Category: teen/tween

Finding the Beauty in Me

I remember feeling out of place in my own home, being raised by two naturally tall and thin parents. I remember spending time with my best friend, who would routinely get flagged down in the street by modeling agents asking her to be in their next photo shoot. I remember looking at photos of myself and never feeling quite good enough because of my size.

Today, I tell people I am the luckiest girl in the world: I work with teen girls as a life coach and workshop presenter. Every girl is beautiful to me, and I feel extremely grateful to help girls discover and appreciate the beauty they bring to the world.

But “beauty” is a complicated word, isn’t it?

Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ph.D., says half of teenage girls are dissatisfied with their bodies. Nearly half of the three- to six-year-old participants in a recent study said they worried about being fat. The

Diary of a Teenager Doing Laundry

11:17 a.m. Wake up to a cheekful of drool. Roll back over and nod off.
12:42 p.m. Stumble to bathroom. In kitchen, stand in front of open fridge for three minutes. Shut fridge, open cereal cabinet. Notice note from Mom: “DO YOUR LAUNDRY TODAY OR SUFFER LOSS OF PRIVILEGES!”
12:55 p.m. Locate younger brother. Successfully convince him that sharing laundry duty will be a win-win for all.
1:20 p.m. Stuff four loads of dirty clothes into washer. Pat self on back for brilliant efficiency. Pour extra detergent in to make sure all the heavy metal t-shirts get clean. Start playing bass at full volume.
1:45 p.m. STARVING. Open fridge. Cobble together a PB&J, followed by salami and cheese with a tall glass of milk. Put empty carton of milk back in fridge. Flip on computer.
3:45 p.m. Micromanage little brother as he attempts to transfer overpacked washer load into dryer.
3:55 p.m. Resume World of Warcraft

The First Date Experience

When he was 14, my son called me one night from his mom’s house. “Dad, I have a question for you: Do you mind if I date?”

My first reaction was one of complete horror. My boy, my baby, was asking me if he could enter into the utter hell of teen dating. My mind flashed past so many faces of girls who had unwittingly stomped on my exposed heart with stiletto heels they were too young to own.

My earliest disappointment, Adele, was before my teen years. She ran away from me on the playground when we played “Boys Catch the Girls” at recess in First and Second Grades. She won my all most valuable baseball cards when we played after school in Third Grade. We moved away near the end of Third Grade, but I stayed devoted to Adele. One of my strongest memories was sitting at the supremely ugly red painted piano in our music room singing the love theme from Doctor Zhivago to her.

Someday we’ll meet again, my love
Someday whenever the spring breaks through

I wanted to tell my son Jay about Adele, and how tough the loss of a first love can be, but he was older than my Third-Grade self. Maybe he was more prepared.

Then again, I wasn’t any more prepared when I met Caron Callahan in Sixth Grade at the American School in London. She always wore dark clothes. I wondered why, but I never asked. Then, one day late in the school year she was gone (as is the tendency with American ex-pats in foreign schools). I had no idea where she had gone. I didn’t sing a sappy song to her, but I did fantasize about the day I would be elected president of the United States and could use that high office to find her again and tell her of my undying desire.

At least my son wouldn’t have the problem of girls leaving him unexpectedly. He was in a school where classmates weren’t moving all over the damn world.

But he’ll still have to deal with school dances, and that gut-wrenching feeling you have when your ex-girlfriend is dancing with some other guy and smiling and laughing. He’ll have to deal with those dates when he gathers all his money to take a girl like Kathy Poling to watch a day of tennis at Wimbledon, and then she doesn’t even know it’s a date and tells him very sweetly (because she’s the sweetest girl in the world) that she doesn’t date guys who are younger than her and that, if she’d known it was a date, she never would have agreed to it. One sentence turning the best day of his life into an embarrassing eternal memory.

Rock ‘n Roll Mama

My husband and I live for music. We met at the infamous Electric Lounge and spent years attending every music show we could. We even worked in bars to get our fix cheaper. Even now, decades later, our ideal date night is to head out in a cab–sucking down five-hour energy drinks–to see one of our local faves from years gone by like The Pocketfishermen or The Hickoids. Or you might find us enjoying a bottle of wine while happily dissecting an old album from our youth–ZZ Top, Adam Ant, The Clash or The James Gang.

So when my son, in his 10th year, expressed a desire to play drums, I was ecstatic. Drummers are my personal weakness. I dreamed of playing the drums; instead I married a drummer–close enough.

I could already see it: my son, a hard-rockin’, tattoed, bad-ass drummer, going on tour with some mid-grade band, barely scrapping by, living at home when he wasn’t touring, eating our groceries, bumming money. Some moms wish for suits and ties, a home in the burbs, a good wife and a couple of kids. Here I am, gunning for sex, drugs and rock-and-roll.

Delivering “The Sex Talk,” Take Two

When it comes to discussing sensitive topics with the kids, I want to introduce things at the right time. So when my wife told me about her fourth-grade classmate’s first menstruation, and the confusion, err… horror, of the kids who weren’t prepared to witness such a thing, I knew it was time to have a talk with our fourth-grade son.

I started out with the story from Mom’s fourth grade class, then gave my best effort at explaining what’s happening in a pubescent girl’s body, although after reviewing with my wife, I see a need to brush up on some terminology. I moved on to how he could expect his body to react as he enters manhood.

I can remember being so freaked out after having my first “wet dream”–waking up with a smile, then feeling as if I were covered in filth, and finally discovering the culprit on the front of my shorts. “What the hell is GOING ON?!,” I thought. In a panic, I darted into the bathroom and shoved the shorts deep into the laundry basket, trying to hide my disgrace. The shame and confusion were nearly crippling.