The Suitcase and the Teenage Girl

Want a little chuckle in your day? Tell a teenage girl that she can only take a single, small, carryon size suitcase on a trip. Sit back and watch as she tries to pack. It’s quite amusing.

We had the opportunity to travel to NYC a few weeks ago with a school group and we were told that in order to accommodate such a large group traveling together each and every one of us needed to take nothing larger than an airline carry-on size suitcase in order to try and avoid having to spend time checking and picking up luggage. A collective moan went up around the classroom when the announcement was made. We were going to be up there for a total of four days, of course that size would be just fine. The older women, men and guys in the group had no problems with that restriction. BUT the teenage girls, that statement hit them hard. Along with the size of the luggage was the fact everyone also had to abide with the airline requirement of 3 oz. containers of liquids all contained in a small plastic bag. One could see their brains clicking along thinking of all the things that they just absolutely need and how they could possibly survive for four whole days without some of these things.

I’ve tried to get my daughter to pack light before without much success. She would always overpack and we would end up in a skirmish over how she just couldn’t possibly do without all of these items. And since these were supposed to be vacation moments for me, times to get away from the stress of work, life, bills and such… I would give in and let her take a bigger size. Stressing and arguing over the size of a suitcase just didn’t seem worth it if I wanted to enjoy my brief vacation times. Well, this time the command down to everyone so she couldn’t wheedle and plead her way out of that one. I figured I’d sit back and enjoy the show.

First of all, we were going to New York City, a place where style is first and foremost. Additionally, it was quite cold the weekend that we were there (it was in the 30’s) and we are Floridians. At home, the weather was already in the 70’s and 80’s at this point. Also, it’s kind of hard to imagine cold when our winters only drop down to the 50’s for the most part. My daughter kept trying to pick out stylish clothes that she would wear in warmer weather. I had to keep reining her in to remind her that she needed to focus on warmer clothes, on layering and staying warm. Of course selecting bulkier, warmer clothes tend to take up more space in an already small suitcase leaving very little room for additional clothes. Then she needed to be sure there was room for shoes, toiletries, and certain essentials. It took a while, days actually, she packed, repacked, dumped everything out, and packed yet again. Her room looked like a tornado whipped through it. Every drawer was agape, clothes draped and strewn about. Vials of shampoos, conditioners and makeup littered the dresser counter spaces. Her room literally had a little path leading from the door to the bed where she was packing. My suitcase on the other hand had already been packed and ready to go a week earlier, so I was able to sit back and watch. I think every mother enjoyed watching their daughters struggle with this knowing how many times we’ve tried to convince them that they only needed the bare necessities for a certain event only to be met with extreme resistance.

She did it though. She learned a few tricks along the way such as rolling things vs. folding and tucking items into others. She learned how to maximize the use of every possible space in that small, rectangular box. We even ended up coming home with a few unworn pieces AND was even able to pack in souvenirs that we picked up along the way.

Now that she’s accomplished this, there’s no way I’m allowing her to take a bigger suitcase than the one she used to NYC on a beach vacation. Who knows – I just may limit her to a backpack. That’s not an unreasonable request, I mean, we’re talking about the beach here. All one needs is a bikini, shorts, tank tops, flip-flops and some sunscreen. Should be interesting to see how that one turns out.

The Day Sex Became an Awkward Subject

As a teenager, sex was tempting – forbidden – enticing… The hormones start going wild in a teenager’s body causing them to make reckless choices. Throwing caution to the wind, we push the limits often crossing them. It’s usually a crazy times in our lives when we’re discovering certain erotic feelings and emotions all for the first time. It’s a rush. It’s crazy and breath-taking. Some of us resist while others let go of all caution and dive in body and soul.

Sex changes as we get older, wiser and often as part of a couple. While still exciting and fun, it also changes in a way. It becomes more stable and expected. It’s not “forbidden” anymore which added a huge element of excitement. In this stage, sometimes couples have to work at creating the excitement that they once had.

As a parent of a teenager…

All of a sudden SEX becomes a dreaded thing. Something to cringe from. A topic that most of us, as parents, want desperately to avoid.

Everywhere I turn I’m seeing teens the same age as my daughter having sex, talking about sex, switching sex partners casually, and getting pregnant.

I’m on the other side of the coin now. The side that my parents were on when I first discovered the awesome headiness of an intimate encounter with the opposite gender. I look at my teenager and I still see my baby, my little girl. Surely she can’t reach that same point that I remember way back when, but she is. Now SEX takes on a new meaning for me. I’m dealing with it though. Short of locking her up in a room and taking away all means of communication with the outside world, I just have to trust that I’ve taught her enough that she’ll make good choices.

Telling a teenager “NO,” really isn’t an option, it’ll only make them determined to prove you wrong. All I can do is try and keep the lines of communication open between us. Make sure that she always feels safe and comfortable coming to me about anything. So far it seems to have worked, she’s confided in me about things that have made both of us uncomfortable, some of it involving her friends and others involving herself, but we have been able to discuss the situation. It usually ends up with me shaking my head in disbelief or some awkward admission of fact. I’m a huge believer in being honest with answers when your teenager asks. My philosophy is that if they ask, they deserve the truth. If the truth is something that you regret then show that to them. Everyone makes mistakes and parents are no different.

We were having an uncomfortable (for me) question and answer session the other day. It started off with me finding out some things about her and her friends and segued into her asking me about my teen years.  She was asking me questions about when I first had sex, when I first experimented with pot, smoking, drinking, etc…  When she asked me about smoking, I hesitated but then I told her the truth. Thirteen.

“Wow, that’s really young.”

“Yea, I know. We didn’t have access to all the information that you guys have today.” I was trying hard to let her know that smoking really wasn’t a great idea. I’m not a smoker. I’ve smoked cigarettes at certain times in my life but they were brief and something always made me quit. To which I’m grateful for today.

“When did you first get drunk?”

Ugh. This isn’t getting any easier. “Um, probably about 15.”

“Hmm. I’m not going to drink.”

Wonderful, she’s showing her own mind here. We’ve had a lot of discussions regarding drinking, smoking and drugs. I’m really happy to hear her come to that kind of conclusion.

“When did you first have sex?”

Rolling my eyes to the heavens and heaving a huge sigh. Do I tell the truth or lie? Truth. “Sixteen.”

“With who?”

“Your dad, who else?”

She looked at me solemnly, “Thank you for telling me the truth, mom.”

The bad thing about these admissions was having to say I had my first with a lot of these things at a younger age than she is now. In my mind, she’s still a baby. In my teenage mind when I was 13, 15, 16… I was ready. I was old enough.

How screwed up is that??

Confidence is Sexy

What’s sexy? What’s beauty?

I see people trying so hard to be sexy. The younger generation especially but not just – some people never quite figure out what sexy is and keep trying to fit the mold of what they think it is based on TV, movies and magazines. Skin tight clothes, low cut shirts, thigh high slits or whatever they see advertised as being sexy. While those things will grab attention, it won’t stick in anyone’s mind after they’ve moved on. It’s the person who carries themselves with grace, poise and confidence that will be remembered.

A lot of people turn to plastic surgery to add or subtract from whatever feature they deem undesirable in order to appear more attractive. Yet, how many people have you seen that are absolutely sexy and gorgeous with what society would consider flaws. It’s all in how one chooses to carry themselves. If they feel good, it shows.

Personally, I think true beauty comes from confidence. Put two people side by side, male or female and dress them exactly the same. The one that stands out and catches everyone’s eye will be the one who’s confident and comfortable with themselves.

Since I have a teen, I spend a lot of time around teenagers and see so many of them going to extremes to fit the mold of sexy and beautiful. As parents, as society, we owe it to our teens to encourage them to embrace every feature and attribute they were born with and to be confident.  It’s that confidence that shines through and grabs everyone’s attention. Besides why would anyone want to look like the next person? It’s the uniqueness in each of us that stands out. Embrace it, love it.

I wish I had this figured out when I was younger. It would have saved me so much time and energy trying to find out who I was and wondering what I could do to look beautiful and sexy just like the ones in the magazines. The simple answer to that is nothing. Everyone is gorgeous in their own way and the beauty comes through when you finally get that in your head.

Sexiness and beauty is in us all. We just need to stop turning to the media for validation and have confidence in what we, each of us, have.

 

 

I Hate Alarm Clocks!

I’ve never been a morning person. This morning the alarm woke me rudely as it always does. As I do every morning, I turn it off and roll out of bed and into the shower. I’ve learned years ago not to snooze for an extra five or ten minutes as it always leaves me feeling frustrated and wanting more sleep.

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Back to this morning – I wake up, reluctantly – shower, in sleep mode – get dressed – when I noticed that my daughter still wasn’t up yet. I knew that she should have already been up by the time I got dressed so I rushed in there where I found her still in deep sleep. Crap!

Rushing over to her side, I shook her shoulder, not that gently either. I needed to get through that deep coma she was in at the moment. After a few moments of shaking and calling her name, she finally rose up to the surface.

Squinting, since I turned the overhead light on, she threw her hands up in the air to try and block it out. “Whaa??” I could see her trying to orient herself.

“Honey, you need to get up. You’re going to be late for school.” I could see she was still struggling to shake off the fog she was in. I kept shaking her and trying to get her to focus.

“We need to be out of here by 7:00. Do you know what time it is?” I took her cell phone and waved it in front of her eyes. “Here take your phone and look at the time.”

With one eye, she peered at her cell and looked at me. She should have been jumping out of bed at this point.

“Do you see the time?? You only have fifteen minutes to get ready before we have  to leave.”

Slowly, she looked at me and at her phone then back to me. “Mom, I’m confused.  Why do we have to get up?”

OMG, she’s seriously out of it! “WAKE UP. It’s 6:45.”

Again she peered at her phone. “But it’s 5:45.”

My mouth, which was opening to tell her again to get her butt out of bed, snapped shut. No. That can’t be right… is it?

I backed out into the hallway to look down the hall into my bedroom and the clock that was glowing on my bedside and sure enough – 5;45.

Seriously??? How the hell did I miss that?

 

Falling In Love

It’s a really strange feeling when your child starts flirting, having boyfriends (or girlfriends) and dating.

In my mind she will always be a little girl and it was just so odd to see her moving into the romance phase of her life. It seemed to happen overnight too. One minute I was worrying about mundane things like making sure she kept up with school, homework and chores and the next thing I knew, I was having to be vigilante about which guys were coming into her life. It just opens up a whole new ballgame.

I was rolling with it though. I just made sure that the communication lines were always open between us. She confided in me and we’d have talks about life, boys , dating, etc…

I can handle this, I thought. I made sure she knew that the heavy duty relationships and marriage comes after college. After she’s had a chance to figure out who she really was. She agreed and all was good. Until….

She met THE guy. They had a lot in common, had same goals of college, education and future plans. They became inseparable. Nothing I did or said deterred them from being in love and making future plans. At first I thought – Okay, they’ll probably get through this and then it’ll fizzle out. But then I remembered something that hadn’t really registered in my brain until now when I see her at sixteen.

Sixteen was when I met the guy I’d eventually marry. We did divorce after 23 years of marriage, but the point is I was only sixteen and I’d already met the guy I was going to spend the next quarter of my life with. Once that realization set into my head, I started looking at her in an entirely different light. Is it possible that this could be the one? Yea, I guess it is. Do I still think it’s too young? Absolutely. In our parents and grandparents day, meeting your future mate at sixteen was not unthinkable. Today, I think there are just too many things to experience and figure out to settle for someone at that early of an age, but I realize that the heart sometimes knows what it wants. It’s entirely possible that this could be the one for her.

I figure that the most important thing is to be there for her to bounce her ideas, thoughts and feelings off of and most of all to love her unconditionally. I’m not going to lecture her or try to keep them apart. I just need to make sure they don’t lose sight of their goals. Know that college and education comes first because it will help make life so much easier if and when they do decide to get together.

Besides, so far, I like the guy that she’s chosen. He seems to be a good fit for her at this point in their lives. I just hope they remain on track with their goals and not divert from them the way I did. I didn’t have anyone around to advise me and make sure I was making the right decisions. So I’m putting myself in that position for them.

I had forgotten how powerful love can be. It’s all encompassing and just changes ones life completely. I remember when I look at them how it had been for me. It’s an amazing feeling and I wouldn’t take it away from them. It’s just that in my mind she’s still my baby and to see her moving into romance and love is, well I wouldn’t say difficult, but it’s been challenging to figure out how much to let go and how much to pull back.

Falling in love… such an amazing experience.

The New Meaning of Driving One Crazy

For all you parents out there who have kids under fifteen, just wait. Just wait till they get their learner’s permit. Then you will truly understand how nerve-wracking it is for the parent.

My daughter could not wait for the day she turned fifteen for that meant she could get her driving permit. I was okay with it. I know she has to learn sometime and after all I got mine when I turned fifteen also. In fact, I had been driving way before that on a property that my dad owned. Anytime he would go out there to work, I’d tag along at age twelve or thirteen and take the car around on the property while he worked. No biggie.

So the magical birthday rolls around and soon after we were at the DMV getting her permit. I was still feeling comfortable about the whole driving idea. That afternoon I took her to a huge parking lot where I knew there would not be anyone around. It was one of those places that had gone out of business. Took her there and explained what she needed to be watching for on the dashboard gauges. We went over the positioning of the seat and mirrors. Finally, she was ready. I settled down on the passenger side and we were ready to go. She took it nice and easy. I had her driving as if she were on the road, staying in the proper lanes, stopping for imaginary lights and signs. All in all it was a good driving experience.

THEN she was ready to drive on the road. My gut clenched, the nerves started firing and I found myself making excuses on why today wasn’t the right day. A few days passed and she kept after me to let her drive on the road. We live in a busy city and there are no light days to take her out for a practice drive. It’s jump in traffic and go. I ran out of excuses and so we finally got ready for her first drive on the road.

I handed her the keys. She had to tug on them a bit because my fingers just didn’t want to unhook from the key ring. Getting in the car, she began adjusting the seat and mirrors while I was still lecturing her from outside the car. I reminded her of the blind spots and how she would have to get familiar with the blind spots of different vehicles. I walked around the car and had her look in the mirrors for when I disappeared from sight so that she would get a good feel of where she could easily miss something. As I lectured on and on about the blind spots and all the different possible scenarios where she could run into trouble while driving, she finally looked at me and said, “Mom, you’re stalling. Let’s go.”

Agh, she was so right. I was stalling. The realization that I was about to hand over the controls to the car to my fifteen year old daughter was finally hitting me full force in the face, FIFTEEN! That age all of a sudden seemed way too young to me. Reluctantly, I got into the car and prepared myself.

Buckling in, I kept an eagle eye on everything she touched. Made sure she put it in reverse and not drive. I’m sure my eyes were rolling about wildly as she started moving out of the drive. My foot was already pressing down on the floorboard on my side, wishing madly I had a set of brakes over there. If there had been, we would not have moved one inch.

As she moved out into the road, my poor heart started doing palpitations,  I was trying so hard to be calm and collected so that she would be relaxed and focused on her driving. However, my hands would fly up to hold the dashboard or the handle above the seat. My foot automatically slammed onto the floor looking for the brakes. She’d come up behind a car or to a stop light and I would press back in the seat with both hands clutching the door and console on either side of me.

“You’re coming up too fast. Start braking please.” I’d say.

“Mom, relax. I’m stopping already.”

“You need to give yourself more time to brake.”

“I know, mom. I’m fine. See, I can do this.”

“Don’t get cocky. Cocky drivers always get into trouble.”

“Sheesh, mom. Relax already would you?”

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I knew she was doing fine. She was being responsible and careful. She listened to me and did what I asked of her. It’s just the feeling of being out of control and having a fifteen year old manipulating so many thousand pounds of steel.

This went on for a long while, every time we’d go out and she asked to drive, my mind and body would automatically go into that fight or flight mode. The adrenaline would start pumping and my nerves started jangling. I never realized how much I liked to be in control of a vehicle and just how helpless I could feel sitting over there with a newbie driver.

She’s actually a good driver. It wasn’t that she gave me reason to be so panicky every time we went out. It was simply my own response to teaching or being responsible for a young, new driver. I know now that I could never be a driving instructor. I wouldn’t be able to handle the stress. Today, she does a lot of the driving and I’ve actually gotten to the point where I can check my phone and send text messages without feeling I have to have eyes on the road and her every second. I still press down on the floorboard trying to brake when we come up behind cars or to a light, and she knows it. I think she takes some small delight in the fact that I get so jittery over this. That’s okay… one day, she will be in my shoes and I’ll be in the back seat laughing at her. No, let’s correct that – I’ll be at HOME laughing at her. I don’t think I want to go through this again with a grandchild. I’ll just let her handle it while I’m in a safe, comfortable place.

Food, food and more food!

I have never had so much food in my kitchen for an extended period of time as I have these past couple of weeks. I’m no cook and I’m not ashamed to say so. In my opinion the microwave was one of the greatest inventions of all time. I can’t imagine life without that one minute wonder. I’m divorced, I work, and I’ve been raising a kid who for a long time was involved with dance. Life was running from one thing to another. So, food was anything I can stick in a microwave with minimal clean up afterward.

So, what happened??? My teenage daughter discovered cooking! She’s been watching the Food Network channel over the summer and started discovering recipes on the website. A little over a week ago, I came home to find a white board that we have hung up in the kitchen for reminders, appointments, etc…, filled with ingredients for various recipes. She informs me that we have to go grocery shopping because she’s going to start cooking. There was a long list of ingredients that she needed. I had to remind her that groceries cost money and for her to be a little budget conscious when selecting some of these recipes but otherwise, I was happy to indulge in her latest interest.  I’d rather see her interested in cooking than running around getting in trouble like so many of the other teens I see these days.

This is the girl that I could not convince to go into the kitchen for something as simple as boiling pasta. She always shied away from cooking and I figured that it was probably something that I was passing on to her with my own aversion to getting in the kitchen. I knew she needed to at least have the basics down, but wasn’t having any luck getting her to learn. Suddenly, she just up and went from being totally anti-cooking to preparing elaborate recipes. It required a bit of adjusting on my part. I went from having minimal basics in the kitchen to a whole spice rack along with a gazillion different cooking ingredients. Not to mention kitchen tools. Today she tells me that she needs one of those things to hammer out meat, a decent cheese grater, and some better kitchen knives. I have to keep pulling her back and say, hey… these things cost money. One thing at a time. Right now, my grocery bill is doubling.

I’ll have to say I”m enjoying her cooking. She’s been very successful in preparing the dishes she’s selected.

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Spaghetti and meatballs made from scratch. None of the frozen meatballs thrown into sauce like I would do.

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Leftover meatballs sliced and made into a sandwich with slivers of peppers on it. Delicious!

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Chicken Parm. This one was ambitious, but she pulled it off. The taste was amazing.

One of the things that always kept me from really getting into cooking was the time. Time it took to prepare and cook the food plus the time it would take to clean up afterward. Believe me, there’s been more dishes these past couple of weeks than I’ve probably done in months. Counter and stove clean up is happening on a daily basis whereas before I could give everything a quick wipe down and be done with it. But that’s okay. I can see where the cooking is giving her a lot of confidence and pleasure. She’s seeing results and finding that they’re quite delicious. I’m getting some amazing food. We’re working together in the kitchen (I do the clean up, can’t stand a dirty kitchen so I go behind her and put things away and clean).

This whole cooking experience has brought us closer together. I would highly recommend getting into the kitchen with your teen if you can. We’ve had a lot of laughter, experimentation, researching, etc…  She’s even getting involved with the cleaning afterward now while before she started cooking, she’d whine, fuss and moan anytime I asked her to please help with the dishes, or fixing anything. She seems to understand now why it’s so much easier to have a clean kitchen.

Meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy the good food and the new maturity in my teen. It’s been so nice not to spend all my time nagging and fussing with her.