Tag Archives: parenting teenagers

Missing my big eater

BfastMy daughter is a high school senior and is taking the SATs at this very moment. Last night, she asked me to get up early and make her breakfast before she left for the test. So I did. But sadly, the eggs weren’t fresh, the cheddar cheese was moldy, the milk was all gone, the yogurt was past its expiration date, the bananas were brown and mushy, the bread was stale, and even the jelly was yucky. I made a terrible smoothie with the expired yogurt, it was just awful. My daughter did not complain, but she didn’t eat much.

The problem lies with the absence of my son who is now in college. He helped us eat things up quickly and required that I shop every few days, if not every few hours. He was the one who was eager for my meals and kept me energized to stock and restock the kitchen. He even bought me a cool yogurt maker so we always had fresh yogurt. When his teenage appetite began to wane a little, he got a manual labor job that brought it back up to snuff. We miss him!

But there is hope. My daughter just got her license last week, so it’s time I send her to the grocery store. She’ll buy items of questionable nutritional value, I’m sure, but at least it will all be fresh. I’ll stay here, in my cozy home office, writing, designing, and enjoying my sweet freedom from all that tedious shopping. Besides, I never was good at it. I usually lost my grocery list by the time I reached the produce. Where do all those lost grocery lists go? For all the ones I’ve lost, I never found a list by someone else, stuck in between the cucumbers or among the soup cans. Often, I would arrive home without the very item that prompted the shopping trip in the first place. I suppose that’s why I had to go so often.

But now that is all behind me…well, not really. My daughter will be home any minute and will need a lunch and dinner packed for her day-long choral event and we don’t even have paper lunch bags. She will tell me she is too busy to shop, and frankly, she is. If I have time to blog, it means I have time to shop. Sigh. Maybe I’ll go to Trader Joe’s. At least they will serve me an itty bitty cup of coffee to enhance the experience.

Bad mother buys daughter a laptop

Butterfly imageNot everyone wants the latest and the greatest. I dare say many of us would like to put a hold on technology; would be happy to think that our computers and phones have arrived to their fullest magnificence and won’t ever need to be replaced.

My daughter loves her old laptop. It used to be mine, then my son’s, and finally hers. It gets incredibly hot within minutes, but she claims it warms up her bed and she likes it that way. A few keys don’t work—including the critical Command key—but she gets around it somehow. When sparks started flying out of her charger, threatening to burn the house down, I warned her that the days were numbered on that thing. She bought a cheap replacement charger online, but then came another problem: the screen went wiggy—there are red lines through everything—and there are no cheap fixes for a wiggy screen. No matter, she says; she is using it for homework, not watching videos.

But her birthday was around the corner. Surely, I thought, a new laptop should be the big ticket item. This is a no-brainer and a necessity, given all her college-level classes. I strategically wrapped up an artsy little chatska for her to open first. It read, “If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.” After unwrapping it, she asked if “Anon” meant “Anonymous,” and seemed somewhat happy. Then she opened her big present.

“I didn’t want a laptop,” she reminded me. “Yes,” I responded, “I know what you really wanted is a bunny rabbit, but you don’t need a bunny, you need a laptop.”

I’m not the kind of parent that strives to get everything on my kids’ wish lists for their birthdays. I’d rather prepare them for real life. But I’ve never been this far off. Fortunately, her brother bought her a Snuggie, which is almost as cozy as a bunny rabbit. She quickly took it out of its box, put it on, and wore it for hours even though the weather is still warm.

But the laptop remains in its box. I’m hoping today will be the day that she starts it up. I’m hoping she is so impressed with its speed and clarity, that she considers realigning her loyalties—and letting loose the butterflies.

Teenage ducks: A parent’s perspective

Teenage ducksMy two ducks have now reached their teenage years, and a few strong characteristics, similar to their human counterparts, have surfaced.

First of all, the ducks like to know you are there. Sometimes they even like to be watched. But they do not like to be followed—not at all, forget about it. If you try to follow them, they will pick up their pace. They may even flap, get some air, and try to escape. They will entirely forget that you are their greatest fan.

Secondly, they have started to produce amazing things. Well, for ducks, the eggs are it, but for teenage kids, their abilities are manifold and hold every bit of pleasure for their parents as the cream-colored egg miraculously produced every morning.

Similar to the first point, the ducks do not like to be threatened. They are aware, at this stage in their lives, just how threatening the world is, and they don’t need anyone making it worse. Take, for instance, the large feedbag I brought to the ducks today. The bag was almost empty, so rather than scoop out the food like I usually do, I brought the enormous bag into their pen and turned it upside down. This caused a great deal of squawking and fluttering about. Please, they were telling me, don’t upset us unnecessarily. You may be a nice human being, but you can still seem like a big scary person to us, so be more careful with what you throw around.

On a lighter note, teenage ducks want to be fed. And fed some more. Sadly, they forget to say thank you, but you love them anyway.

Lastly, ducks expect you to clean up after them, no matter how much mess they make. Actually, they don’t care about the mess. They figure if you care about it, you should take care of it. Thankfully, my teenagers are growing out of this phase, transitioning to true adulthood. My ducks, on the other hand, will duck responsibility indefinitely.

My daughter was a screamer

My daughter started walking at nine months. Then she started screaming. She would toddle into a room on her strong little legs and scream. Then she would go somewhere else in the house and scream. She wasn’t being belligerent or mean; she was screaming, that’s all.

Being a working mom with another toddler as well, I didn’t get a chance to research this. So many books for moms, but so little time when you’re just trying to survive.

The screaming started to get to me. Really started to get to me. One day—I remember it clearly—when I was standing by the kitchen counter, I stopped what I was doing and voiced a prayer. Although it was a statement, not a request, it had the humble sentiment, I suppose, of the first step of the AA program. It was simply this: Lord, I don’t know how much longer I can take the screaming.

The next day, my daughter started talking! As fast as she went from crawling to walking, she went from screaming to talking. That is when I learned that her screaming was her way of communicating before the words came. Oh, glorious words.

The timing, though, was also glorious. Right after my prayer. Such a simple prayer, but I knew immediately that it was heard. These very personal experiences may not mean much to others, but if faith were a muscle, mine got a little more sculpted after that.

Now my daughter is sixteen. And there’s a different kind of screaming in the house. Screaming by me, mostly. It’s not every day, but it’s often enough to wish for a better way to communicate. Time to invite God into the situation again and see what happens.