Posts Tagged ‘teens


Mama Bear’s First Date

After updating my Facebook status with today’s bit of bitterness, I realized that I still am not ready to watch the news again.  I cannot talk about anything current if I am banning the news – which I am – so gotta talk about Mama Bear and Daughter Number One.

She went on her first date for Valentine’s Day.  I have anticipated this event, expecting to wait another year or two, but Number One has begun to date Mr. Wonderful.  My husband and I adore this kid; he golfs, skis, travels, ballroom dances, and has the most impeccable manners.  The manners have been impeccable since third grade when we met him.  He has also looked at Number One with sheer devotion since third grade.  Did I mention that he’s grown up to look like Christian Bale?  No mother could deny her child a budding romance with this young man, and I had no reason to.  Their match is a parent’s dream, other than the fact that they have not yet crossed the threshold of fifteen, which is why the young man’s dad arranged to drive them to and from the movie.

Enter Mama Bear.  I always think I am rational, but lately I have had to rethink everything, including my sanity.  It started with a phone call from Mr. Wonderful’s dad.  He wanted to check with me because he had been called away on business so he made arrangements for his close friend of over 20 years to drive the kids.  He made the arrangements, he said, because he didn’t want to deprive his son of the first date experience.  He felt it was important that he set a chivalrous standard for his son and ensure that the young man knew it was expected that he pick up his date.

It is evident that this child has been raised to be chivalrous.  The poor boy has run, on more than one occasion, from one end of the school to another to retrieve Number One’s books, violin, lunch box, or otherwise.  He always opens her car door and he greets me with a smile, look in the eye, and firm handshake.  Considering this example set over the past six years, I made the obvious assumption that this man had not made arrangements to ensure these teens had a date.  Instead, I was convinced that he made arrangements to sell them into a life of pornography.  I replayed our entire conversation again and again in my head until it became undeniable.  It never entered my mind that I read too much.

I hung up the phone and went back to my reading.  For a while.  It was only a matter of moments before I had unraveled his plan, so I got to work.  Thank goodness for the internet.  I discovered that Mr. Wonderful’s dad owns a publicly traded company – 10,000 shares issued.  See?  Obviously a bad man.  I read the articles of incorporation and discovered that his company is a subsidiary of a larger, international corporation.  A corporation that performs background checks.  I was convinced that he had something to hide.  Thanks to Google I confirmed the location of his company and the parent company, headquartered in Denver.  Both offices are in high traffic areas.  Definitely a front.  I zoomed in to look for the rear exits.  Found one!  I continued digging.  Board members.  I looked into each one and searched for any off-shore ties.  One of them has written papers on human resource issues.  Likely story.  They are surely practiced in the art of mind control, I determined.  I mulled over whether or not I could live with myself if I allowed my daughter to go on this date and something happened.  I imagined myself, depressed and swallowing everything in my medicine cabinet, unsuccessful in my own attempt on my life.  I imagined the ambulance coming, the neighbors watching.  Nosy neighbor down the street would be shaking her head.  This would be no way to go, with her shaking her head at me, so I went to my husband and explained to him that if Number One were to go on this date, she would be sold into sex slavery.  He tried to send me shopping.

I didn’t bite.  Instead, I spent the rest of the day steeped in worry.  Number One was unconcerned.  She had no first date jitters.  I asked her what she planned to wear and she said “this.”  That was right after she got up and put on jeans and a t-shirt.  I suggested a shower and a shirt with buttons.  Then I changed my mind.  Buttons?  What was I thinking??  Much easier to stay in a t-shirt than a shirt with buttons.

Finally the big moment came.  Mr. Wonderful showed up at the door.  He greeted us, then Number One, then Berlin (if you are not versed in my family tree, Berlin is the vivacious little sister in the story).  He told my husband that they would be seeing a two hour movie, probably two and a half with previews and he would have Number One home right afterwards.  My husband looked at me with that “don’t be crazy” look that I hate so much.  I barely noticed because I was getting my shoes on so I could follow them.  I waited for them to get halfway down the street, then made a break for my car.  Intercepted.  There was my husband, right in the middle of the hallway, waving my keys at me (I only have one car key since I got mugged while Christmas shopping).  He quickly stuffed the keys down his jeans, knowing I would let it rest.  The keys.  I let the keys rest right there.

And I waited.  For two hours and fifty-seven minutes I sat in the chair in my living room window.  Then she came in.  She was flushed and smiling and just beautiful, even in her jeans and t-shirt.  And she was safe.  This is the very moment we worked so hard to prepare for, stepping out into independence and having our complete trust.  It seems she is well prepared, too, but what we neglected was to prepare ME.  Nothing could have prepared me for the gripping terror that came from watching my heart walk out the door in the care of a neophyte.


Generation Hope

Today I turned my daughter over to the hallowed halls of our chosen high school.  Who could have expected this day would come so soon?  It couldn’t have been more than a year ago that I went head-to-head with her second grade teacher who made her scrub the bathroom during recess (she had splashed water while she washed her hands for lunch).  Normally the high school years bring waves of nervous laughter among rapidly-greying parents.  Not anymore.  I have been watching this generation carefully, making sure my daughter will find her place in the world and what I have learned certainly bucks tradition.  Of course, there are always exceptions.  In this case, they can be found loitering at the mall.  Overall, though, I look to this generation with anticipation and hope.  Most teens I see are willing to exchange a smile and they are very capable of carrying on an adult conversation.  When a teenager is at the counter at my favorite Target store or Subway or any of the other thousand chains I patronize, I can almost always count on friendly service regardless of whether the person is a boy or a girl. 

On a more personal level, though, I see the kids at my daughter’s school and church.  These kids genuinely care about each other and I don’t think that they could define catty.  They are intelligent in all matters intellectual and personal.  Most of these kids have defined qualities they are looking for in a mate.  They don’t date lightly, if at all.  Not only have they defined their future mates, but these teens have thoughtfully considered what their families will look like when they have them.  They understand that a fulfilling life is not a matter of luck, but rather a matter of purpose, and that is how they live.  Their purpose is not just personal, they all believe in the greater good.  This up and coming generation has no fear of being involved.  They understand what it is to support that which is bigger than them.  I see them, each with their pet cause, and it’s more than just lip service.  These kids work to make the world better already in their limited capacity as minors.  Each of them, one by one, is going to build a bright future from which we will all benefit. 

We parents may criticize the media, but I credit some of this optimism directly to them.  There was no Disney Channel when I was a teenager and somehow Disney and Nickelodeon have managed to hold the interest of these kids with their milquetoast offerings.  I am amazed that high school students are enjoying High School Musical and Camp Rock when I compare these movies to the ones we were watching.  Over the summer, I set out to have a great bonding time watching favorite movies from my teens with my daughter.  Um…Has anyone watched a little Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, or Pretty in Pinklately?  Not such wholesome fun.  We turned my favorites off at the second or third teenage panty shot and moved on to The Princess Diaries for a modernized movie night.  No wonder Generation X was a mess.  We were all latchkey children with unlimited access to all the drunken teen sex we could watch. 

And that, I think, is the key.  Generation X was the first generation to struggle.  We were not as successful as our parents, as exemplified in various statistics.  Teen drinking was at an all time high, as was teen pregnancy and, thusly, abortion.  There was renewed interest in recreational drugs, though I am uncertain if it truly rivals the baby boomers in the ’60’s.  It appeared that there was no hope for this generation to contribute to society via career or family.  But we turned it around.  We learned from our parents who, as baby-boomers, were the most self-absorbed generation.  They gave birth to the yuppie movement and the 3.2 children that came with it in their Prego strollers.  Then, they offered up housekeys so their careers were not interrupted by child-rearing.  They followed that up with BMW keys to soothe the guilt.  Then they split – baby boomers may not have invented divorce, but they certainly made it their own.  When we Gen-X’ers began having our own children, it didn’t take long to see the folly in our benefactor’s priorities.  We invested time in our children.  The emergence of women into the workplace grew the economy exponentially, but the Gen-X family model evolved along with it, putting dads into new household and parental roles.  Time spent together is precious and filled with laughing and fun as we see more and more leisure time (largely thanks to the hard work of the generation before us – it all works for the greater good).

Yes, the divorce rate is still high.  There are still teen pregnancies, and drugs and alcohol are still out there.  These are not the norm anymore, though.  Teens know that certain choices lead to certain destruction.  Finally, they believe it and act accordingly.  I am grateful.  Once a child hits her teens, the influence of her peers is greater than that of her parents.  Knowing that her friends are like-minded and have the world at their fingertips is Tylenol PM for the parent in me and for the future senior citizen that I am.

What’s here

SuzyJ’s Tweets

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.