Category Archives: Teenagers

Trick-or-treat! Smell My Heat! Give Me Something Good Or I’ll Tag Your @#$%& House!

Teen trick-or-treaters

When I was a kid, you pretty much stopped trick-or-treating sometime in junior high (what they now call middle school). Trick-or-treating was for little kids. Big kids went to parties. And as much as teenagers might like to have a bag full of Kit Kats and Snickers, the humiliation of being teased was not worth the free sugar high.

My daughter Emily is now 15, and Halloween is still her favorite holiday. Today she brought home four of her friends from high school. Were they going to a party? No. Tonight they’re going trick-or-treating.

When Emily was a toddler, trick-or-treating in her blue and white checkered dress and sparkly ruby slippers, and carrying a stuffed Toto in a basket, our neighbors loved to open the door and greet her.

“Look! It’s Dorothy! Can you click your heels three times and say, There’s no place like home?”

I’m sure they thought they were being clever, but we probably heard that line 20 times each Halloween.

Today Emily is 5’7” and has curves like Marilyn Monroe. This year she’s wearing black leather from head to toe in her authentic Cat Woman costume. Her friends are dressed as Tonks from Harry Potter, a pumpkin, Rorschach from Watchmen, and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. I asked them why – if they are clearly no longer children – do they continue to trick-or-treat.

“It’s fun,” I thought they’d say. Instead:

“It’s the only time that we can dress up and act like children and still have it be socially acceptable.”

Emily and her friends go to a rigorous humanities magnet school, so an answer like this one is not so surprising.

Halloween is no longer just about the candy. Particularly in Emily’s case, candy is a bit of a hindrance. She has type 1 diabetes and can’t have a bite without an insulin injection. Most of her friends will pop a few pieces, but they plan to give the bulk of their booty to their younger siblings.

They also talked about selling it. I think they were kidding.

These teenagers love dressing up in costumes and traveling in a group. And it’s nostalgic for the good old days a decade earlier when they wanted to hold Mom or Dad’s hand when they crossed the dark street trick-or-treating, even when there weren’t any cars coming.

I’m embellishing this last sentence. I guess I’m nostalgic for the good old days. At least my 5-year old still holds my hand. And my 10-year old lets me trick-or-treat with her for a couple of blocks. Then she ditches me and joins her pack of middle school friends.

My kids: Little Lightning McQueen, Middle School Zombie & Teen Cat Woman

Emily’s teen friends mentioned that they like collecting a variety of free candy. I asked what were some of the more interesting trick-or-treat gifts they’ve received. I expected them all to say “pennies” or “an apple.” Their answers surprised me.

“Dental floss.”

“A Jesus pamphlet.”

“The guy’s phone number”

That last one was from my daughter, which really creeped me out.

I honestly don’t mind handing out candy to these kids (and yes, they are still technically kids for a couple more years). The ones I don’t like are the gaggle of teens who trick-or-treat without much costume creativity. Preschooler boys might have more facial hair than my husband, while the girls have unrealistically red cheeks and lips. At least I know it’s part of their costume. For the local teens, beards and lipstick are just part of their normal daily appearance. Do they really deserve one of my Dollar Tree gumballs for so little effort?

Instead of gratefully taking a piece of candy, they grab handfuls of the stuff. Then they go back for seconds.

“One piece each, please,” I want to tell them. But I’m afraid I’ll piss them off and they’ll come back to my home another day and tag it with their spray paint.

“STINGY HO!” will be plastered on our front door. However, no one will be able to read it since typical gang-speak graffiti is virtually illegible.

Or I’m afraid that as they’re going door to door trick-or-treating, they’re actually casing the joint. For those of you too young to know that term, it means seeing if you’ve got good stuff to steal.

The good news is, we ain’t got good stuff to steal.

The bad news is, we ain’t got good stuff to steal.

The costume-less teens also seem to be clueless on how to respond to the question, “What do you say?”

“Uh… trick-or-treat?”

“Actually, the answer is thank you.”

“Thank you,” they either mumble or shout like it’s a big joke. There’s rarely a polite “thank you.”

I’m scared that by giving these potential hoodlums a little lesson in manners, it’ll just piss them off, and they’ll be back when they see my car’s not in the driveway to teach me a little lesson in pissing them off.

So what’s the real age cut-off for trick-or-treating?

I don’t know if there’s an answer. But my guess is – if you’re old enough to trick-or-treat with your own children, you probably shouldn’t be bringing your own goodie bag.

So tonight, if you see a beautiful Cat Woman exclaiming “Trick-or-treat,” followed by a very polite “Thank you,” don’t be a creep and give her your phone number, or I’ll come back and tag your house.

And believe me, the word “Creep” on your front door will be very legible.

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Filed under Anxiety, Humor, Parenting, Teenagers

Clean Up Your Own Damn Dish!

Our home is typically in a state of perpetual disarray, but there is one room in which I try to keep a semblance of sanitation – the kitchen.

It should be easy. My motto is “If you set it down, ask yourself: Is this where it goes?” Obviously a dirty dish would not be expected to spend its lifetime rotting in a kitchen sink, yet according to my family, this seems to be its intended home.

Last week I was working beaucoup hours and my wonderful husband saved the day (correction… days) by cooking dinner every night. I’m sure in his head he was keeping up with the dishes, but when I came up for air on Friday afternoon, I was greeted by not only dishes in the sink, but also many meals-worth of dishes throughout the house.

There were multiple glasses surrounding the loveseat/throne where my husband parks himself after work. In the kids’ bedroom I found three plates with dried ketchup, but not much else on the plates since the dogs finished off anything edible (which makes me leery – what’s the culprit in ketchup that even my dogs won’t eat?). Emily’s room looked like a frat house with about a half dozen glasses, two six packs of empty soda cans, and a couple of crusted soup bowls with spoons what would need to soak in a boiling cauldron for days.

I’m kind of a freak about conserving water, so I gathered all those water glasses scattered throughout the house and started dumping them all into our potted plants. When they were drenched, I moved on to the herb plants outside. Unfortunately one of the inside dumps came from my son’s sippy cup. I was a little confused that the water was taking its sweet time coming out, which is certainly against the law of gravity as I know it. A few seconds later, out gushes the not quite liquid / not quite solid mass of three-day old milk. I swear… I almost puked right on top of that curdled mess.

It really didn’t take that much time to clear up all the dishes, which makes me wonder why my loving family didn’t just clean them up in the first place.

About a year ago, I had enough of cleaning up everyone else’s dishes, and I hung the following note over the kitchen sink:

Don’t leave your dishes here


Please rinse them and

put them in the dishwasher


Yes, I know you’re

tired

running late

in the middle of something

planning to do it later

not in the mood

feeling special

too busy

 

PLEASE TAKE CARE OF

YOUR DISHES NOW!

As you can see from the photo, the paper is wrinkled and warped from water spray, and there’s a big hole where the exclamation point should be. You might ask yourself if my sign is worn from a year’s worth of water spray from my family doing their own dishes.

Nope. I think it’s mostly from me.

When I was married to my ex-husband, I didn’t hang up a note. Instead, I suffered for years with a slow-burn resentment about why day after day he didn’t just rinse his coffee cup and put it in the dishwasher. I decided to teach him a lesson.

I covered the entire sink with a layer of plastic wrap.

Did he get the hint?

No. He just thought I was crazy.

That part was probably true.

Today, I fantasize about covering the sink in plastic wrap, but my husband this decade will probably think I’m crazy too. So instead, I put up this sign that is obviously invisible to everyone else but myself.

How hard can it be?

Pick up your dish.

Rinse your dish.

Put it in the dishwasher.

I am so sooooo grateful to have a dishwasher. Frankly, it is a great use of storage for dirty dishes. And the best thing about it?

When the dishes are clean, it’s my daughters’ chore to put them away.

Ahhhh… indentured servants.

Another great reason for having kids.

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Filed under Anxiety, Humor, Husband, Parenting, Teenagers

My Daughter Turns 15 Today and I Am Still Completely Clueless

Totally clueless mom

This blog is reprinted from my Patch blog from July 28, 2011: http://patch.com/B-mV4

My oldest baby turned 15 today.

Emily was due in mid-September, which I thought was a great plan. I was excited to have a little Virgo like myself – an obedient people-pleaser, striving to get straight A’s, correct everyone’s typos, and yet generally appear modest.

Instead, my water broke at week 33.

Emily’s premature arrival was a clear indication of the Leo she was destined to become – stubborn, independent, and outside-the-box (or in this case, outside-the-womb).

She was early and I was unprepared… in other words, completely clueless. If I wanted to mold this young being properly, I was going to need as much information as possible.

I poured through Dr. Sears, followed every week of What to Expect and Ages and Stages, practiced the exercises in building my baby’s self-esteem, raising my child in a moral world, and taming my toddler. I block-booked my little darling in a variety of parks & rec classes, Gymboree, dance, arts & crafts, and sports. I joined a mommies group that met every Wednesday and listened intently to the advice of other moms.

Still, I felt completely clueless.

When the other kids played together, Emily wandered off on her own, exploring someplace not so kid-friendly. The other toddlers chatted with their Barbies and stuffed animals, while Emily spent the afternoon playing in a drawer full of kitchen towels. She transformed each towel into a superhero cape, the fabric over a magic trick, a hijab, or a cast for her pretend broken leg.

We went to the movies one Christmas week when she was 4 years old. The other kids brought their favorite new toys to the theatre to hold during the movie. Emily brought an empty box covered with… you guessed it – a kitchen towel. She called her box “Cogsworth.” Other parents must have looked at her box and figured we were dirt poor.

Emily just gave Cogsworth a hug.

Again, I felt completely clueless.

In elementary school, when other children were writing their biographical book reports on Anne Frank and Babe Ruth, Emily gave a presentation on Sabina Spielrein, one of the first female psychoanalysts (and the test patient for psychoanalysis).

She tried to shake up her middle school dress code by alternately wearing a leather motorcycle jacket, Army camouflage, and a bloody Sweeney Todd apron to school. When Emily was summoned to the dean’s office, he asked her, “Why are you wearing a vampire cape?”

Emily answered, “There’s nothing in the dress code against it.”

When she started high school last year, Emily was at the height of her fashion quest. She wore heels, vintage 1950’s form-fitting dresses and her long red hair in a bun. This look, coupled with her 5’7” stature and Marilyn Monroe-like curves, had many students mistaking her for a teacher rather than a freshman.

Emily’s 15 years have brought me hundreds of clueless moments: when she was diagnosed with type-1 (insulin dependent) diabetes on her 3rd birthday; at 12 years, when she announced she was a vegetarian (and hasn’t had a bite of meat since); and last year when she told me that she likes boys and girls  – and yes… in that way.

While other kids her age ore texting and hovering over Facebook, Emily is busy reading Allen Ginsberg, Friedrich Nietzsche and Sherlock Holmes. She turned me on to My Chemical Romance and Eddie Izzard, and her musical tastes run the gamut from The Beatles to Edith Piaf to Black Sabbath. Emily uploads her eclectic drawings to DeviantArt and creates hundreds of pages of elaborate costume designs. She’s an avid fan of Watchmen, Young Avengers and Legion of Superheroes comics, collects Star Wars and Star Trek figurines, and writes deep, disturbing essays about the morality of man.

I am a conventional gal. Emily is not.

I have had many more clueless moments, and I still have them often. The difference between 15 years ago and today is I accept that I’m a clueless mom. But instead of immediately running to a book or googling some expert (or more often than not, just some pseudo-expert who managed to get a book deal), I try to look to my 15-year old daughter for the answers.

Or at least some clues.

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Filed under Anxiety, Humor, Parenting, Teenagers