My Tattooed Teenager

November 8, 2013 § 16 Comments

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She’d been asking for years.  My firstborn, with the red hair and creamy skin, wanted a tattoo.  For years she’s been asking.

The child who, if she could, would paint her room a different color every other month.  The child who, if her parents could, would ask them to rearrange the furniture in her room every other week.  The child who, as a pre-teen, declared matter-of-factly, “I require constant change.”  The undeniable implication was, “Is that so wrong?  Is that so difficult?  Why is nobody accommodating me???”

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The Plan B Pill: If It Were MY Daughter…

June 22, 2013 § 4 Comments

Plan B pill

…I’d want Plan B to be available over the counter.

I say this realizing there are great moral complexities involved here.  I’ve thought about it a lot regarding under-age girls seeking abortion.  When it comes to abortion, I ask myself, “Would I want to be notified if it were my daughter?  Would I want the doctor to insist on my consent if it were my daughter?  My husband’s consent?  If my daughter was 15?  What about if my daughter was 13? 12?”  Of course the answer to all of these questions is “Yes.”  While most parents I know would also answer “yes” to these questions, I realize there are girls who aren’t living in healthy families.

I also, however, have done everything I know how – used everything in my parental arsenal – to make it clear to my daughter (and sons) that when they are in trouble of ANY nature, we are their allies.  Not their crutches.  Not their protectors.  Not their enablers.  Not their shields from consequences.  Their allies.  We know more, we’ve lived longer, we have better access to resources, etc., etc., etc.  “We will ALWAYS be prouder of you for calling/telling us you’re (insert a stupid/dangerous/against-the-rules situation here) and you need help than we will be mad at you for having found/gotten yourself into (insert stupid/dangerous/against-the-rules situation here) to begin with.”

So far, this has served us fairly well.  We’re not delusional – we assume there are still plenty of stupid/dangerous/against-the-rules situations they have not told us about, and will be in the future.  There have been times, however, when we’ve gotten calls from them.  And as strange as it sounds to say, I hope we continue to get those calls.  I’d rather get calls from them than from the police or the hospital.  This is what we have hammered home, and hopefully has set the tone for the basis of trust and confidence they have in us.

I hope this would extend, for my kids, to sex and unwanted pregnancies.  In an ideal world, they’d come to us first.  In a slightly less ideal world, they’d go to a doctor first.  In an even less ideal world, they’d have their friend drive them to a drugstore to buy Plan B, also known as the “morning after” pill.  But in a world I’d consider unacceptable, they would have no access to Plan B.  And then, once a pregnancy results, they’d have no access to Planned Parenthood.   Safe abortion would be hard to come by, and god forbid, they’d seek a back alley.

Just because I think I’ve done a good enough job making my own kids comfortable coming to us with their problems and mistakes, doesn’t mean they would.  Just because I wish all kids felt comfortable going to their parents doesn’t mean they do.

What of the kids whose parents aren’t there for them?  What of the girls who’ve been raped and whose parents would throw them out of the house for being a slut in their eyes?  What of the girls whose fathers are womanizers themselves, but would beat their daughters if they got pregnant?  What of the daughter of a prominent family that cares more about outward appearances than helping their kid?  Just because my daughter is not in one of those families doesn’t negate the fact that other daughters are.

Plan B (and even more medically significant, abortion) is something of which I hope my daughter wouldn’t avail herself without my knowledge. If, however, my daughter is in a situation where she is too afraid/embarrassed/shocked/traumatized to come to us first, all the MORE reason I would want safe emergency contraceptive (and safe prenatal care or abortion) available to her.  And if I want it for her, how can I not want it for those daughters who are less fortunate than she?

 

This post originally published at The Broad Side.

Image via The Moderate Voice

Happy Mother’s Day!

May 11, 2013 § 12 Comments

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Here’s why I love this comic strip very much.

One might read this and think its creators are saying, “Damn teenagers.  They have no vocabulary.  They never talk to us.  They never TELL us anything.”

I see something completely different in this comic strip.

1.  Teenagers are moody.

2.  Teenagers have trouble figuring out what’s bothering them.

3.  Even if they know what’s bothering them, they have trouble articulating it.

4.  Parents should keep their questions simple.  Like, “Trouble?”

5.  Teenagers still need shoulders and hugs, even if their arms hang limp at their sides when their heads are on your shoulder while you’re hugging them.

6.  Teenagers still need their parents to say “Poor Baby,” sometimes.

7.  What parents think is the start of a conversation is often what the teenager thinks is the end of one.

8.  Parents need to do less than they think to be of help to their kids.  I mean, look at this comic.  All the mom says is, “Trouble?”  and  “Poor Baby,” and the teen is smiling and eating an apple again.

9.  As with so many things in life, less is more.

10.  I need to join a chapter of Overanalyzers Anonymous.

11.  Teenagers need their parents.  And so do certain 43-year-olds who live in Baltimore.

Have a beautiful and easy Mother’s Day, from everyone here at The Worthington Pos!t (*cough* okay, it’s just me – I’m the only one here *cough*)

Brave New World of Parenting

February 19, 2013 § 34 Comments

I am so proud of my kids.  Most people are proud of their kids, but this week, I feel especially proud.

My husband and I did something very scary this weekend.  We left the kids home by themselves overnight.  It was my daughter’s idea.

Now, those of you who have declared us delusional and insane, please allow me to explain how this situation evolved.

My parents, incredibly generous souls that they are, have in the last few years taken a new approach to birthdays and anniversaries.  Once a year, between my sister’s birthday and mine, they treat us and our husbands to dinner and tickets to a Broadway show.  This covers all four of our birthdays and our two anniversaries.  It is a real treat for us, as we sisters and our men are really never able to double date – just the grown-ups.  They live in New York, we’re in Baltimore, and when visits happen, they’re entire-family-style.

This year, my daughter launched a gentle protest.  She has a job, likes to sleep late in her own bed on the weekends, and didn’t feel like being schlepped up to NY so her parents and aunt and uncle could go out.  She’s 16, one of our sons is 14, and the other son is 9.  They all love seeing their NY family, but she was angling to stay home.

“I’d arrange all my rides myself – to and from work.  If I made any plans, I would take care of finding transportation.  You wouldn’t have to worry about any of it.”  Ya know, except for the worrying about it that I ‘d normally do if I was 200 miles away.  Older son is catching wind of this, and starting to like the idea.  I mean, if his sister wasn’t going, maybe he could stay home, too – he won’t admit it, but he likes family visits more when she’s around.  Then came the potential clincher.  “Think about it – we could take care of Leo (9YO) and you guys could have a grown-up weekend without the kids!”  Oooooooh, she’s a sly one, she is.

We said we’d think about it.  We mulled.  We discussed.  We asked Leo if he would rather come with us or stay home if the big kids were allowed to stay home.  He said he’d rather stay home.  Truthfully, we felt if Leo stayed home, there were actually FEWER chances of irresponsible behavior on the part of the older kids.  They really adore him and take great care of him if we’re not around.  I consulted my parents about this potential arrangement.  My father would give Emma the keys to a new Lexus if he could, but my mother is a little more reserved in what she thinks is okay to allow the kids to do.  So, when SHE said she thought with the right preparation and precautions, it would be fine, I exhaled and the deal was done.  “But I want TO GET CREDIT for this, got it???  Your kids OWE ME.”  “I promise, Mom, they will know of your part in this,” I assured her.

We prepared them ad nauseum.  We put safety nets in place.  We established simple and hard and fast rules, like the boyfriend couldn’t come over after work, the garage door had to stay closed, no candles, GPS on their phones must be ON at all times, no word of it on any social media, etc.  We enlisted a few of our neighbors and a close friend to keep their cell phones on in the event of a medical or safety emergency.  We advised the neighbors to keep their eyes and ears open for smoke, parties, roaming zoo animals, anything that might seem out of place in our tiny neighborhood with houses very close to one another.  They agreed, and even spoke some encouraging words about how mature our kids were, and they weren’t worried.

So, after breakfast hugs and squeezes and warnings and copies of instructions and phone numbers strategically placed in practically EVERY ROOM OF THE HOUSE, Dave and I got into the car and drove off.  We couldn’t believe it.  We were really at the stage where we could go away for a night?  Birds chirped, holding the ends of rainbows in their beaks, leading the entire way up the New Jersey Turnpike.  We didn’t even double to check to see if the kids were with us when we left the rest stop.  We were pretty okay with this, despite the slight, nagging fear that the house would look like this when we came home:

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We made random contact with the kiddos a couple of times, knew Emma got safely to work and back, texted with Nicky about the pancakes he was making Leo for dinner, and knew when they were all home for the night.  My parents even joined us for dinner, so it was a rare TRIPLE date.  I don’t think that has happened for 17 years.  After dinner, we saw “Book of Mormon” and laughed and laughed.  Spoke to the kids in the morning, grabbed bagels and took off for home.

It worked!  We pulled it off!  The kids pulled it off!  They were fine, didn’t miss us, and barely noticed when we walked through the door.  They noticed the Brooklyn bagels we left on the counter, but otherwise, it was as if we never left.  We congratulated ourselves, and patted the kids on the back for being so mature, responsible, and trustworthy.  They’re growing up.  So are we.

(P.S. Then later that night I got into bed at midnight and got a text from Emma saying she needed a ride home from a party that was being busted up by the cops and she was cooperating with the cops but she couldn’t leave until they spoke to me and when I got there and she blew zeros on the breathalyzer they let her go and I told her ass she was lucky she didn’t get a citation and we gave her a painful lecture at 1 a.m. and then I got into bed at 2 am and then at 3:30 am Leo came into our room and threw up.  The end.)

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