theorangeinkblot

Looking at life through orange colored glasses…

Archive for the tag “teenagers”

The End of An Era…

When I dropped off my daughter at school this morning I let out a breath I didn’t realize I had been holding.  Today is her last day of Middle School.  I feel like I should bake her a “you survived middle school” cake.   My daughter had a very mixed middle school experience which (like many others) included mean kids who said mean things sprinkled with an abundance of early teen drama.  But when I look at the kid who entered seventh grade compared to the one who is today finishing eighth I can tell you, she’s come a long way.

Even though I’m frustrated about some of the more negative aspects of her middle school experience, today, I primarily find myself feeling grateful. Education happens as much out of the classroom as it happens inside of it.  Part of the benefit of having forty minutes twice a day in the car with my daughter is that we have had a lot of time to talk.

Here are some of the important lessons my daughter has learned in middle school.

When you set a goal of learning how to “deal with difficult people” (as my daughter did this year) the universe sends you a lot of “difficult” people to practice on.  She is still practicing.  However, she is learning that sometimes it is important to call people out on their words and behaviors and other times it makes more sense to let it go and walk away. She has learned that sometimes people are “difficult” because they are hurting and others are just mean. She has learned that her choices go beyond making friends or enemies.  It is okay to have neutral relationships.

She has learned that sometimes when you tell the truth people will try to quiet you.  Tell the truth anyway.  My daughter was criticized quite a bit in middle school for her “radical honesty.” When I pressed the administration for more information they said that she wasn’t being mean or saying anything that was untrue but expressing honest thoughts that were making other people feel uncomfortable. One example of her radical honesty turned out to be telling visiting students the truth about her experience at the small private school which meant she had perhaps become a bit of a marketing problem. My daughter has learned that she has no obligation to make herself smaller or to lie to make others feel more comfortable.  She has some pretty important things to say.  Good luck trying to stop her.

 

18620366_216075162239581_1825342389076944715_n.jpg

Going out in style on the last day of Middle School.

Finally, she has learned, when you have a group of loyal friends who have your back, you can survive almost anything that middle school will throw at you. I am so grateful that my daughter found a group of friends who have really stood by her.  They have shut down gossip about her on days she was absent and they have stood up for each other, particularly when some of the boys have made mean or inappropriate comments.

My favorite story she has come home with is this one:

One of the boys in my daughter’s class told her friend that her bra strap was showing and it was “distracting” him. The four girls, in unison, said, “So, don’t look.” So, the boy tried to explain: this girl was more attractive, more developed than the other girls in the class and so he felt it was beyond his control to not look and therefore he was “distracted.” My daughter, in all of her radically honesty, called the boy out.  “Is it more or less distracting” she asked, “then when you and the other boys stick your hands down your pants during class to shift your private parts?” (Drops mic, walks away.)

I used to worry about my daughter.  I mean, she’s my daughter so I’ll always worry about her to some extent.  But I don’t worry about her the way I used to. She is gaining self-confidence, finding her voice, and figuring out how to put herself out in the world in a way that is authentic to her.  She has learned that she can endure but that she can also set her own boundaries. She is learning that she has the same right to exist as everybody else and she won’t apologize for taking up her space on this planet.

If you ask my daughter about her middle school experience, she will probably focus on some of the more negative experiences she has had.  I am writing this so when she looks back later I can remind her of how much she grew as a person during these tumultuous two years and because I have never been so proud of all she has accomplished.

 

 

Advertisements

Please Stop Expressing your Condolences that I have a Teenage Daughter.

I met a new neighbor yesterday.  Upon hearing that I have a teenage daughter, she replied, “I’m sorry.”

This happens quite frequently.  Someone asks me how old my children are and when I mention my teenage daughter the response is often, “My condolences,” or “I’m sorry,” or “Can I get you a glass of wine?”

I’m writing this today to ask of you: please stop expressing your condolences that I have a teenage daughter. I’m not the least bit sorry or upset about it.

Yes, she sometimes rolls her eyes or uses “that tone.” Occasionally, when I ask her to help me to unload the dishwasher she replies, “No thanks, I’m good.” My daughter some times does these things, but these things do not define her. Look past the occasional eye rolls, dramatic interludes, and the ear buds that seem to have taken up permanent residence in her ears and you will see that my teenage daughter is not someone who needs apologizing for.  She is, in fact, nothing short of amazing.

Diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in first grade, my now 14-year-old is one of the bravest and strongest people I know.  Every morning, she gets out of bed knowing that at some point during the day she will need to battle an inner demon and she knows there is a chance she won’t win.  Yet, every morning, she gathers her courage, puts on her emotional armor, and goes to school.  Do you remember middle school? Not exactly a nurturing haven of emotional safety nets (even at her tiny private school there is a fair amount of middle school drama and kids who say mean things).  Nevertheless, she persists.

My teenage daughter is fierce.  She is a self-proclaimed feminist and social justice warrior who is forging her own path in the world.  She has relevant and informed opinions about issues impacting our town, our country, and our planet. She will stand up for people if she thinks they are being treated unfairly – even if they are someone my daughter considers to be, in her words, “a butt.”

My teenage daughter is developing a strong sense of self. She has no interest in wearing something because someone else is wearing it and, so far, she thinks peer pressure is “stupid.” She is authentic and real and won’t apologize for being an independent thinker or outspoken young lady.  She is unapologetically her own person and we encourage her to be just that.

My teenage daughter is interesting.  She reads books and asks questions and is curious about the world.  And yes, occasionally, halfway through my answer to a question she has just posed to me she will completely stop listening. She is, after all, still a teenager.  She is still learning.  But I’m an adult and I’m still learning too.  Sometimes, I roll my eyes and use “that tone,” and overreact to a frustrating but inconsequential situation.  Where do you suppose they learn that behavior to begin with?

It seems to me that women already apologize far more than necessary, sometimes, merely for existing.  Do we really need to exacerbate that problem by apologizing for teenage girls even being a thing? Again, I can’t speak for anybody else’s teenage daughter but I suspect that if you look past the eye rolls, and the obnoxious tone of voice and the drama that sometimes accompanies them you will find that there is a lot of complex, beautiful, and amazing stuff going on right under the surface.

So, if I mention that I have a teenage daughter, ask me how she’s doing or what she’s involved with or what her opinion is on a $15 minimum wage (she does actually have an opinion on that) but please, do not apologize.

 

Big Time Rush = Big Time Trip Down Memory lane

My older daughter turned 9 last week and as her birthday present I took her last night to see her favorite band, Big Time Rush, in concert. In case you do not have a child in the tween to teen age range, to understand Big Time Rush, imagine ‘The Monkees’ for today’s teeny bopper generation. The band was formed as part of the Nickelodeon show of the same name, a show about 4 friends from Michigan who form a band and move to L.A. They sing all original songs which apparently gained enough popularity to release an album, and send the band out on tour.

The band is made up of James, Logan, Carlos, and Kendall (in that order in the below picture taken from the Nickelodeon website).

Image

Each guy has been assigned their own personality trait so there’s someone for everyone to crush on. James is the “hot” one (note the totally amazing hair), Logan is the “smart” one, Carlos is the “funny” one, and Kendall is the “boy next door” type. Since I have always been a sucker for a guy who can make me laugh, I have to say Carlos is my favorite. If I were 20 years younger his goofy smile would be plastered all over my bedroom walls.

The last time I went to a concert filled with screaming teenagers, I was one of those screaming teenagers. So I was curious to see if anything had changed in the world of ‘boy bands that make teen-aged girls swoon.’ Little has changed. From the over priced merchandise, enthusiastic shouts of “Marry me, James!” and the intricately decorated “BTR Rules!” posters (complete with blinking LED lights) to the many slightly amused yet slightly terrified parental chaperones, it could have just as easily been a NKOTB concert from my teeny bopper glory days. The only difference I noted was the use of social media in getting the concert goers pumped up before the show. The kids could tweet from their cell phones and their messages would then appear on the jumbo vision screen, and the Big Time Rush website.

Luckily, my own daughter has not quite reached the celebrity crush phase- she was actually there because she likes the music (and the TV show) but there was plenty of hormone induced screaming to go around. I have never been so happy to have ear plugs, and I made a few friends by handing out extra pairs of ear plugs to extremely grateful parents.

The four guys pulled off the show with a fearless adrenaline fueled energy that would make even the most seasoned parent cringe. The set was built of scaffolding, steep ramps, firefighter style sliding poles, and of course, had a trampoline at center stage. Every time they bounced, flipped, or somersaulted from one side of the stage to the other, I said a silent prayer for their safety.

There were the prerequisite fireworks and other pyrotechnics, several costume changes, and tons of cheesy boy band choreography. But my favorite part of the concert by far, was when the band pulled two girls from the audience on stage and serenaded them.

The girls looked like they were about fourteen, give or take a year, and they had two totally different reactions. One girl looked as if she had been transported to her own personal fantasyland. She had a dreamy look in her eyes and leaned her head on Kendall’s shoulder for the entire time five minutes she was up there. This was her moment, and she was milking it for all it was worth. When Kendall asked her how she was feeling, she blurted out a gushy, “I love you!!” I could almost feel her trying to memorize what every second felt like so she could visit her new happy place whenever she chose.

The other girl could not stop shaking with nervous excitement. Her legs were perpetually bouncing and she alternated between hysterical crying and hysterical laughter. Half the time she was biting her nails and when Logan took her hand in his, I thought her eyes were going to pop out of her head. I am honestly surprised that she maintained consciousness through the entire experience.

I cannot imagine either of these girls having a more exciting moment in their young lives. Which begs the question, what do you do when your life peaks at 14? They are now the envy of their peers, and everything they experience from here on out will be compared to that moment. Those are hard expectations to meet going forward.

All in all, the whole concert experience was a little surreal. I was instantly transported back to my fourteen year old self. My celebrity crush was Kirk Cameron- I had 174 posters of him on my bedroom walls, ceiling, and furniture. He didn’t sing or dance, but I thought he was totally dreamy. What I would have done to have had five minutes to lean my head on Kirk Cameron’s shoulder. What can I say, you dream the dream.

I laughed at those girls last night, but only because I remember feeling and acting the exact way they were feeling and acting. I was excited for them, knowing that they were creating memories that they will relive twenty years from now when they take their daughters to see whoever the teen heart throbs are in 2032.

Image

Post Navigation