us that a lot of students are choosing different paths out of high school, which is actually smart because college degrees are less or they’re under valued now because so many people have them. So kids are graduating with an enormous amount of college debt, and they can’t get a job, whereas the military is kind of a guaranteed career path if you stick with it, as are tons of trades and craftsmanship type jobs. And so, I’d like to hear more people talk about those paths that have honor also, and that are good and strong and noble paths forward. And so, yeah, I’m with you on that. And I can see how that would be a challenge.
By the way, when we were seniors and struggled with motivation—which is not new. This is not new to your generation—we called it the “screw-its.” So there. You can have that-
Caleb: Screw its. We call “senioritis.”
Jen: Well, we called it that also, but it was a little more fun to call it the “screw-its”.
Caleb: Oh whatever.
Jen: So anyway. You can just get in line because all seniors have felt that way.
Caleb: Yeah, my second one would be high school drama, especially moving schools. At my old school, rumors flying around like crazy because I’m not there to defend myself against them. And, of course, people love drama. People love, “Oh, well I heard this and I heard this and well this is what happened.” And they just love to spread it. Love to talk about it. And I mean, it’s going crazy. I’ve hears some bizarre rumors about myself. It’s just, I don’t know.
Jen: Yeah, that’s also kind of unfortunate downside of your age group which is some of that drama. Ben, we’re going to get to you in one second. But this is a pretty decent time for you to maybe talk about a little bit, if you’re comfortable with it, which is your decision to change schools. And this is a decision we made together of course. Did you want to talk about that a little bit? Because sure enough, as you’re saying, in the absence of any explanation, your peers will just make something up. They’ll just make something up and talk about it like it’s a fact.
Caleb: Yeah. Well, I mean, at the end of last year, I went through a rough patch, a real rough patch. I mean, my peers around me saw it too. I was really not myself. And I had to get pulled out of school early, even. I had to take my finals in the summer. A whole bunch of stuff and of course, that’s going to start even more rumors.
Jen: And let me just say this real quick as your mom, it wasn’t from misbehaving. Like, again, people just make something up. And it wasn’t that. It was some emotional heavy lifting, honestly.
But together, you and Dad and I, we sat down and just . . . We really though through what’s a path forward for you where you have the best chance like at health and happiness and a wholeness. And just kind of together decided, like, even . . . Even this late in the game as a senior that having a fresh start would be the right choice, right?
Caleb: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
Jen: Yeah. And it feels like it has been.
Caleb: I mean and honestly, every time I tell people about it they’re like, “Wow, you changed schools as a senior. I mean that’s so crazy.” But I really don’t see it as that much different. I mean I still have nine months in this school left.
Jen: It didn’t feel that radical to you in practice?
Caleb: It’s not that . . . It didn’t feel that radical.
Jen: You’re a pretty flexible kid.
Caleb: Yeah.
Jen: You are. You’re pretty flexible. You’re pretty adaptable.
Caleb: Yeah, I go with the flow a little bit.
Jen: You do. But it was a big decision. And I . . . It was ultimately your decision and I think you made a good one. And just again, as I’m thinking about people that are listening to us have this conversation, I think the way dad and I have always thought about parenting you guys. We have five of you so that’s a lot. At any given moment, a handful of things in our world are standard Hatmaker family protocol. Like, these are just sort of the guardrails that all of you have. These are the rules that apply to everybody. These are some of the ways that we parent all of you. But in other ways, we’ve always sort of thought, We’ve got to parent each kid each year. So sometimes that means there’s no change year to year.
But like, for example, this year, two of you needed a big change. You changed high schools and Sydney changed colleges. And that was the right choice for both of you. And I think there’s just this degree of sort of flexibility that’s important to have when you guys are adolescents and young adults, to be able to say, “Maybe this was right last year and maybe it’s not right this year.” Go ahead.
Caleb: Getting into the mindset of just being stuck in stone where you are, being hardheaded, I’ve tried my best to avoid that. If something a possibility at helping, I want to try it. I’m not going to not try anything because I mean what if it would have helped? I don’t want to risk the chance of . . . I mean this could have been perfect for me. But I decided well but what if it wasn’t? So I decided just not to do it. I mean-
Jen: Well, I was really proud of you for making that decision, even though it was kind of . . . Well, in some ways, extreme.
Caleb: I mean, it was really weird going from a school where . . . I mean walking through the hallways, every single person who walked past me, I knew their names. I knew their faces. To going to a school where I don’t know anyone.
Jen: No doubt.
Caleb: It was, yeah. That was a hard decision for me to make.
Jen: Yeah. Ben, how about you? Back to the original question. What, for you, right now feels challenging?
Ben: Honestly, it’s thinking about college. Like, I am a little bit scared because I used to think that high school is where I chose what I’m going to be for the rest of my life. And the reason for that is because like I get a lot of it. Just like, oh you got to do this in order to make it to college. You got to do this. You got to do that. And honestly, it’s overwhelming. And so then I started to think about. So if I don’t make the right decision here, I’m screwed up for the rest of my life. I mean how am I going to recover from that? So I’m always worrying about my grades, like constantly. I’m always worrying about my GPA, my class rank. It’s a lot.

And then someone telling me me that “High school is for you to have fun with and just grow up. College is where you start to become an adult and you start to choose things.” And stuff like that. And that helped like ease my mind a little bit. But I’m still like . . . I’ve been really scared for college.

Jen: Well, I’m not surprised to hear you say that. Because again, back to our earlier point, I think there’s so much pressure put on high school students to essentially chart their path all the way till they’re 35 years old. And you’re supposed to know what you’re good at and what you love. And it is a really overwhelming thing. Do you guys know how little pressure was put on me when I was in high school. You will not believe this. But I found out what my . . . As a senior, I found out what my class rank was for the very first time in my high school career the day before graduation. That’s how I knew.

Ben: What?

Jen: Yeah. Because they were like, “Oh you’re in the top 10 students in your graduating class, so here’s a special band you’re going to wear around your neck.” And I’m like, “Oh, am I?” I had no idea.

Caleb: We found out like two months into freshman year.

Ben: No way, sophomore year.

Caleb: Or was it sophomore year?

Ben: It’s sophomore year, yeah. They won’t let you know freshman year.

Caleb: Yeah, it is, that’s right.

Jen: Right. That has changed. I watch . . . Well, not you so much Caleb, let’s just be super honest. But I watch Ben constantly check his grades online, on your portal. And I know. I know that you feel pressure, and I wish that we could figure out how to alleviate that on your generation, because the truth is, it all just kind of works out. And you don’t have to know everything. I mean, you can look at your sister for an example. She changed her mind a year into it—it’s okay. Most kids change their major. You just don’t have to know.

Caleb: Yeah. Something I’m happy about with me personally is I’ve never been one to over stress myself about something. I’m pretty laid back.

Jen: Yes, you are.

Caleb: Which can be, of course, a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good because I don’t . . . I’m not . . . I mean, I know people who have panic attacks when they think about college. I know people who can’t even have a conversation about it.

Jen: Right.

Caleb: Just people who devote their entire life. They ruin their social life and their sleep and all this stuff. Just making sure, “Oh, if I need to stay up until four in the morning doing this paper, or else my grade’ll go down and my GPA will go down and I’ll have to go for tutorials and stress out even more.” And it’s just overwhelming to think about. And I mean, I’m just not one to do that.

Jen: No, you’re not.

Ben: I know some girls that are in my class that will start crying if they make less than a 90. Like, I stress about my grades sometimes, but the other kids around me, it’s constant. They even tell me like their parents also put a lot of pressure on them. And it’s not just them. And that’s just one thing that does not obviously help.

Jen: It doesn’t.

Caleb: I mean, pressure from parents is another thing too.

Jen: Like what?

Caleb: I mean not you, personally.

Jen: That’s okay if it’s us personally.

Caleb: But I mean like pressure to succeed, not even . . . not even from the parents, but through my own thought process thinking about the parents. I mean, you don’t want to disappoint your parents, obviously. You . . . That’s another thing with the expectations set by society for a four-year college. That’s something with me that I’ve struggled with a little bit is, Well, what happens down the road? What happens whenever all I have is a high school diploma? Yeah, I’m . . . Yeah. It’s just something that’s a lot to think about.

Jen: Yeah, it is.

Caleb: Especially for a 17-year-old.

Jen: Yeah, it is, you’re right. It’s a lot . . . It’s pretty weighty and I sense the pressure on your generation just not getting any better, but actually getting worse. And a lot of it..  It might . . . You might be glad to know that a bunch of adults right now are having this conversation, like, “This train is out of control. Our young adults are over stressed, and they’re full of anxiety, and they’re falling apart of the seams when they’re supposed to just be going to like football games. They’re just 15.”

Caleb: I mean, I know—

Jen: Yeah. This conversation’s on the table right now and I think educators, including high school and college educators, are discussing right now, “Gosh, how could we re-imagine what this experience is like for students?”

Caleb: Yeah, the education system needs a lot of reform. Putting this in mind rather than putting the students as pushing them to the best selves, but also taking into consideration their mental health. I mean, like you said, anxiety, that’s just a huge thing in my generation. It’s almost just commonly accepted.

 It’s just like . . . It’s like . . . It’s not even something you’re like, “Oh wow, anxiety.” Like it’s just, “Oh, you too? Okay.”

Ben: That’s . . . Not even . . . Not just anxiety. Also depression. I know a lot of my friends have depression. It’s kind of sad. It’s . . . it’s really bad.

Jen: Yeah, you carry a lot. Your generation is being asked to carry some burdens that the previous generations didn’t have to carry. And it’s no wonder. And this is not even to mention just the added factor of technology, which, you are internet children. I mean you nothing else. This is the way you were raised and born, and it’s all you know. And so again, there’s definitely an upside. But there is a downside to being 24/7 on your phones, on social media. This sense of, I mean, over the top now comparison with your peers. And, of course, it’s only really what your peers are posting on Instagram. It’s not even necessarily true. And so, that added burden is a big one.

And us, as your parents, we don’t . . . We’re the first generation to parent it, so we don’t know what to do. And we’re not sure what those guard rails are, what the boundaries are. And so, I have a feeling that your generation will grow up into adults and handle this better than we did because we’re new to it.

Ben: Well, one thing most parents should know is your kid is most likely putting up a front. Because I know a lot of people who will fake it till they make it. Like, they all have . . . They all try to be happiest or they all pretend. Recently, I found out one of my friends last year was depressed and I didn’t even know because they were just so good at faking it. Their parents didn’t know. Like, it’s a real bad thing. It is. But our kids . . . My generation has gotten really good at just acting completely normal, pretending everything is fine when in reality, they know that it’s not.

Caleb: Something I’ve seen is everybody has different versions of themselves. They have themselves around their parents. Themselves at school. Themselves alone. And not just like how they act or whatever, but I mean, like yeah, pretending to be happy. Pretending they’re not completely stressed out. Pretending things don’t hurt them when they do. Just . . . I feel like putting up a front is something that nobody should have to do but it feels like it’s something everybody does.

Jen: Yep, I agree. I agree. And it’s just you’re just more visible because your peers expect you to be on SnapChat and on Insta all the time, so you don’t even get the luxury of privacy. Where, back in the day, if we’d have been struggling a little bit more emotionally, we could just go home and shut the door and nobody has to have like immediate access to how we’re doing 24 hours a day. But you have . . . Everybody has such accessibility that it’s hard for you to be vulnerable because everyone’s always looking at you. And you’re always expected to be reporting on your life, on your snaps or whatever the heck.

Ben: But like I understand. That’s like one bad thing about that. But also a good thing about that is whenever I broke my wrist, it was within an instant, I had so many people just text me asking about how I was doing, that they were telling me that they were praying for me that everything was going to be fine. I’ll make it through this. Like, you’ll have a lot of support. But and the other thing, you don’t also have like a lot of privacy.

Jen: Yeah, that’s true.

Ben: Yeah, the connectedness of this generation . . . the support from peers can be, I mean, just any time you need it really quickly. It’s nice to have if you need it.

Jen: That’s good. I like that. I see that too. I find actually a lot of empathy in your age group. When I look at the way that you talk to each other and the way that you support each other, I find a lot of hope in the way that your generation is behaving toward one another. And I think just media and technology has a lot to do with that. That it’s so easy for you to just throw out an encouragement to somebody really fast. Or throw out an awesome text. Or just . . . That is just so . . . It’s so convenient now and that you’re doing that well.

Let me ask you this and you can answer this question. You have permission to answer it. When it comes to the high school world, what would you say is going on right now that parents don’t know about? That maybe they should. Or maybe that’s something that parents could be paying attention for or watching for? Something that just maybe give us the tea. Spill the tea. Give us the tea. Spill the tea.

Caleb: Oh, no, Mom.

Ben: So right now, you’re asking me to kind of snitch, you know what I’m saying?

Caleb: Yeah, trying not to out myself.

Jen: Out myself.

Caleb: Well, actually, going back on what we said earlier. I mean, depression and anxiety. It’s just so common. I mean of course, there’s statistics you’ll read online. But then again, that’s just statistics. Not everybody’s going to be truthful. Not everybody . . . They’re not going to reach out to everybody. I mean, I’d say the majority of people I know have either depression or anxiety or bipolar disorder, or just something that’s just going on because of school, because of peers, because of bullying, rumors, drama, just college stress, parents, anything. It’s just . . . That’s something that I’ve noticed is really big and that kids my age really don’t like talking to their parents a lot about . . . Because parents are sort of seen as like an authority figure, rather than someone you could really go to. I mean, I know that’s something parents really try hard to do is to be someone who’s there for you rather than somebody’s who’s going to punish you.

If something were to happen, you don’t want to be the one who where they go, “Well, should I call them or would that get me in trouble?” It’s . . . That kind of mindset gets them thinking, “Well, I’m just . . . That’s how I am. I’ll just deal with this myself.” And I think a lot of parents are unaware of the situations their kids are going through and the struggles their kids are going through because they just . . . they feel like they can’t go to them because of that, because of the authority figure role that these parents have to play.

Jen: Yeah. What do you think, Ben?

Ben: I’m going to go quickly back to the bullying thing. Like for some reason, I feel like people think, “Bullying doesn’t really happen anymore. I’m going to stand up for . . .” stuff like that. But the thing is whenever you, for some reason, have like the entire school or like just one group of friends turn on you, it makes your life, especially in high school, a living hell. Like it’s so bad.

One of my friends last year, she suffered so much mentally. She would cry almost every single night because she was just . . . She would get bullied. Like, it was ridiculous. And it wasn’t over like something really big. It was just because like specifically thought, “Oh, why not? Let’s just make fun of her. Let’s just do something like that.” And that honestly happens quite a lot.

Jen: Yeah. This is one thing that, of course we’ve talked to you guys about a million times like, “Oh, be so on the look out for those kids who are all alone. Who are mocked or teased. Who are left out.” Like it is the worst, the absolute worst. And those kids are probably pretending that it doesn’t bother them. Maybe even at home. But oh, the loneliness of that is just the hardest thing. And we’ve always hoped that you guys would keep a keen eye for kids on the margins like that because I’m telling you . . . I mean, I’m 45 years old, and I’m still talking about seasons of my middle school and high school life where that . . . Where I was the outsider. It’s just painful and it lasts forever. You never forget it.

And so, I think that’s a good thing for both you guys as students to be attention to, but also us as parents, to be watching for our own kids who may be coming home bullied. Or lonely. And too embarrassed or ashamed to talk about it.

Ben: Yes, definitely. It’s . . . I’m glad that y’all taught me this because I mean, I checked on her almost every single night just to see how she was doing. And this year, she’s doing a whole lot better. Like it’s . . . Oh, she’s doing great now. It’s amazing.

Jen: Great.

Let me ask you a specific question, Ben. I’m curious . . . You and I talk about this of course, but if you could talk a little bit about what is your specific experience like? Because we’re just kind of talking about what it means to be sort of on the edge of a community or different in some way that sometimes is hard. What is it like for you to be adopted? So number one, you’re adopted. Number two, you’re Ethiopian. Number three, you’re adopted into a white family. And then number four, you go to high school that is . . . It’s about . . . It’s a little bit more than 50% minority, but most of that, most of your minority peers are Hispanic. And so you find yourself at an intersection of several communities. Like, white family, black kid, but also international black kid because you’re Ethiopian.

So I’m curious if you could talk a little bit about that experience for you and what has been maybe good in it and what has been hard in it?

Ben: Let’s see. Okay, so one thing is number one. I am very open about my adoption. Almost every single person at that schools knows that I’m adopted. And whenever they do, they always ask me questions and I’m always 100% honest with them. They ask me how my home life back in Ethiopia was, and I’m always telling them. They ask me what it’s like to live with white people, and I always tell them. Like the most hate I’ve ever gotten is probably getting called “whitewashed.” I mean, that’s about it.

Jen: Yes.

Ben: But so—

Jen: Are people being mean to you when they say that? Or are they joking?

Ben: No, Mom. No.

Jen: They’re joking?

Caleb: Our own family calls him whitewashed.

Jen: I don’t know. And that’s—

Caleb: Ben’s one of the whitest people I know.

Jen: That’s because you have a white family or is it because you wear shorty shorts?

Ben: It might have to do with both.

Jen: Both, right.

Caleb: We all wear booty shorts, Mom.

Ben: So there are times when I have to, like, whenever I side with someone other than, let’s say, my black friends. And they’re like, “Whatever it doesn’t matter. He’s just whitewashed.” And sometimes it like affects me because it low key does hurt. I’m like, why do you have to say that? I’m just trying to help someone else out. And there’s no need for that. But then there are other times. Most of the time, I also have the greatest friends and I’ve never truly experienced bullying but I’ve gotten hate before.

Like I’m pretty sure everybody has, but it’s never held me down. I’ve always just gotten right back up from it. I’m a pretty positive person so I don’t really like to spread that kind of stuff, but it’s hard. And like, it’s hard but it’s also at the same time, I’m proud because everybody knows who I am, and I’m not really trying to hide it. I’m not ashamed of it. It’s just something I’m proud of.

Jen: Yeah. You’ve always carried yourself like that. And I think, for a lot of people, adoption is so mysterious. It’s like, “What in the world was that like?” and was it . . . So I think the fact that you have always . . . I mean really since you were in second grade, you’ve just always been really, really open about your story, and your mom, and going back to Ethiopia with us. And that, to me, invites people into your story instead of scares them away, and so it draws people to you, actually. And I think you’ve always done a really good job of navigating that very strange intersection of being a black kid in a white family in a Hispanic school in Texas. I mean, what the heck? It’s a lot.

Ben: Yeah. It’s a lot.

Jen: That’s a lot going on.

Jen:   Jen: Okay, so let me ask a nerdy adult question. What are the kids into right now? Like, what are the catch phrases that you guys say that I don’t understand? And how can we start using them to make them uncool immediately? And just kind of . . . So what are kids into? What are they saying? Like, what’s all the rage right now? What’s the stuff that everybody in your . . . All your peers are like doing or saying or talking about?

Ben: Okay. If I give you this one, most of my friends probably won’t like you.

Caleb: Please don’t say it.

Jen: What does that mean? Is it dirty?

Ben: Or won’t like me.

Jen: Don’t say it if it’s dirty.

Ben: No, it’s not dirty.

Caleb: No, it’s not dirty, it’s just so uncomfortable when parents say it.

Ben: It’s said, cap.

Jen: Cap? What does that mean?

Ben: So cappin’ . . . You say cap whenever you think someone is lying. Or it’s like substitution for the word lying.


Ben: Let’s you’re lying. Yeah. So whenever you’re lying, instead of saying, “Oh why are you lying?” I would say, “Why are you cappin’?” And not cap-ing. Cap-ing is real weird.

Caleb: You would just say. . .

Ben: Just say why are you cappin’? Just like that.

Caleb: Or you would just say cap.

Jen: What does that mean?

Caleb: If somebody’s like lying—

Ben: You would just say cap.

Caleb: Instead of like calling them out . . . Instead of being like, “Oh, you’re lying.” You just say “cap.”

Ben: Cap, that’s it.

Jen: Okay, but here’s my question. Why? Why are they using that word? Does it mean something about a cap?

Caleb: I don’t think it means anything to this generation, Mom.

Ben: I don’t know. Some kid started it somewhere, but it spread pretty quick and now if someone’s lying, just say, “Cap,” or, “Why you cappin’?” And that’s it.

Jen: Okay. I literally cannot wait to use this.

Caleb: Or no cap. Like if somebody’s like . . . Oh Mom. If somebody’s like if you’re saying something and someone’s like, “Is that true?” You’d be like, “No cap, swear. It’s true.”

Ben: No cap. Like, “I’m not lying.”

Jen: I see now. All right. I’m going to practice with this tomorrow.

Caleb: Okay, I got another one. Oh please don’t.

Jen: What about you, Caleb?

Ben: Why’d I do that?

Caleb: Dap up.

Jen: Cap up, okay.

Caleb: No, dap up.

Jen: What, nap up?

Caleb: Dap. D-A-P. Dap up.

Jen: Dap up?

Caleb: Like if you’re going to dap somebody, you walk up to somebody like, “Hey, dap me up.” And it’s like a handshake. Like, “What’s up?”

Jen: Dap me up. Is the handshake specific?

Ben: “Hey, team, I need you to dap me up.”

Jen: Hey, I didn’t understand him! It’s a clunky podcast, all right, you fools?

Okay. Dap me up. Does that also come with a type of handshake or that just means—

Caleb: I mean, just the standard bro shake.

Jen: The bro shake.

Ben: Yes. No, no. Do not . . . One thing I hate . . . Well, not I hate, but what kids do not do nowadays is with their friends is walk up and give them a firm handshake. Like, that does not happen. That’s tough.

Jen: It’s very old-fashioned, right?

Ben: If you do that-

Caleb: Actually, the country kids—

Ben: Right, you get kind of like looked at very weirdly. I’m like, “No, bro, dap me up. Do not shake my hand, you weirdo.”

Caleb: “You weirdo, don’t shake my hand.” You’re actually going to do that in an interview one day.

Jen: You guys are so weird.

Caleb: I mean . . . My bad.

Jen: Is that it? That’s all the stuff. Dap me up. And cap.

Caleb: Yeah. Cap. Yeah, that’s all you get.

Jen: All right. Check.

All right. Here we go. Deep into the mind of the high schooler. And you just kind of of the top of your head. Like we’ll start with you Caleb and go to Ben. What shows are you watching right now?

Caleb: Shows?

Jen: Like wherever. YouTube, Netflix, I don’t know where you watch your shows.

Caleb: Something me and Ben watch, well, “watched.” We watched 10 seasons of it. Adventure Time.

Jen: OMG.

Caleb: Listen, do not make fun of it.

Ben: Oh my gosh.

Caleb: It is a childish show. And it was my childhood. It is . . . It’s good. It’s got good humor. It’s got character development.

Ben: The story plot. The story plot is so crazy!

Caleb: The plot. The plot is like . . . It’s like a book. It’s actually . . . It’s really well developed.

Jen: Okay.

Ben: Amazing!

Jen: All right.

Caleb: Don’t make fun of me.

Jen: All right.

Okay, what about this? Who is on your Spotify playlist right now? Just two or three or four.

Ben: I got you. Let me tell you. It’s not Christian rap. Let’s just say that.

Jen: Christian rap?

Ben: It’s not Christian rap.

Jen: Okay, what is it?

Ben: It’s a bunch of rap music.

Jen: Oh yeah. You know how I feel about your music.

Ben: Well, anytime I play it, you make me turn it off.

Jen: I do not like—

Caleb: Okay. I’m going to say something that might surprise you: Texas bluegrass.

Jen: Oh I know. You played me some of that yesterday. I liked it.

Caleb: Like Guy Clark. Kind of like the older . . . Not older, like the newer Johnny Cash, when he was [doing things] like “Hurt.

Jen: Kind of like Texas country. Like old-fashioned?

Caleb: Yeah. Like a bunch of old dudes and their old guitars and whatever. Whiskey Myers. Stuff like that. I really like that.

Jen: Yeah, you played me your playlist yesterday. I liked it.

Caleb: And like David Ramirez, singer/songwriter dude. Noah Gunderson. Stuff like that. I really liked the lyrics and the meaning and stuff.

Jen: Okay, that’s good.

Ben: My second playlist would be country music.

Caleb: Yep.

Jen: Yes, which is a weird swing. That’s a weird flex, bro.

Caleb: Everybody secretly has a country playlist.

Ben: Oh yeah, everybody does.

Caleb: “Mirror Mirror,” that’s my jam.

Ben: Mine would be like with Zac Brown Band.

JenKenny Chesney.

Caleb: Kenny Chesney.

Ben: “American Kids” is one of the best songs I’ve ever listened to.

Caleb: Ben will play that anytime—

Ben: And I’m not even an American kid. It is one of the greatest songs ever.

Jen: You’ve literally played that song 40 million times in this house.

Ben: Oh it’s fire.

Caleb: But like “Good Directions,” “Keep the Wolves Away,” “Neon Moon,” “Broken Window Serenade,” “Ballad of a Southern Man,” “Why Don’t We Just Dance.” So good.

Ben: What is he even talking about? I listen to Zac Brown Band and Brad Paisley, stuff like that.

Jen: Yeah, you do. It’s funny. You’ve got your like rap that I hate, and then this like hard core country playlist. Okay, I think only one of you is going to have an answer to this. But besides textbooks, are you reading anything right now?

Caleb: Ben, I think this one’s for you?

Ben: What?

Jen: Are you reading anything? Do you have any books that you like? Or series that you’re reading?

Ben: Oh. Okay.

Jen: Don’t lie. Ben Hatmaker, don’t lie.

Caleb: Ben, when’s the last time you read a book willingly?

Ben: Willingly? Oh man, that has to be like in elementary school.

Jen: Gosh.

Ben: It’s far back.

Jen: Although you did read a couple of books for school recently that you liked. You liked To Kill a Mockingbird.

Ben: I did. Honestly, that was a great book. That was . . . It had some very hard . . . Like hard points in society. Like it was, honestly, a great book.

Jen: Yes, absolutely.

Caleb: Well, that’s why they teach it in school.

Ben: I wouldn’t have liked it if I wasn’t forced to read it.

Jen: Right. Well, you wouldn’t have read it. But you did and loved it.

Ben: That part, yeah. Wouldn’t have read it if I wasn’t forced to read it.

Jen: Yes, that’s a classic for a reason.

How about you, Caleb? Here’s the thing about Caleb. Caleb is a really fast reader. And when he gets in a reading phase, we can’t get his nose out of a book. Like can’t get you to stop reading. Like you’ll bring your books to a baseball game and to the lake and on the boat. Like we can’t get you to quit reading and then you just boom, ghost it. You’re like ghost reading.

Caleb: I’ll go six months without reading a word out of a book. And then I’ll pick up a book for 30 seconds and I’ll be like, Oh, just whatever. And then I’ll read 14 books in a week.

Jen: Yeah, that is exactly. The most recent thing that you read?

Caleb: Oh man. Murder on the Orient Express.

Jen: Yeah, bro! Love that book.

Caleb: Oh what’s her name. What’s the author of that?

JenAgatha Christie, right?

Caleb: Agatha Christie, man. So many good books from Agatha Christie.

Jen: Same. I love that you discovered Agatha Christie.

Caleb: That was through people and Granna.

Jen: I know it was. I used to Granna’s Agatha Christie books. She had like shelves of them.

Caleb: She still does.

Jen: Is that where you got it? That’s amazing.

Caleb: I got a few of them from there.

Jen: I read those exact same books.

Ben: Really, really can’t relate.

Caleb: Okay, another one I really like, it’s okay. I read this whenever I was younger, don’t make fun of me. It’s kind of a more childish book. The Ranger’s Apprentice.

Jen: You loved Ranger’s Apprentice.

Caleb: It’s like 12 or 13-book series. It’s great. It’s just a really good book.

Ben: You read that last year.

Caleb: Oh no, no, no. That was my re-read—

Jen: He read it again. Like the whole series, yeah.

Ben: Oh.

Caleb: Yeah, I re-read my 14 Rangers Apprentice books.

Jen: Yeah, those are awesome. Okay, real quick, what’s your favorite game on your phone?

Ben: Favorite game on my phone?

Caleb: I don’t really have games on my phone.

Jen: You don’t?

Caleb: Actually, Bloons Tower Defense. That goes hard.

Ben: I was about to say Angry Birds.

Caleb: I’ve had that game for years, and it still goes hard. It beats every other game. I swear.

Jen: Okay. How about you, Ben? Do you have one?

Ben: I play Angry Birds and this game called Rider. It’s . . . You’re just like a . . . It’s like a motorcycle and then you do back flips and then you just go on.

Jen: I’ve watched you do that.

Ben: But I don’t really play games. I’m more on social media a lot.

Jen: Yeah.

Caleb: Yeah, phones have really moved from like . . . From games to social media.

Jen: Right, totally.

Caleb: It’s games aren’t really . . . I don’t know. It’s not really the main purpose of phones anymore.

Jen: Well, speaking of, what is your preferred social media platform?

Ben: Snapchat.

Caleb: Yeah, InstagramSnapchatTwitter. That’s like the main three. It’s the Holy Trinity, if you may.

Ben: And then we usually have Facebook for like whenever we have to download games. But usually it’s just for like old people.

Jen: Oh nice, thank you.

Ben: So we don’t use it.

Caleb: Facebook. Any . . . Like Instagram and Twitter. It says “Link your Facebook.” Almost every app you buy, you could sign up by entering your email and your phone number and all this, or you could just press Facebook. And there you go. It just makes your app for you. That’s the only reason—

Ben: Yeah, it makes it really easy.

Caleb: I don’t even think I’ve opened up the Facebook app in the past two years.

Jen: Yeah, I know. That’s not for you. That’s for your mom.

Ben: Oh my gosh. You know what I love, Mom? It was the other day. We were talking about apps and then my teacher goes, “Do you all know what MySpace is?” And no. I had no idea what that was. I’m like, “Well, what is it?” And then she goes, “Oh geez. It’s basically Facebook but for even older people.” I was like “Oh.”

Jen: Yeah, it was like the very first one.

Ben: Okay.

Caleb: You know what’s funny? I actually . . . I read this thing online. It says, “Man, I wish Instagram had like a . . . Whenever you press on your page, like you could add like music. Like your own theme song to it.” And I was like, “Huh. That was on MySpace a long time ago.”

Jen: Who do you like to follow on social media? Who are your favorite follows?

Ben: Other than my friends?

Jen: Yeah. Like do you have any influencers are the same as people that you like to follow?

Ben: Oh yeah. Kevin HartThe Rock.

Caleb: Okay. They all comment on each other’s stuff, and it’s so funny. I love it.

Ben: Well, hold on. One of my favorite things about The Rock is how he eats sushi almost every Sunday. It’s . . . Oh my gosh.

Jen: Yeah, his cheat meal.

Ben: Yes.

Jen: And it’s like enough sushi to feed 12 people.

Ben: And cookies.

CalebDid you see that picture? He had a cheat day whenever he was working out. And he ate like enough for 12 people.

Jen: Oh yeah. That bro can put down some calories.

Caleb: Listen, if The Rock wanted to adopt me, he could. Dwayne if you’re hearing this, please.

Jen: Oh my gosh. You’re so dumb.

Ben: Oh my gosh, if only.

Jen: What is your most useful app that you use on your phone?

Ben: Useful app?

Jen: Yeah, like what’s an app that you’re constantly opening—

Caleb: Oh Snapchat.

Jen: Okay so for you, it’s social media.

Caleb: No, Instagram. Yeah, Instagram.

Ben: For social media?

Jen: Well, I think more like an app. Like those are apps obviously, but outside of social media, do you have an app that you use a lot that’s helpful to you, useful to you in some way?

Ben: I mean-

Caleb: Fantasy football keeps me alive.

Jen: What does, baby?

Caleb: Fantasy football.

Jen: Ah, ’tis the season.

Caleb: I’m actually looking through my apps right now. Waze.

Jen: Oh yes Waze for sure.

Caleb: Always trust Waze.

Ben: You stole that from me. That’s so not fair.

Caleb: That is our motto. Waze has saved us 14 hours on a drive once.

Ben: Me and Teb always say, “Always trust Waze.”

Caleb: Always.

Jen: Yes, that’s right.

Caleb: After Colorado.

Jen: Okay, listeners, the reason that Ben keeps saying “Teb,” in case you don’t know what he’s saying, is because Caleb when he was little couldn’t say his own name and he called himself Tebub. “I am Tebub.” And so, over the years, we called him Tebub for a long time and then as a family, we just shrunk it to Teb. And so, we just call him that all the time. In fact, call him that so much that that’s the name he put on his letter jacket. So Teb.

Caleb: Yep, Teb is on the front of my letterman.

Jen: Okay, so aside from mine of course, which surely you’re devoted listeners. Do you have a . . . I don’t even know if you listen, but if so, do you have a favorite podcast?

Caleb: I actually do.

Jen: Okay.

Caleb: Recently, I found a podcast called SOFREP.

Jen: Soft Rep?

Caleb: SOFREP. S-O-F R-E-P, which Special Operation Forces, so it’s a military one. And Brendan Webb hosts a bunch of people and he talks about ongoing military issues. And he has so many different people on and it’s really cool getting their insight. I mean he has upwards of like 500 episodes that are like an hour and a half. It’s . . . They’re really, really cool. And he has really cool guests too. I mean, I believe if I’m correct, he’s had Marcus Luttrell from Lone Survivor which is a really cool guy. It’s just . . . It’s really cool going into their mind and how they see things and issues. And he goes into every aspect of the military and home life and after the military and just everything . . . It’s really . . . It’s a cool podcast.

Jen: I can see why you would like it, for sure. Everybody listening, we’ll link over to that if you want to have a listen too. Ben, do you listen to podcasts at all?

Ben: Actually, yes. I usually listen to sports podcasts. But for the first time this year, in my ELA class, my teacher started to make us listen to a podcast about a murder investigation and we had to follow along with it. We had to try to figure out who was the killer and everything. And it was honestly pretty good. I never thought I’d actually like that kind of stuff.

Jen: Oh yeah. Do you remember what it was called?

Ben: I’m trying to think about it.

Jen: Because there’s a lot . . . Crime podcasts are hugely popular. And there’s a lot of really great ones out there.

Caleb: Hey, Ben?

Ben: Huh?

Caleb: If you like that, let me give you my copy of Murder On The Orient Express.

Jen: That’s true! Buddy, you would like it, I’m telling you.

Caleb: No, you will fall in love. You would literally . . . You’d have to set down the book for a little bit afterwards.

Jen: That’s a good way to close the loop, buddy.

All right. So one last question and then we’re going to do a quick little wrap up. Now that, Caleb, you have three plus years of high school behind you and, Ben, you have over a year behind you, what advice would you go back and give your own self let’s say around age 10, like around fifth grade. What would you tell yourself back then about the things not to sweat in middle or high school? Not to worry about?

Caleb: Oh my gosh.

Jen: Not to worry about. Why don’t you go first, Caleb? If you could go back and say, “Listen, little Caleb, you’re worried about this right now but don’t worry about it”?

Caleb: [Don’t worry about] what people think about you. I know that sounds, like, the most stereotypical thing to say. But like genuinely. Like what other people say about you . . . People are always going to say things. Especially like me with the rumors. Yeah, it sucks. But really I’m just like, okay.

Jen: Like who cares?

Caleb: I mean it’s just . . . It’s a bunch of people being dumb. I mean, I know people who stress out over that. And like they’re a social media personality. I know people who live on Instagram. They care more about who they are on Instagram than who they are in real life.

Ben: Oh, wow.

Jen: Sure. Wow, that’s actually the same for all of my age group also. What would you say, Ben?

Ben: Okay. What I would say to myself is not to worry so much about your grades. Oh my gosh.

Caleb: That was another one.

Ben: Mom, like I don’t know I ever told you this, but I was in middle school. I had made a really bad, what’s it called? Bad grade on a test. Like it was bad. One of my worst. And me and a few of my friends were at the lunch table and we were just all crying together.

Jen: Buddy. Oh buddy.

Ben: Cried together because, Mom, it was so bad. And then, I recently learned my . . . It was either my teacher or some adult person in my life said, “No person, whenever they’re asking for your job application, is going to ask what are you made on your sixth grade tests. What you made on your senior year exam. Like no one is going to ask for that. As long as you have the right diploma or stuff like that.”

Jen: Yeah. That’s right. That’s 100% true.

Caleb: Yeah, I actually . . . So yeah my freshman year biology, pre-AP biology was a C. And it was pretty—

Jen: Lame?

Caleb: Yeah. This year. I’m going to shout out to Darcy. We both got 24s on a test.

Jen: Baby.

Caleb: And we took pictures of it.

Jen: Is this like true confessional right here on the podcast?

Caleb: Yeah, confessional. I mean we both re-took the test, but—

Ben: Oh, I could never.

Jen: I mean, that is so bad, it’s like you almost got none right.

Caleb: Oh my gosh, yeah. It honestly surprised us. We were like, it was rough.

Jen: Congratulations on a new personal low.

Ben: Wow.

Jen: But what’s funny, you guys, is this just keeps going. Like, even college is like this. I mean even your performance in college, who cares? You just finish. Like dad always laughs because I was just a big nerd. I’m a big grade nerd. And so I graduated college with honors, and it’s called magma cum laude. Because you graduate with like 3.8. And so I graduated magna cum laude. And dad always says he graduated college Hakuna Matata from Lion King, which means no worries. He just skated on through. Super average. And who cares? We both got jobs right away. It just didn’t matter. Like it just—

Caleb: I can see—

Ben: “I graduated at Hakuna Matata.”

Caleb: I’m using that.

Jen: That’s your parents right there, the yin and the yang.

Jen: Okay. So three quick wrap up questions. Just off the top of your head. Here’s the first one. So Caleb, which class do you think—and I know you’re at the beginning of the year, but which class do you think is going to be your favorite this year?

Caleb: Oh man. So I have two favorite classes for two different reasons. Track class. I mean it’s . . . I love track. And it’s really cool. I mean our coaches are really cool too. They really . . . I mean he’s motivational. He talks to us like a family. It’s really cool. You grow . . . I’ve already grown a tight bond with a lot of people in that class.

Jen: Okay, and the other one?

Caleb: And my other class is Auto Tech.

Jen: Yep. I thought you would say that.

Caleb: Yep. Dripping Springs has a really nice Auto Tech program. And it’s just . . . It’s really cool to be able to . . . I feel like in high school not a lot of things are like really hands on. It’s like a really big . . . It’s a nice break from the rest of how high school is.

Jen: Like just sitting in a desk listening?

Caleb: Yeah. It’s like our very first day. Well, our second day, instead of like sitting there and, “Okay, now let’s fill out some paperwork and do all this.” He’s like, “Okay, Caleb you want to go work on that sub-frame?” I was like, “Oh okay.”

Jen: Yeah, you loved that.

Caleb: It’s just fun.

Jen: Okay. That’s perfect. That’s very in line with what you love.

Ben, how about you? Favorite class this year?

Ben: My favorite class this year . . . Well, my favorite class, like forever, has always been math. Because math just naturally comes to me, I don’t know why. But also this year, I like Chemistry.

Jen: I’m glad you love that. That was the hardest class I took in high school. My only C.

What class are you convinced you’re never going to use again. Caleb?

Caleb: So I want to say AP Physics. But in reality, a lot of that stuff I actually use.

Jen: Yeah. That makes sense.

Caleb: Which I hate to say out loud.

Jen: Okay. So you’re trying to say it, but you actually can’t admit it. How about you, Ben?

Caleb: College prep math. Sorry, college prep math. Been in there three weeks. Please take me out of the class. Please.

Jen: Finish strong, kid. You got to fight the screw its. How about you, Ben?

Ben: For me, it’s my AP World History. I would like to know how learning about the fall of Rome and China helps me get a job now.

Jen: Well, listen, one day you’ll be glad that you know history. You’re not just a dumb dumb who doesn’t know anything that ever happened.

Caleb: History repeats itself.

Ben: Okay, but for real though.

Caleb: You never know whenever your country’s going to fall, Ben.

Ben: Uh-huh. Yeah.

Jen: There you go. Okay, last question guys, here we go, let’s land the plane. This is a question that I ask all my guests. And you can answer it however you want. Like it can just be whatever sort of answer you want it to be. If it’s something really serious or something really goofy, it’s up to you. But the question is . . . We’ll start with you, Caleb. What is saving your life right now?

Caleb: Well, something that kind of actually caught me off guard was the community at Dripping Springs. Like just the family like friendship that just grows so quickly through all those kids there. It’s just . . . It’s really nice.

Jen: Okay.

Caleb: I mean just all the people there. They’re just . . . They’re great, man.

Jen: Okay. New friends. I love it. How about you, Ben?

Ben: Saving my life?

Jen: Yeah, it’s dramatic. Admittedly, it’s a dramatic question. But sometimes people say things like, “Potato salad.”

Ben: I don’t know what I would do without my phone.

Jen: Oh sheesh.

Caleb: Oh gosh.

Ben: I’m just playing.

Caleb: No you’re not.

Ben: Okay, maybe.

Jen: Kind of serious.

Ben: Okay, but it would definitely be my friends. I love them to death. I am such a social person. I do not know what I would do without them. I would get bored so quickly. That’s the only reason why I go to school.

Jen: That’s it.

Okay, you guys. Well, look. I think you’re two really great high school kids. You’re each probably going to take a different path out of here, but I’m excited for both of them. And Dad and I are proud and feel like each of you is sort of charting a certain direction, and you don’t have to know what that is right now but we can see it in you. And we can kind of see what you’re starting to love and what you’re drawn to, what you’re going to be good at. It’s going to be exciting to watch. Really exciting to watch and we just have less than a year left with Caleb. And then boom, Ben, you’re going to be a junior. It’s just going so fast.

But I hope that you can just continue to really enjoy high school and just, instead of always looking for the next thing, just like be in it. High school goes so quickly. And just make your memories and have your experiences and hang on to your friendships. And because it’s just . . . You don’t get it back. Not that you want it back. But you don’t get it back.

Jen: So hey, thanks for being on the show. You guys did it.

Ben: Oh yeah.

Jen: You absolutely did it. You nailed it.

Ben: Really fun, actually.

Caleb: So I accept PayPal.

Jen: Oh geez.

Caleb: Venmo . . .

Jen: Listen, I’m not going to pay you to live in my house.

Ben: Also, Mom, are you saying it’s okay to screw up in high school?

Jen: Listen, don’t push it.

Ben: Okay, okay.

Jen: Don’t push it. All right, you guys. Love you.

Caleb: Love you too.

Ben: Love you too, Mom.

Jen: Those guys. They crack me up every day of my life. I love them so much. I hope you loved them too.

I am so happy you’re in this series. We’re doing awesome giveaways, by the way, if you happened to miss that. Big giveaway every single week of this series. Be following along over either on my Facebook page or my Insta page, and you’ll see how to enter. And that’s fun too. So love all the new listeners that we have. Love how many of you are sharing these episodes with the students in your life, and the people who love students in your life, and your fellow parents. This is awesome. This is for you.

And look, next week. I don’t even know what to say. And next week is the Middle School Edition with Remy Hatmaker and her best friend, Ella, and all the middle school you can handle, you guys, and maybe more. Maybe more than you can handle. These are the dearest, sweetest, wildest 8th grade girls you’ve ever met in your life. So cannot wait for you to come back for that one.

Hey, if you haven’t already, pop over to wherever you listen to podcasts and subscribe. That is so great for the show. And it’s great for you because you never ever have to look for a single episode. It just pops up in your phone. Here we are. Tra la la.

Thank you for all of our subscribers. Some of you have just been with us from the very beginning of this podcast. And we appreciate your loyalty so very much and it is our great pleasure to pull off an awesome show for you week after week after week. So on behalf of our producer, Laura, and her whole team, and then on behalf of my assistant, Amanda and I. And we’re just . . . We’ve just run our circus over here, we are thankful for you and happy to bring you the show.

Do not miss next week when you get to hear from Remy and Ella about what is happening in the middle school world. Bye, everybody.

Narrator: That’s it for today’s show. Hope you enjoyed this chat. Be sure to subscribe to my mom’s podcast and give it a “thumbs up” rating if you like it. From the whole Hatmaker family, hope you have a great week and see you next time!

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