Monday, June 29, 2009

Holy Turnaround!

Leave your kids to their own devices, and who knows what they’ll get into! It’s two weeks into summer break, and for the most part, I have allowed my teen and her 11-year-old sister to relax and do as they please, and what do they do? They go and get them some religion.

Can you believe it? I turn my back for one second and my daughters run to the nearest church.

They’ve been attending weekly Bible Studies and have insisted that I drive them to Sunday services. My tween has even been carrying around in her purse a bible that her friend gave her. Today she came into my room and proudly announced that she has memorized five of the 10 commandments. Then she proceeded to quiz me on how many I knew. (I rattled off eight, and then drew a blank.)

To understand how really odd – and amazing – this turn of events is, you need to know that we are not very religious people. Spiritual, yes. But not religious. We never say grace, we don’t attend church on Christmas day and on Sundays, we worship at the House of Pancakes.

I don’t know how they have come into the light, or how long this new discovery will hold their interest, but I am really happy they are there. Maybe someday I will join them.

Meanwhile, the bizarre behavior continues. Last week, my teen announced she was a vegetarian and both my daughters begged me NOT to buy ice cream anymore.

What the HELL is wrong with kids these days?

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Jouda Mann said...

I've had "the talk" with my two daughters. They are 12 and 13, and I figured since they share a bedroom, when the oldest got her period, I would kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. I knew that they would talk about it between themselves anyway, so why not include the younger in the conversation too?
They were both surprised that I was so willing to talk to them about it. And then I told them the secret that everyone finds out about 7th grade.
"Girls", I said to their little shocked faces, "I have very little control over your sex life. I can lock you up, and you will hate me. I can preach to you, and you will be sure to go the opposite direction. Or, I can tell you the real, immediate consequences of having sex too early. More immediate than anything else".
"Let's say you have a boy that you're crushing on, and you decide to give it up to him one weekend. Both of you are virgins, and there is no chance of an STD. You use Fort Knox protection, so there is almost no chance of pregnancy. There's one thing that none of that will protect you from."
"What's that?", they ask.
"Teenage boys can't keep secrets", I replied. "If you do the deed on Friday afternoon after school, by Friday night, he has definitely told his best friend, and at least two other friends. They told their friends, because they get a vicarious thrill from knowing someone who had sex. By Saturday all the boys know, and by Sunday, all the girls know too, because their boyfriends started pressuring them to do it, and the boys confessed that they were just looking to get some like your boyfriend."
"Then on Monday, you go to school, and you see the stares. Or the furtive glances. In their eyes, you're the School Slut. It's not right, it's not fair, but it's the truth".
I told them that if they have sex on Friday, they will be the School Slut on Monday, because of the nature of gossip. Every school has one, starting about 7th grade. It doesn't mean that I think they're a slut, but the consequences of their actions would go beyond my opinion of them. I told them that if they are secure enough in themselves to be perceived as the School Slut, then by all means, have at it.
It's not that I don't care. I hope they wait, I hope they get someone good, and I sincerely hope they don't make me a grandfather before I'm 40. But in the end, I have about as much real control over their sex life as I do the neighbor's.
I also told them that if the consequences involves a baby, life gets harder sooner rather than later, because now it's not just them that suffers from a bad decision, it's someone else, too.
I left them with one parting thought. "Your mother and I had you when she was seventeen, and I was twenty. Now I'm thirty-four, and I passed up school to take care of you. Your mother did too, so that she could be with you at home. We're both smart people that could have made better choices. We love you, and we don't think life would be better without you. But life is always harder when there are babies involved. Please, don't take our example in this case."
I left their room that night with a look of total shock on their faces. I'm sure they had a very interesting sisterly conversation that night before they drifted off to sleep and dreams that hopefully weren't too traumatic.
I sincerely hope it works.

Lynn said...


One million apologies for leaving you hanging out here on my blog all alone for so long!! I am in the middle of moving out of The OC after about 23 years, and there is MUCH to do! No time to sit on my butt tapping away on a keyboard, sorry to say. I envy everyone who is settled into his or her homes, boxes unpacked, kitchen all organized and the DVR standing at the ready.

Your post was so thoughtful and beautifully written. Maybe YOU should consider creating a blog for parents with teens. You would be WONDERFUL at it! Unlike me, who has let my blog gather moss.

I like your approach to the big sex talk with you daughters, although my life experience has been far different than yours. I had my first daughter when I was 33 -- just one year younger than you are now! I thought it best to do everything by the book -- college, career, marriage, then kids. That part worked out fine. But it weas the divorce and my journey into single motherhood that I didn't plan for.

I can't imagine what it was like for you to become a father at age 20. But maybe you did it right, in the end. At least you'll be a very young grandpa. By the time my daughters have babies, I'll be drooling and wearing diapers right along with them!