murphyormel

wacky reflections from a nutcracker wannabe

Category: teenagers

Most likely to be in the Journal of Mass Spectrometry.

Wait, that was my brilliant brother, not me. 

I’m more likely heading for a display ad in Working Mother that reads, “Advice appreciated. My teenager has entered the fifth dimension, and it isn’t a movie, it is being months from navigating the terrifying, wonderful, ‘friends over family’ landscape called being 15.”

I reference my sweet brother, as he is parenting a five-year old dollie who eats humus, broccoli, tofu and avocado for snacks. I’m the fast-moving, fast talking, single mama who begs my teenage girl to eat an apple with caramel, a carrot with Ranch – something in a food group that isn’t candy to compliment the microwaved corn dog.  And to make it more ridiculous, I can barely spell broccoli without spell check, yet speak proper context for esoteric, voracious and/or cathexis.

Where is the handbook? (A parenting handbook not one on mass spectrometry.)

How many times must I say “no, you can not drive my car?” And how long can they stay in their room without coming out for air? Will thumb dysfunction due to texting be covered by ACA? No wonder vision tests are required in high school these days, and the human attention span is shorter than a goldfish**

Psychology teaches us this is normalcy, functional, early beginnings of independence, and pushing us as parents (which btw- works to test the patience of both). And I do get it. I am certain I did the same thing, but that was a long, long time ago, and the phrase, “because I am the parent” sounded ludicrous in the 80s.  In 2015, I really like the phrase. This week, my smart girl even pulled the Socratic method on me. Seriously? Is this law school? Did I miss where Litigation 101 came after Physical Education in middle school?

It’s a little lonely to be on the inside back cover of Working Mother without answers.  And more bittersweet, without her presence in the way she was at five….half my height, pigtails, contagious belly laughter, a princess cape and holding my hand tucked into bed reading together or working a Mad Lib.

(Now, THERE is a marketing opportunity Mad Libs (appropriately named) that facilitate parent-teenager communication.)

This is teenage-hood. My role is to give her space, cheer on risk (within reason), allow her to choose and face her own consequences, lead by example, encourage newly developing talents and nurture the road less traveled.  My job is to love her and rally in her corner, no matter where and how she lands. (I find a closed-door and deep breathing techniques also help.)

Her job; however, is simply to be.

Someday they will all return to our dimension and with them, they will bring extra love, wisdom and learnings and the great power of finding adventure while seeking their truth.

We will no longer need Working Mother for advice or guilt over the occasional corn dog, rather we as parents of teens are also learning a new landscape – through adult reading glasses and wisely picked battles that truly matter.

Metta,

Mel

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** http://time.com/3858309/attention-spans-goldfish/

Just because:

http://www.workingmother.com/best-companies/2014-working-mother-100-best-companies

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_spectrometry / Mass spectrometry (MS) is an analytical chemistry technique that helps identify the amount and type of chemicals present in a sample by measuring the mass-to-charge ratio and abundance of gas-phase ions.

“I was daydreaming in Mass and decided you shouldn’t talk in the car.” – daughter

thank goodness we have silliness to offset our vulnerable days.

And yes, we all have our own curious observations, but I feel drawn to pen/paper to share, 1. so my aging brain doesn’t forget, and 2. to validate we are all one in silliness….

– What is the new attraction to emoticons at the end of every text or Instagram post?  I recently found myself downloading very sassy ones (and actually paying $).  Seems like I’ve crossed into addiction.

–  One probably shouldn’t decide MID-tattoo that tipping up-front makes more sense than once the one hour, under the knife experience is complete.

– Why do I repeatedly have to tell my 14-year-old that “leggings are not pants”?  (And don’t judge me as a helicopter mom, my not so baby girl is 5’7″ blonde, blue-eyed, full-lipped, slender and looks about 21!  You too would make her change.)

– Ever notice we put food in a fridge that is magnetic, but we don’t use old style thermometers, because of mercury? (Again, it becomes clear why I’m not the sibling with the PhD in radio-chemistry.)

–  Why is it that those days when you feel a little cloudy or words don’t come as smoothly are always the wrong days?  Teaching last week, I was high on the flaky dial. Words weren’t coming, concepts didn’t land as I like, and I left my phone at home. As I finally had to admit to my class that I was not 100% “on”, one of the students noted my shirt read “Find your center”.

–  Why is it we all just feel smarter in a book store? Don’t even have to read, just drink a coffee and the magic happens.

–  Is it wrong for a mom- in advance of an early “hang out with the new boyfriend”, to give advice on how to french kiss?  No one told me in 8th grade, and Bobby Brown scared the hell out of me with that tongue.  I didn’t want her to be “Bobby Browned”, so I explained the technique, complete with use of the word “retreat” and “engage”.  Sounds a little creepy on paper now that I type this note.

– When my baby was little, I knew I had limited chances to coach a team that required real knowledge, so I signed up to be an asst. coach for 1st and 2nd grade girls soccer.  So, with a “how to” book in hand, work colleagues drawing me drills on cocktail napkins, and a positive attitude, I coached the 1-7 “Pee Wee Fireflies”.  No, we weren’t the winningest team, but I’m confident I received more hugs than EVERY other team with a dad coach.  Moms, go for it!

– What’s up with this bizarre magnetic connection to our phones?  Remember those strings grandma tied on your mittens through your coat sleeves?  Last night, my daughter came home to tell me she lost $20 in change from dinner at the mall, so when I asked if she had her phone, she said, “of course”.  Magnetic connection to a phone but not money?

–  Why is a pile of completed books on my nightstand an accomplishment, but I never once took a photo of the 30+ bags of leaves I raked every year for years when I owned my last home?

– Holy Thursday Mass: “I was daydreaming in Mass and decided you shouldn’t talk in the car when we pick up (boyfriend).”  Next Day:  “I’ve changed my mind and think you should talk. Here is what you can say….He plays hockey and…….his mom does yoga.”  Day after “date”, “Why did you say that?  If it isn’t on the approved list, please do not say it at all.”

And so my friends, I now know why chauffeurs have a plexiglass shield between themselves and their passengers.

Cheers to moments so curious they can’t help but make you smile….

Mel

“never do for a teenager that which they can do for themselves” – mom

lol, my brave, psychotherapist, mom said that to me months ago, and I am watching my own 14-year-old…. well, NOT always do that which she can for herself….unless there is a consequence from me.

I suppose I too was the same at that age. I’ve blocked a lot, as of course, I only recall cleaning my room without being asked, playing classical (yeah, right) music softly while doing homework immediately upon return from school, cleaning the dishes without being asked and making gourmet dinners for the entire family after walking all the neighborhood dogs and babysitting for free.  lol!

The 60s.  The 80s.  And today.  Girls will be girls.  Trips to the mall with no money and small figures to try on clothes we couldn’t afford but giggling and following the cute boys who appeared more interested in the video arcade than our awkwardness.  Fashion trends that used to be magazine cutouts from Teen Beat are now iPhone apps or Instagram polls to determine the best dress or shoes or nail trends with immediate inputs from our girl ‘squad’. I remember roller skating parties with hard rock hair, lip gloss and the hope of a cute boy to ask me to slow skate to Rick Springfield or Loverboy, or the school or regional teen nights where again we waited our moment to slow dance with cute boys to the same Rick Springfield or Journey favorites.  Girls will be girls.  The motive is the same, the approach very different.

We rode our bicycles all over town and to the pool day in and day out, only coming home for meals and darkness. Wore t-shirts over our bikini’s because of feeling self-conscious. We called one another on our princess phones to chat up who liked whom, and whom should ask who to the Sadie Hawkins dance.  Today, they text directly without a face to face reality of body language, speak in group chats (and forget who is included), forward information behind one another’s back, create fake identities, “borrow” WIFI, and try leaving the house in outfits a dad wouldn’t approve, watch the “like” frequency grow on their Instagram and Twitter accounts, flirt in a much more overt approach than sneaking notes in class with alter ego’s (i.e. the Soda Pop gang of my own elementary days), and have to delete the photos mom watches online (because well, I pay for the phone, and that is the deal)……but when we as parents really evaluate our teens of today…...the outcome our own kids seek today remains exactly the same as we sought at their same age.

But…..my sweet girl is approaching teen-hood with different tools in the toolbox.  We both wanted the same things at 14:  To be liked. To be kissed. To fit in.  Somewhere. Anywhere. To feel safe. To feel confident. To have our parents trust and respect our choices and privacy.  To not get in trouble or be grounded or frankly, caught when we did cross a line.

It is the right of passage to push boundaries at this age.  It is a healthy part of development that they do seek the edge, and it is our place as parents to teach coloring inside the lines.  We are both doing our part, but it isn’t easy.  Sometimes, it is damn hard.  And still no one offers me the handbook?  So I do the best I can.  Sometimes I get it right.  Other times, not so much.

So as parents, how do we keep them safe, instill confidence, ensure the toolbox stays within the lines and doesn’t place them in a social bullying situation that appears easier today with a click of the button in a world WE created?  I’ve often joked that my use of Breck hairspray likely contributed to global warming; but the internet offering opportunity for endless wonderful resources also offers endless new areas of temptation;  processed foods make life faster and easier, but perhaps not healthier (and Celiac disease more prevalent).  Friends of my generation, we created this world, and so as parents and consumers, we must face the darker side.  Our tool box has changed too.

There are no easy answers, but I do have to give my sweet girl the trust I wanted from my parents, and the resources and knowledge to feel confident, remain safe, and know she is unconditionally loved.  I trust her to make good choices.  And when we do not agree, there are, in fact, consequences. In our house, there are rights, and there are privileges.  They are very different.  No, we don’t always agree on the difference.

That however is the fun and balance and journey of this parent-teen relationship….seeking what works for us in 2015 with the toolbox we have today.

Cheers to our own children repeating the same phrase, “never do for a teenager that which they can do for themselves.’  The world will be different at that time, and so too their toolbox.

White lights,

Mel

“Mom, you just make it awkward.”

Ahhh, the wonders of the 14-year-old vernacular!  And just when I finally get that funny, “fierce” selfie thing down.

Keep in mind, I’m not anywhere near the track suit type of mini-van mama.  I like my boots over skinny jeans, a kick ass suit with a great pair of heels, my tattoos, MC Yogi, and a manual transmission, so to hear my girlie-girl and make-up-loving, fashionista tell me, “Mom, you make it awkward” is slightly disconcerting. In fact, together, we chalk-boarded our newly themed, IKEA style great room to compliment a rockin’ red couch and black/white polka dot rug just this week. No framed embroidery or large silver plated utensils on walls for us!  But I’m awkward?  Lol, I prefer her previous comment, “…you are limited edition..”. 🙂

So, with “limited edition” in mind, and in the spirit of another grand year of silliness in front of us, please enjoy some unshared ‘Murphy or Mel’ moments……

– My daughter needed some teeth pulled before the braces could be completed, so of course I encouraged her to place them under her pillow for the Tooth Fairy.  She rolled her eyes, but she is 14, and well, come on, needs cash.  Rushing out early and distracted the next morning, I completely failed in my role to call on the Tooth Fairy, and no cash was discovered.  Well, I wasn’t admitting fault, so I fixed the situation.  The second morning, I left a note, cash and signed the belated note, “Congrats…..love, E.B”.  Upon returning home, my daughter happily announced, “I’m happy for the cash, but the Tooth Fairy signed the note from the Easter Bunny.”

–  Regular gym girl for 10+ years and practicing yogini for over 12.  But last year, I found a way to sprain my ankle AT the gym AFTER the workout while walking DOWN the stairs.

–  Traveled to KY last year with teeth intact. (there is a sentence I never expected to type.) Needed a treat on the way out-of-town, and my love for the Bit O-Honey caught my eye.  Well, it also caught the top half of an entire molar, and so I left KY without all my teeth.  Fitting?  (Sorry, Zac and Alyssa. UK rocks. 🙂

–  Last year, the entire family traveled to Tahoe, CA for a week of skiing/boarding, skating and snow tubing. Finally my old travels offered a perk as my standing with Budget saved us.  I had pre-booked an SUV for eight days in Park City, UT.  (and yes, I asked permission before hugging Dan the Budget man after he fixed a Mel travel misadventure.)

–  Pumping gas then driving away while the hose is still attached does happen to real people you know.

–  Just today, while (not) speeding home from Chi-Town, I was singing (not loudly) to old school Maroon 5, and I got caught.  Not the, “I can fake it like I’m on the phone”, the “Look at her- she is belting it out stare”.  Again, teeth become an issue.  This trucker appeared to be missing several.  But the wave, priceless.

–  Why do people insist on texting me while they know I’m driving long distances?  I need reading glasses to see the type on my phone or computer, so I have to live with that darn dot that says, “open me” when I can’t while driving.  It is like the itch you can’t reach, right?

Perhaps I really am awkward.

Nope, just lucky to be ok with my quirkiness.

Cheers to the silliness, laughter, humility, grace both when the jump rope is up AND down, and being confident enough to laugh over my OCD for making the bed immediately following the alarm but rarely tightening a lid for anything in the fridge.  (come to think of it, there might be a blog for the opposing forces of my OCD and flakiness ….note to self.)

Namaste, Mel

p.s.  Teeth are an under appreciated part of the body.  Until they are missing, folks simply take them for granted.

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