Category Archives: teenagers

conversation with a 7th grader

“I’m not hungry.”

My 7th-grade son has said that the last several nights at dinner time. When asked why, he just shrugs. Tonight it had happened enough times that I was worried, so we pushed the issue. Why aren’t you hungry? Don’t you feel well? When you went over to Grandma’s to watch TV, did you have a snack?

“Well, yeah.”

Aha.

What did you have?

“Umm, a pack of Oreos and two Pop Tarts. I took those over with me.”

A pack of Oreos, as in an entire sleeve of Oreos out of the package? How many is that?

“I don’t know, maybe 12.”

A pause.

“And I had two chocolate bars.”

Another pause.

“Oh, yeah, and two glasses of milk.”

Gosh, I wonder why he isn’t hungry.

—————

Later, as we were eating, he cheerfully began to recount the tales told by his Geography substitute, who used to be a Marine. How if you’re stationed in the Far East, and you go out and get really wasted, and you wake up the next morning feeling awful, you can drink something alcoholic that has some opium stirred into it, and sleep for about 6 hours, and you’ll wake up feeling fine.

And how opium can get made into heroin, and heroin addicts use a needle to shoot it into their arms like this. [Demonstration of shooting-up motion into a vein]

Ummm, yeah… Those don’t exactly sound like appropriate things for him to tell you. Did he say that he did those things?

“No. But he looks like he’s stuck in the 70s and was probably a hippie. You know, he had his hair like this. [Motion outlining the shape of a long pompadour] They were cool stories!”

(My husband to me, afterward: “Do you want to call, or should I?”)

“Oh, yeah, and Mr. W [his health teacher] was telling us how if you have a hole in your throat, and you take a shower, the water can get into it and you can drown!”

And so forth.

Dinner conversation with an adolescent is never dull.

taking the wheel

http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:IFZ4WZlNj8lNiM:http://www.monkeyandfriends.com/items_images/1155256225_3001-Baby-CarKeys%2520copy.jpgToday my little girl drove herself to school.

Somehow, the bouncy 2-year-old with sunny auburn Shirley Temple curls has grown into a gorgeous 16-year-old. Yesterday we went to the BMV where she passed her written test with no problems, I handed over $14, and she got her driver’s license.

This morning, away she went. Our town’s Harvest Homecoming festival is going on now, so she won’t be home until 10:00 p.m. — and for the first time, we won’t have to go pick her up.

It seems as though she was just born, and now she’s taking the wheel of her own life.

warped!

https://i2.wp.com/farm2.static.flickr.com/1120/986796536_dc503480e3.jpgOn Wednesday, I took my daughter (C), her boyfriend (T), her best friend (L), and the friend’s boyfriend (A), to Cincinnati for the Warped Tour. It’s an all-day concert event with six stages featuring simultaneous rock, punk, and hard-core music; the tour visits cities all over the U.S. and runs for two months. A rotating list of about 60 bands travels with the tour, and numerous smaller/local bands appear in each city. On Wednesday, I’d estimate that 50 different bands played.https://i1.wp.com/farm2.static.flickr.com/1305/985947665_b589a907c4.jpg

The event was at Riverbend Music Center, a lovely place on the banks of the Ohio River, with a huge covered amphitheatre stage. I’ve been there before to hear Bonnie Raitt. The audience this time was rather remarkably different. 🙂

If you’re interested, you can view all my photos of the day on Flickr.

We reached Cincy about noon (the event’s starting time). The walk from the car to Riverbend followed a pathway through a sweet little amusement park called Coney Island (they share parking). As we passed the merry-go-round, I wondered what the parents of the park’s small visitors thought of the massively pierced, tattooed, spike-haired stream of young people passing by — and the distant drone of bass and drums that had begun and that wouldn’t fall silent until almost 9 p.m.

As we walked, we were enveloped by a cloud of pot smoke. It caused me to worry that I’d be surrounded by drugs the whole time; but to my surprise, I didn’t smell pot again all day, I didn’t see anyone using any sort of drug, and I didn’t see anyone who was obviously stoned or drunk. I also didn’t witness any fights or other sorts of bad behavior. Many people, put into these surroundings, might have been frightened by the general appearance of many of the concert-goers; but they were friendly, peaceful, and there to hear lots of music.https://i1.wp.com/farm2.static.flickr.com/1155/985948075_68c656d6fd.jpg

Speaking of appearance, I decided early in the day that it would be easier to count the people who did not have tattoos. It was extremely hot, so everyone was wearing as little clothing as possible, and many guys were shirtless. Thus all the tattoos were on full display. It was a fascinating parade of artwork, good, bad, and vulgar. Of particular note was a young man with two full-size pistols tattooed on his torso, the barrels pointing downward, their ends hidden in his low-riding pants, pointing at an area where I wouldn’t think you’d want two guns aimed; we also saw a young women with large, beautifully drawn angel wings tattooed on her back.

https://i0.wp.com/farm2.static.flickr.com/1074/986805408_125222d30a.jpgWhen we arrived I walked around with the kids for a while, to get a feel for the layout, locate the various stages, and examine the goods being sold at the hundreds of booths set up by bands, record labels, and other vendors. Then I found a seat in what I called the “parents’ section” in the back row of the main amphitheatre; that stage was, unfortunately, hosting mostly loud, screaming punk music, but the seats were in the shade with a view of the river, and a cool breeze blew all day. Quite a few other people my age and older sat in this area reading our books and magazines; the kids we’d brought came and visited us occasionally, and except for the volume of the screaming onstage, it was pleasant. (Side note: I’d like to know how the lead vocalists of these groups are able to talk after screaming for such an extended period. But maybe they don’t talk — maybe they save up all their vocal energy for their time onstage.)

Over the course of the day we kept in touch via cel phone text messages, which worked very well. I always knew where the kids were, and they knew where I was, and I never had any cause for concern. A definite benefit of the event being spread out over a fairly large area was that the crowd, although a sell-out, was dispersed and not oppressive. Unless you were up near one of the stages, there was plenty of room to walk, and Riverbend offers lots of shady places to sit.https://i1.wp.com/farm2.static.flickr.com/1099/986802362_c27f0d85d5.jpg

If you were up close to a stage, it was a different story. The kids wanted to hear several of the bands in particular and in those cases made their way to the front, over to the side of the stage. C said it was the hottest she’s ever been — and keep in mind that we just came back from Disney World in July! People were packed in tightly, with more always coming. And there was also the danger of being accidentally kicked or hit by someone being passed overhead while crowd surfing. (The front of each stage was lined with security people whose job was to help the crowd surfers reach the ground safely. However, the kids saw several badly injured people who evidently fell and had to be taken away for medical help. Despite the risk, C told me that T would have happily gone surfing if she hadn’t been with him.) However, they managed to see their bands, get great close-up photos, and avoid injury.

At one point I was watching one of the punk bands and saw that a group of shirtless guys in the crowd up front were having fist fight. But — no, they weren’t, they were bouncing off each other, and then spinning through the crowd with their arms extended in fists. L explained to me that it’s called hardcore dancing, which is closely related to moshing. As far as I can see, the idea is to get hurt, or to hurt people around you; but it was contained to a small area in front of the stage, so obviously the people who chose to stand in that area knew what to expect.https://i0.wp.com/farm2.static.flickr.com/1005/985953373_9346a57c9f.jpg

One of my favorite moments came early in the day when we were walking around and finding the various stages. A new group was just beginning to perform on one of the smaller stages. The huge, bald, shirtless, sweaty, tattooed lead singer bellowed, “I just want you to remember that everything we do, we do for Jesus! So now we’re going to get emo for Jesus!” after which they launched into an indecipherable riot of noise. After finishing the number, he launched into a crowd-enlivening recitation of the word fuck in all its various forms, such as “You Cincinnati motherfuckers are a great fuckin’ crowd, and we’re gonna fuckin’ rock!” (What would Jesus think?)https://i2.wp.com/farm2.static.flickr.com/1405/986801336_6fe43d17da.jpg

Speaking of that particular word, I heard it more times on Wednesday than I have in a long time — it boomed out over audiences more frequently than it leaves Joe Pesci’s mouth in Goodfellas or is spoken by the cast of Bull Durham (and that’s saying something).

I bought myself a black Vans tank top as a souvenir. C came home with multiple shirts from her favorite bands. We all got sunburned to some degree, but it shows we were there. The kids had a great time. When we reached the car at the end of the day, all the kids thanked me for driving them, and T said in a heartfelt tone, “I’d take a bullet for you right now.” What possible better compliment from one’s daughter’s boyfriend?

When we got home, my husband asked me if I had a good time. The thing is, I did not have a good time in the usual sense of “oh, boy that was great fun and I want to do it again soon!” The day was hot, loud, and long. But I did have a good time helping my daughter and her friends have a good time, and talking and laughing with them in the car, and just having that time together. If they want to go again next year, I’ll be there.

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44 hours of driving and worth every second

I’m back from beautiful, warm, sunny, well-nigh-perfect Sanibel Island, Florida, and buffering my return to work by uploading photos and deleting spam email. We ate a great deal of good food, rented bikes and rode them all over the island, kayaked through a mangrove jungle (and right up beside a manatee, which was extremely cool), took long walks, and r-e-l-a-x-e-d.

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Our Saturn Vue (an awesome vehicle, by the way) carried two adults, our son, our daughter, and our daughter’s best friend. Packing the car is an underappreciated art form:

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The condo we stay in is right on the beach. Every morning we ate breakfast to the sound of waves and watched the pelicans diving for their morning meal. It just doesn’t get any better—except for walking on the sand in water ankle deep, looking for shells. That’s perhaps my favorite part of vacation. Usually when I’m walking I need to listen to a podcast or a book on tape to keep my mind occupied; but on the beach, walking in the water, I’m at peace. Content just to be.

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The kids, of course, made themselves completely at home. Behold the bathroom when inhabited by 2 teenage girls, a woman, a nearly teenage boy, and a man. Can you spot the 4 objects in this picture that belong to males?

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On our last full day, we went to an art fair organized every year by the local Lions’ Club. At one booth, the Lions offered delicious barbecue that they’d smoked for 14 hours over pecan wood. Mmmmm. Then we noticed the apron one Lion was wearing, which proclaimed, “Everything’s better with a little Butt Rub!” Yes, Butt Rub is a seasoning (they were selling bottles, and I wish I’d bought one); but that catch-phrase has now entered my family’s vocabulary. 😀

The drive down took a total of 20 hours over 2 days; the drive home took 24, no thanks to unbelievably nasty traffic through northern Florida and southern Georgia. Hotel reservations: Don’t leave home without them! (We learned that lesson a few years ago after spending an exceedingly unpleasant night trying to sleep in the car at a rest area.) At 12:30 a.m. Sunday morning, when we finally arrived at the hotel, a woman every bit as exhausted-looking as me was asking the clerk about rooms there … or anywhere … and being told there was no vacancy at any inn he knew of. She and her party were headed south, directly into Atlanta, on the weekend of the NCAA final games and spring break for half the country. I silently wished them well.

Here’s the sunset view we enjoyed every evening:

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Waves … breeze … incredible natural beauty … I know it gets awfully hot in the summer, and they have those pesky hurricanes, but ohh—how I’d love to live there on the Gulf at least part of the year.

ready or not…

http://images.google.com/images?q=tbn:cIz7uTACbBzUKM:http://www.newdriversafety.com/images/product3.jpgA little while ago I took my 15-year-old daughter for her first driving experience, in a nearby school parking lot. She was nervous but excited, and she did very well; she adjusted quickly to the feel of the accelerator, and she’s well on her way to getting used to the pressure required on the brake and the degree to which she must turn the wheel at a corner. She’ll start taking Driver’s Ed in a month or so, and by that time I want her to be fully comfortable within the confines of a car so she can concentrate on the larger lessons required to become a good driver.

She’s ready. I’m almost ready. Her dad is not ready — but he’s got another 9 months of adjustment time before she can get her license!