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these kids today....


these kids today....

I came home from Natalie's 7th grade orientation last night (I know, it's only March - like I need to worry this far in advance) armed with a list of subjects that are available to her for 7th and 8th grade, things like Importance of Play and Reading; Egg Baby Project; Instruction in the use of a Digital Camera; Internet Research; College Applications; Hand Sewing; Design and Construction of a Dragster.

When did this happen? When did schools change from the basic home ec that covered everything from baking cookies to dying your hair? Now they're carrying around egg babies and learning how to play properly. Hopefully these classes will make them more prepared for the real world than I was. Everything I learned in junior high is only good for playing along with Jeopardy! every night.

So I am sitting there at this orientation, and I have this flashback of kindergarten orientation, and I am suddenly in one of those moods. You know...where did the time go, when did my baby grow up? I could swear that it was just two weeks ago that she was sleeping with a stuffed animal and playing with American Girl dolls and....wait. That was two weeks ago.

Something has happened to my daughter. My worst fears have been realized. She has become a.....teenager. It happened overnight, I swear. And it's all because of a boy. Michael. The bastard.

Flashback last month: She is asking me for scotch tape because she has to fix the Nscync posters that are in her locker. Then she is on the phone with her best friend and I hear a few words here and there......Princess Diaries...Justin Timberlake...neopets.....And I smile in my knowledge that my little girl is still so sweet and innoncent.

Cut to the present, two nights ago. She is on the phone with this Michael boy, who calls at least 40 times a day. This is what I hear: "And what is this crap with having a keyboard in our band? It's a punk band, what punk band has a keyboard? I mean, we were supposed to be a freaking rock band to start out with and now we have this Jingle Balls shit, like we're a freaking boy band!"

So now she's cursing and her favorite band is Linkin Park and she is going through her closet getting rid of the "baby clothes" that she picked out when school started and begging me let her put blue streaks in her hair.

She's boy crazy, but at least it one-boy crazy. I mean, she's 12. What could it possibly mean to have a boyfriend at 12? It's not like she' going to start making out with this guy, right? I talk to her about it and she rolls her eyes and looks at me as if I have just breached some invisible wall she had set up. I try real hard to have the talk with her and all I get is whatEVERs and her condescending assurance that they covered all this stuff in health. Of course, I will see to it that she is never alone with this boy, and she knows that, but she is playing the part of cool kid right now and we don't talk about the chaperone thing just yet. She just impatiently taps her fingers on the table and pretends to be interested in my "respect yourself" speech.

Could I have gotten more than two weeks notice that she was going to turn into a rebellious teenager? I was all prepared for geeky wallflower. I was not prepared for this. I had my "no date for the prom" and "It's ok to be a nerd" speeches written and memorized. Now I'm going to have to ask my own mother for copies of her "you can't go to that concert" and "you can't go out dressed like that" speeches. I am not equipped to deal with a cursing, wise-assed, sarcastic, punk of a teenager.


Not only have I become my mother, but Natalie has become me.

I had this coming, didn't I?


Just this morning I heard a guy interviewed on the radio named: Mike Riera. He writes books about teenagers. (i.e. "Field Guide to the American Teenager", "Right From Wrong: Instilling a Sense of Integrity in Your Child", etc.) I've heard him a couple of times and he always sounds great and seems to be a wealth of insight - at least to someone like me who would have no clue how to deal with teenagers. He realizes most teenagers have to rebel and find their own space, and surprises me with suggestions that would allow that and work nonetheless.

The answer is, Yes.

I have two girls and if you'd split me and my personality/quirks/etc. in half, you'd come up with those two. One is serious and smart and the other is spunky and a smartass. Thinking about what lies ahead often keeps me awake at night.

Did your Mom give you the curse when you were a kid? "One day I hope you have a kid just like you?" That is a surefire indication of what your future is going to be like.

No curse from Mom and you are OK.

Just a theory.

Oh, I got the curse. Every day of my life I got the curse. Good thing I stopped at two kids.

faith no more had a keyboardist.

exactly why I never even thought about having kids - I knew the revenge of my own misbehavior would find me (oh yes! I have the curse!).

you just know that your mother is laughing. deep inside.

ohhhhh yes they're laughing. sometimes they don't even bother to try to keep it inside. one memorable sunday morning when my two little angels were doing their best satan impression in church, my dad sat next to me jiggling up and down with the effort of trying not to laugh TOO loud. he whispered to me "oh man, you had this coming......"

The problem, dear Sister, is that she's becoming.... ME! I think she gets some nicer qualities from you, like her writing skills and imagination. But after all, you call her Lisa more than you call me it. I see it more and more every day. The WhatEVERS, the incessant whining, the procrastination (although you are just as bad). Ahh, Natalie. My clone. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Oh, you mean...Natalisa!

So mom's curse got screwed up somewhere. I got your kid instead of mine. Come and get her!

Yes, I suppose I won't tell you about all the sex and drugs we had at the age of 12, right?

S'okay. We survived. She's smart and confident and sassy. She'll be kicking ass. Turn her on to the Donnas and L7. She needs some good punk-metal women role models.

I'm 25 and grew up in the suburbs. Most kids started to get into sex and alcohol and drugs in 9th grade. It seems like it starts earlier now. In 7th grade, one of my friends's mom gave her an informative, illustrated book on sex made for questioning teenagers. At slumber parties, we giggled at it, especially at the penises. We had sex education in 5th grade, but it wasn't really covered again until 10th grade in health when we had to watch that awful giving birth video. That's when the dangers of drugs is covered again. That's way too late for a lot of kids. I don't think an honest book about what drugs can do probably is such a bad reference book for a teenager, either. Education is the key to prevention.

as much as i agree with you about twelve being too young to make out...
i had my first kiss when i was twelve, and it was a french kiss. he was thirteen and it was in the church stairwell. we skipped bible study to go make out.
my sister lost her virginity at fourteen.
watch out.