What’s Scarier Than One Teenage Girl?

Why two teenage girls, of course.  And that’s just what we got a few weekends ago when Kid B turned 13, joining her older sister in the official years of life-affecting decisions, crazy, unpredictable hormones, and angst.  Lots of angst.  Oh, and the texting while they are doing just about everything else.  Don’t forget that.  Maybe some eye rolling, door slamming and foot stomping too.  But it does not all have to be bad.  I think that teenagers have gotten some bad press because some of them can be really cool.

In fact, most of Kid A’s teenage years to date have not been horrible.  I would even go so far as to say that they have been quite pleasant.  She is still talking to me and we rarely fight.  She is sometimes sullen and moody, but I always ask her what is going on and we usually talk about what is bothering her.  Some things get resolved and others go on festering, but I don’t do better than that now with my own mother and I’m forty.  My teenager teaches me all kinds of teenage things so I can continue to stay in touch with the youth of America.  We talk openly and often about relationships and sex.  She’s already smarter than me in math, but she doesn’t make fun of me for it.  She teaches me how to navigate Prezi and Spotify, and I teach her what dirty slang words mean when she asks about them.  So I can only hope that Kid B’s teen years are half as good as her sister’s have been so far.

A few weeks prior to Kid B turning 13, she presented Sheepdog and me with a packet of sorts.  It was an “All I Want for My Birthday” kind of thing.  So I laughed out loud, but she said it was serious so I read through it with an open mind.  She asked for a new purse from zappos.com, some posters for her bedroom, a neon soccer ball, an Angry Birds iTouch cover, and a week off from making school lunches.  But in lieu of all of these presents what she really wanted was a weekend trip to Atlantic City.

Seriously… Kid B wished to go to Atlantic City for her 13th birthday.

You have got to be kidding me.

Now you have to understand that her favorite person in the world (her Pop Pop, who is my dad) lives there, so her big draw to Atlantic City is (hopefully) not lucky craps tables at the Borgatta or even my cousin’s 70% manager’s discount at Lacoste.  She wanted to spend time with her Pop Pop and her Nanny and just chill with no sisters or brothers and no scheduled activities.  She wanted to sleep in every day, walk down to the docks to get some breakfast, then wander over to the boardwalks to maybe play a round of mini golf (in Ocean City) and get her tarot cards read by a gypsy (in Atlantic City).  As a bonus she got my undivided attention, a visit with 3 Pops at the VA Home, Primo pizza for lunch one day, and both a t-shirt and a sweatshirt as souvenirs.  It was a fantastic weekend.

Most importantly, we got to spend time together.  We were adding to an already strong foundation just by having this shared experience.  Then we watched “Bridesmaids” together, and we laughed until we almost peed our pants.  I reminded her that I am her mother first and her friend second.  Teenagers can get caught up in their own heads pretty easily.  It is my job to make sure that mine don’t get lost inside there.

For now I’m just going to continue winging it with my teenagers.  With communication and a lot of luck I hope we can make it through these years with more laughter than tears.  I’ll continue to remind them that they are not perfect and neither am I.  And even when they do stupid teenage things I will love them unconditionally, for ever and ever.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Back to School Shopping Did Not Suck

Yesterday we started our back to school shopping.  Nope, I’m not kidding.  It has been almost ten years and I still haven’t quite made the mental calendar adjustment, especially since I grew up not going back to school after Labor Day (more specifically, the day after the Miss America parade up on the Atlantic City boardwalk, which we attended every year… “Show us your shoes!”).  In the South we usually go back to school really early – no later than mid-August, but realize that my kids have been on summer break since before Memorial Day.  I may not ready for summer to be over, yet the countdown has begun.

I had to buy a shower curtain the other day, so I bopped on in to a Walmart.  (I was able to bop because I was alone.  There is never any bopping when you have a constant parade following you around.  We are kind of like a traveling circus.)  On my way to the shower curtain department I couldn’t help but notice that the back to school supplies were already on sale.  And then I calculated that there are only four weeks left until school starts.  So I went back home and announced to the kids that they should start going through their clothes and shoes to see what fits and what doesn’t, and we would figure out what everybody needs to be ready for school.

Let me say right now that I am generally not a fan of shopping.  It’s just not my thing.  If I need something, I go get it.  Otherwise, I do not go to stores.  I do not browse.  If I ever meet the person who invented internet shopping I will make out with him or her.  My mom shops like it is her job and I grew up being dragged from store to store to store to store.  I have so many childhood memories of hiding under display racks and waiting in checkout lines.  I absolutely hated going shopping as a kid.  We went to retail stores, outlet malls, discount chains, farmer’s markets, and garage sales.  It was nothing short of torture for me.

So shopping with me as an adult is all about the efficiency.  It is certainly never an all day event, but even the simplest shopping trip with all five kids can sometimes take a little while.  We planned to go to three stores, which are conveniently located in the same shopping center.  We had looked at the weather (the forecast was cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms) and decided that yesterday was a good day to go shopping, even though it was hot and sunny when we left the house.  We bought some shoes, a bunch of clothes, and most of the school supplies on their lists.  The kids were especially well behaved the entire time (which is a critical component of successfully completing a shopping trip of this magnitude) and the weather even cooperated by clearing up (the storms had arrived in full force while Kid B was trying on some new shorts) whenever we left a store to walk down to another one or load bags into our car.  Dare I say that shopping on this day did not suck?

In the last store I was paying for our stuff and the kids were behind me off to the side near the entry display.  We had quite a haul and check out was taking a while.  As she was scanning the giant pile of clothes, the cashier asked me if all of the kids were mine.  I responded with what I thought was a very believable, “… all FIVE?  No!”  Because I have all of these residual icky feelings towards shopping I guess I figured my shopping luck had run out and they had just broken something or were swinging from the rafters or Kid E had removed his pants or something else inappropriate.  But they were actually being really quiet and still and posing amongst the mannequins.  Kid A even took a picture of them…

"Mom, lemme ask you, did I ever do anything really strange as a child?… Is there any history of insanity in the family?" - Mannequin, 1987

Now that was a fun shopping trip.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…