I’m not an astronomer or an accountant, but I think I’ve discovered a black hole, and my money is slowly and methodically being sucked into this abyss.
It wasn’t noticeable before … $5 here, $10 there, $20 …
Although it seems to have just formed during the past year, it’s getting stronger by the week.
I fondly refer to this vacuum as ”teenager,” more specifically “Katie.”
I ration the money a little at a time, and I hold her accountable for how she spends it.
Her dad’s solution: Get a job.
My response: Just keep up the good grades.
For now, I’ll keep opening my wallet a little at a time and hope the gravitational pull from this celestial phenomena doesn’t drain all my money.
– Linda Lynn
There’s the old joke when a 16-year-old gets a driver’s license that everyone better “watch out.” It’s usually followed by a laugh that the young driver doesn’t really appreciate.
Well, today my “baby” got her driver’s license. I’m sure she’ll hear plenty of remarks, some in fun, some congratulatory.
But, for my husband and me, it’s scary.
As I said, she’s our “baby.” She will always be, no matter how old she gets.
Lacking the mileage of an experienced driver, she isn’t as quick to react. And, like any driver, she can make mistakes.
After riding with her the other night, there had been a discussion of my hesitation when I told her whether a lane was clear. After we were home, and we’d destressed a bit, I sat down with her.
“The decisions you make when you’re driving are life and death decisions,” I told her. I didn’t like having the conversation, but it’s exactly what every driver needs to be told.
I remember when I first got my license, and I’m sure my driving wasn’t perfect. If it had been, my mother wouldn’t have been applying the invisible brake on her side of the car every time she rode with me.
Now, I seem to be pressing on the invisible brake when I’m in the passenger’s seat. It’s annoying to my daughter, but it’s just a reaction on my part.
Although we’re still not ready to let go and give her full reins of the car, I know this rite of passage will be helpful in the future. Those early morning band rehearsals, trips to the store for last-minute items, meeting friends … these are all reasons that another driver in the family could prove useful.
Friends and family also are encouraging. They’ve experienced first-hand how it made their schedules a little more manageable.
I’m not sure we’re ready, but she is. She is moving forward, growing.
I just want her to keep in mind the responsibility she carries with her every time she gets behind the wheel of a car. My baby’s in that car.
We’re in hard economic times in case you haven’t heard.
My husband and I talk openly in our house about our finances, and, so, little ears are always listening. Our discussions are generally that our bills need to be paid or that we’re paying out more than we’re bringing in, at least some months.
We’re not destitute, and we haven’t gotten down to “our last $5,” a story my mom used to tell us kids.
Both my parents lived during the depression, so they had plenty of stories to tell. And, although they lived comfortably when I was a child, they were never ones to spend hard-earned money on needless luxuries. Up until my teen years, I thought we were about to go broke, since they always talked about not knowing if they were going to have enough money to get by. My mom would clip coupons and shop three different grocery stores in town just to get the best deals. They rarely bought new clothes. They made a garden. They didn’t recycle, because they would reuse containers and bags, instead.
They were smart. I mistook it for being nearly poor.
So, when my 11-year-old daughter hears my husband and I talk about money, she has a unique way of processing the situation. She has declared we are never to go out to eat again. (We did last night.) And, instead of spending money on school-sponsored trips (for her sister), we should save that money.
And, sometimes, when she’s been thinking just a little too much, she pops out the question: “Momma, are we going to be hobos?” or “Momma, am I going to be a hobo?”
I envision an older man in tattered clothes hopping in a railcar to travel across the country or maybe an “Andy Griffith” episode about a hobo who talked Opie and his pals into being like Robin Hood and robbing from the rich to give to the poor (in this case, the hobo).
Still, my daughter hasn’t totally rejected the possibilities of such an occupation. Sometimes, when she’s worrying about school or is stressed by something kids stress about, she’ll get to thinking about a life of no responsibilities and declares, “I wish I were a hobo!”
– Linda Lynn
My daughter Kaci really wants a pug. She is convinced somehow she is going to get one for her birthday or Christmas.
I know this, but it’s not something I think about every day. We have a lab already, and he’s a handful.
So, this weekend while I was working at the newspaper to catch up on some tasks, Kaci passed by her daddy’s home computer (he works at The Oklahoman, too) and she saw an e-mail exchange between us.
In the subject line, my husband had typed: “bring home a bulldog”
My reply was ”Yes-sir.”
Kaci was ecstatic! Momma was bringing home her pug!
But sometimes children misunderstand what seems obvious to adults.
If you’ve ever been around a newspaper and heard the lingo, you would know a “bulldog” at The Oklahoman is an early edition of the Sunday paper that customers can buy on Saturdays. Some readers like to read the stories or clip their coupons and see the ads early. My husband wanted to preview his Outdoors page.
But Kaci knew she was getting a puppy.
Alas, when I came home empty-handed, Kaci was disappointed.
It reminded me of when I was little and I had spyed a camera box in the top of my mom’s closet. I just knew I was getting a camera for Christmas.
The gifts were opened, and no camera!
My mom then explained the box was from her old camera.
Yes, I was disappointed, too. … Almost 40 years later, like mother, like daughter.
My mom, “Gwennie,” comes into town about twice a year from Connecticut. While here, she usually packs in a few trips to the local country western outfitters, a visit to a BBQ joint and, of course, enjoys some Mexican food.
For putting up with the craziness her trips usually entail, I’m entitled to some gift … usually of the purse variety, and of a brand I wouldn’t be able to afford for myself.
So there I am last week, searching for my perfect new bag. Alas, I find it but the store is down to two.
Can they hold it for me? Of course – but only until the end of the day … a full week before my mom’s arrival.
Can she charge it over the phone? Of course! So my mom ensures I have my dream bag and charges it over the phone for me. Here’s how that went …
Saleslady: “Ma’am, would you like us to send the bag home with your daughter or would you like it held in customer service until your arrival?”
Me: Super excited to take home my bag.
My mom: “Leave it customer service. She can wait.”
Me (to the saleslady): “Is she serious?”
Saleslady (to my mom): “Ma,am, are you serious?”
My mom: “Yes. I’m absolutely serious. Please box it up and we’ll pick it up Friday.”
After the disbelieving salesgirl shared this with her fellow salesgirls and they all expressed their sympathy for me, I called my mom back and asked “how could you??”
The explanation is this:
My mom wanted us to go pick it up together. She knew how much I wanted it and she wanted to be there to see my excitement to pick it up. She didn’t want it to be “old hat” by the time she arrived a week later. Part of the fun in getting for me was seeing my reaction to having it in my possession.
Three years ago, I wouldn’ t have had an ounce of understanding about this, and thought it was just plain cruel. But being a mom, one of the greatest joys I have is seeing my boy happy. I treasure those moments – the ones of utter surprise, of excitement, of bliss. And I probably will still treasure them when he’s my age. I guess some things never change.
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor
My oldest child just graduated eighth grade. Yes. I said graduated.
Had there been caps and gowns, my high school graduation would have been dwarfed by the fanfare at Katie’s last day in middle school.
Don’t get me wrong. This was an important achievement in her school career, but after sitting through two hours of musical performances, speeches, awards, name announcements and a slideshow that followed the kids from babyhood to their teen years, I was a little tired.
I didn’t cry. I did enjoy the moment. I filmed it, took pictures, everything you do at a graduation. But I fear high school graduation.
A friend of mine suggested the attention the students were already getting might detract from upcoming ceremonies. I’m not sure. I just thought it might be a little “over the top” for this age.
Or is it simply a celebration? We should celebrate the little accomplishments, the medium accomplishments and the big accomplishments in our children’s lives.
After the ceremony, Katie and her friends wandered the halls, seeking out teachers, saying goodbye. Then, mothers and daughters enjoyed lunch together …. Then, the girls went to their elementary school to reminisce with grade school teachers. Later … a party, a sleepover.
I’m sure they were all exhausted.
Now comes high school.
– Linda Lynn
At what age should my daughter be allowed to become a mallrat or venture out on her own?
This week, Katie, my 14-year-old, asked if she and a friend could be dropped at the mall on a Friday evening to see a movie. This is not the first time this discussion has occurred at our house. And, once before, my husband did let her see a movie with friends without supervision, but it was during the day.
The first time I let Katie even walk the mall alone with friends was at her 14th birthday party. But I stayed and pushed her little brother around in a stroller while they “did their own thing.”
Skenazy encourages parents to let their children roam and experience new things by themselves, empowering them to be individuals and not live in fear.
I admit this is just the opposite of how I continue to raise my children. I know I’m “too” protective by some standards. Yes. I used to roam all over our 200-acre farm when I was younger. I would go fishing and exploring by myself. And, although it wasn’t my choice, at 14 years old I walked the streets of Washington, D.C., when I was separated from my Close Up tour group. The next day, about five of us (without adults) rode the subway and toured our nation’s well-known monuments and museums.
I loved the experience.
So, why do I try so hard to shelter my children from their own adventures?
I live in fear of ”what if.” I read the newspaper. I watch the news shows. And I’m appalled and scared by what might could happen.
Is there maybe a happy medium? But what would that be?
Share with me your stories of letting your children experience independence. Do you let them walk alone to school, the grocery store or snowcone shack? What are your limits on your children’s independence?
– Linda Lynn
How do you know when to say no and when to say yes?I wish I had a crystal ball when it comes to answering my children’s questions. After three kids, you would think I could make decisions in seconds.
Instead, I labor over whether I should let them spend the night at a friend’s house, go shopping without me, or attend a concert or some other freedom-enhancing activity.
If the girls ask me if they can have ice cream or my son says, “O-Gurt,” because he wants a second helping of yogurt, those are pretty easy decisions – not life-changing. If it’s the wrong answer … well, there really is no wrong answer to these questions.
But, when my 14-year-old asked me this week if she could attend a concert with a friend, this was a big deal to me. And, while I don’t want to ”ruin her life” or be ”too overbearing,” it’s my job to protect her. God gave me that job, and I take it seriously.
My first response to her when she couldn’t tell me where the concert was planned, was “no.” Well, that didn’t go over too well. She was obviously not happy and expressed that unpleasantness quite well.
Not expecting her reaction, I thought I would dig some more. Yea! I at least found out the name of the group. Progress.
When met with more defensiveness, I said no again.
You would have thought I would have stopped there, but something told me she really wanted to go to this event.
Then, I went to the Internet, searched the location of the concert (Yes! There really was a concert at a well-established venue), looked into our newspaper’s archives for stories written about the event (Yes! More information – and written by a friend!!!), and then I talked to the reporter the next day and was assured this was going to be a really exciting concert event that would be good for my daughter.
Finally, I spoke to my daughter’s friend’s mother who assured me she would be attending with the girls.
Then, my answer was “yes.”
Whew! …. Making decisions on candy and “O-Gurt” are a lot less stressful!
– Linda Lynn
This is my scheduled posting for the week and it is late because there has been so much going on this week. However, I did manage to see the latest episode of “Secret Life” on Monday and it was probably one of the better ones.
For those late the game, “Secret Life” is a television show airing on Monday evenings on the ABC Family Channel. It chronicles the life of a pregnant teenager named Amy Juergens, her family and friends.
In this week’s episode, Adrian’s father talks bluntly with her about Ricky. Adrian is the show’s “bad girl,” so to speak, but viewers have been able to see what her home life is like and exactly why she is the way she is. Ricky is the show’s “bad boy,” for lack of a better term. He’s the father of the Amy’s baby.
Adrian’s father, who just recently came into her life, is an assistant district attorney who wants to help his daughter get her life on track. She makes excellent grades but has been labeled the school slut for good reason.
Her father tells her that Ricky is just using her, having sex with her at night while taking Grace, a Christian girl, out on actual dates.
It’s the classic “hook-up” scenario that teens will tell you about if you ask them.
The show has been criticized for stereotyping the characters, and yet we know that so many teen girls are looking for love and settling for sex, then get hurt when the guy discards them and moves on.
I think the straight talk that Adrian’s dad gave her was this episode’s main message.
We’ll have to see if she takes his advice and leaves Ricky alone.
Meanwhile, Ricky is having lots of trouble of his own. His dad is back from prison and there’s some mystery about why he was in prison in the first place.
Even if the plot keeps twisting (this is TV, OK?), I still see the show as a good way for parents to open up some interesting (and hopefully meaningful) discussions about relationships and sex.
My 14-year-old started reading the Twilight book series sometime last year and got hooked. “A book series on vampires?” I thought. “Should I question what she’s reading?” But one of her middle school friends just loved the books.
And, when “Breaking Dawn,” the fourth book, was due out in bookstores she could hardly wait.
Another friend bought her a T-shirt with a verse something like: “The forbidden fruit is always the sweetest.” … I made her exchange it for a different shirt. I couldn’t help think that the T-shirt was just a bit inappropriate for a young teen. And, when I walked into Hot Topic, the hip store with body piercing studs, tons of scary images on T-shirts and lots of black – It was like the anti-Claire’s of the mall – I couldn’t help feeling just a little conspicuous and a lot uncomfortable. But I wanted her to at least get something toned down.
For her birthday, she received more Twilight stuff – a really cute zip-up hoodie, but, still, I teetered on the edge of whether this was a good thing.
Then comes the movie. My 28-year-old niece and her mother suggests we all go together. Me? me? Maybe I can get out of this. But it sounded fun just because I would be with my two sisters and their daughters and my daughter. OK. I’ll try it.
When the previews began, the movies were gruesome, scary films. Oh, no! What have I done?! I’ve just brought my teenaged daughter to a slasher, blood-sucking vampire movie! My older niece who is in college even covered her eyes.
Then, the movie started ….. And I loved it! I plan to read the books.
Now, I’ve seen it twice. Some friends have seen it three, four and five times! These are women my age!
Although my husband is tired of me raving about the movie, my friends aren’t. He made the comment that I was acting just like a “14-year-old.”
Well, my daughter might disagree. But there’s worth in finding an interest in something your daughter likes. She doesn’t seem to want to talk about it with me. She’d rather talk about it with her friends and cousins.
So, I’ll just talk about it with the rest of my “14-year-old-going-on-45″ friends.
– Linda Lynn