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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Thursday, June 25, 2009

We're On Holiday!

The English say "holiday." We Yanks say "vacation." Either way, we're not here right now. But if you leave your name and message, we will be sure to get back to you.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

School's Out. Time To Panic!

My teenager started summer vacation this week. I remember the pressure I used to feel when she was in grade school, trying to come up with creative and affordable diversions for her in the summertime. I managed to string together enough cheap day camps, trips to the library for storytime, beach outings and weekly visits to Chuck E. Cheese to help entertain her through the long summer months.

I always thought the pressure of trying to keep your children busy during the summer would fizzle out as they got older. But I think it only gets worse.

When they’re teenagers, it’s a pressure of another kind entirely: You worry that if you don’t have enough activities lined up for them, then they’ll get into trouble on their own.

We’re three days into her vacation, and already she’s spent time with two friends, here at our house. They’ve gone to the gym, hung out by the pool, played a little tennis, watched “Twilight” for the gazillionth time. I like that they’re here and I can keep an eye on them. But I’m sure this venue will grow old real soon.

My Gidget will probably be spending a lot of time at the beach during the day, which is fine, and so typical of being a teenager here in Surf City. But it’s the bonfires at night that I’m concerned about. She’s already been to one where teens were passing around mixed drinks in plastic cups.

We had a nice, long talk about THAT!

Does anyone out there have any good ideas on what to do with teenagers during the summer? Maybe some things that don’t involve too many boys!

Monday, June 8, 2009

My Teen, The Ninja

It’s official: My teenager can now kick my butt. (And it seems like just yesterday that I was swatting and swaddling hers.)

On Saturday, my 15 1/2-year-old daughter earned her Black Belt in Taekwondo. What a relief! I will no longer have to worry about her dating or meeting up with the wrong kind of guys. This girl is now fully capable of protecting herself. Believe me, I saw her free-sparring and I feel sorry for anyone who gets in her way!

After the Black-Belt ceremony, I asked her how she felt about this tremendous accomplishment. “I feel empowered,” she replied. Feeling empowered is a marvelous way for any young woman to start her life’s journey, don’t you think? The way that I see it, she is way ahead of the game. It takes some women all their lives to feel that kind of inner strength. And she already does at 15.

I am over-the-top proud of her!

This ceremony marked a real turning point for my teen, the ninja. She had been taking Taekwondo for more than two years, earning a rainbow of belts along the way, always with her eye on the top prize: Her first-degree Black Belt. About midway through her journey to black, somewhere around the Purple-Belt stage, she wanted to quit. She had lost her motivation and said it just wasn’t fun anymore.

I did the mom thing, and talked her into persevering and seeing this pursuit through to the end. I told her that when they tie that black belt around her, she is going to be so incredibly proud of herself. She will have climbed a mountain and will be standing in a spot that not too many people can stand in.

Besides, I told her, it will look great on the college application.

As mothers, we teach our children so much. But there’s bound to be gaps in their education since we’re still learning valuable life lessons ourselves. Disciplined sports, such as Taekwondo, can help fill in those spaces that we aren’t always able to reach, as well as reinforce the lessons we’ve already taught them.

To be honest, I encouraged my teenager to pursue Taekwondo so that she would be able to defend herself someday if she ever had to. Something I believe all women should be able to do. But in the process, she became a disciplined, confident, strong and respectful young woman.

Again . . . I am SO proud of her!

The Black Belt Creed:

As a dedicated student of Taekwondo, I shall live by the principles of the Black Belt Creed:

* Courtesy
* Modesty
* Integrity
* Perseverance
* Self-Control
* Indomitable Spirit

Monday, June 1, 2009

Island Wisdom

On Saturday, I strolled through Balboa Island in Newport Beach with a good friend. Another single mother with a teenager. It's a darling little beach town dotted with million-dollar cottages and alluring boutiques.

We walked into a store called Heart of the Island, a gallery featuring the works of Southern California artists. Decorative ceramics, paintings, whimsical gifts, that kind of thing. My friend and I were discussing teenagers, our favorite and sometimes not-so-favorite topic, and right on cue, I walk by this framed poem titled, "Teen Creed." While I had promised myself that I wouldn't be buying anything that day, this item fell under that "It's Fate and you just have to get it" category.

Besides, I didn't buy it for ME, I bought it for my teenager, the alien. It's full of wisdom to help teens through those difficult teen years. (I am hoping that the quip about driving resonates the most with my daughter.) The shopkeeper told me that Oprah read this on her show not too long ago. I've pasted it below.

But what really sold me on this poem was the signature at the end. It was signed, "Lynn," as if I had written it myself. (The real writer's name is Lynn Kessinger.)

No matter how hard you try to resist the call of the wild, spontaneous purchase, some things were just meant to be yours.

Teen Creed

Don’t let your parents down,
They brought you up.

Be humble enough to obey,
You may give orders someday.

Choose companions with care,
You become what they are.

Guard your thoughts,
What you think, you are.

Choose only a date
Who would make a good mate.

Be master of your habits,
Or they will master you.

Don’t be a showoff when you drive,
Drive with safety and arrive.

Don’t let the crowd pressure you,
Stand for something . . .
Or you’ll fall for anything.

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