Allison, our teenager, a few days ago: “Mom, why are you always complaining about something?”
Me: “It’s not that I’m always complaining, it’s that as a parent, there are problems and issues constantly thrown my way, a lot of stuff I’ve never dealt with before, and I’m constantly having to make decisions and take a side— and you and Emmie don’t always agree with my opinion.”
Amazingly, she didn’t try to argue back. Maybe she realized I was right. Whether it’s school issues or safety or friends or ethics or money, “it’s always something”, all the time. Here are just some of the “surprises” I’ve had to deal with in the last 10 days:
College and grades: Somehow, Andy and I “missed the memo” that high school freshman grades affect whether a kid gets into a “good college” like the University of Texas, so we were floored to find that out from several more experienced parents. We had no idea that a kid brand-new to the rigors of high school has to already be seriously worrying about college. Just one C and more than a few B’s can hurt. Naturally, around the same time as we learned that gem of information, we discovered that Allison has been having a rough time this semester with homework organization, study skills and time planning, and her previously good grades are on shaky ground for the first time. After checking online, it seems like any missed school, whether for theatre, orthodontic appointments, illness, or school field trips, really throws her off, as the make-up work is added to her already full homework load. I now have serious doubts about her schedule for next year, which includes, once again, the extra-time-heavy electives of drill team, choir and theatre. And every time I bring up the subject of changing it, she starts crying…
Sardine-ing: When Emmie, our 5th grader, came home from gymnastics practice last Monday, she was excited that the entire gym-full of girls got to go to Braum’s for ice cream to celebrate their good scores at their last meet.
“Finally, our group got to go, too,” she said, ” ‘cause the older girls do that all the time. It was a blast, we sardined into the cars!”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
She proudly replied, “We fit nine girls into a car that only holds five!”
When I frowned, she said, “Aw Mom! We didn’t have to go very far!”
Not a good thing to tell someone who once saw a speeding Camaro leap over the hood of her car, “only a block from home”, and land vertically up a nearby telephone pole. Not a good thing to tell someone whose car was smashed into, “only a block from the office”, when a wanted drug felon ran a red light. And not a good thing to tell someone who, only a couple days before, listened to the mom of another gymnast as she recounted how her car rolled last week after being sideswiped by a teenager, at only 30 mph., on a neighborhood street. Thanks to my concerns as well as those of other uncool parents, the gym supervisor has since asked the head coach to stop the sardine-ing. Next time, the coach can go get boxes of ice cream treats and bring them back to the gym—a grocery store is only a block away.
Braces Times Two: I spent hours with coffee and tax forms over the last couple of weeks. The good news is that we get a refund. The bad news is that most of it has already been spent—Emmie’s pre-braces orthodontia started last Wednesday when she got a “butterfly” spacer installed. Oh, I knew her mouth was crowded, but I underestimated the scope of work that needs to be done and the expense involved. Yep, we now have two children with metal in their mouths…
The War Over Decency Continues: A couple weeks ago, I allowed Allison to go see a touring Broadway musical called “Spring Awakening”. A friend invited her to attend and was willing to pay half her way. We said she could go if she came up with the other half. She did– an Easter card with money from Grandma arrived on the same day. I’d read a little about the show and knew it was “racy” (along the lines of “Rent”) but knew she was mature enough for Rent, so how bad could it be? I mean, this is North Texas— where some towns won’t allow colorful shirts on public school teachers or alcohol sold within city limits. Surely they would card people at the door if it was that bad. Once again, I was wrong. Recently I’ve found out stuff about Spring Awakening that makes Rent look like a Shirley Temple film festival in comparison. And Allison thinks it’s one of the best musicals she’s ever seen, because “the music is awesome”. Thanks to a $15 I-tunes gift card that Andy just found “laying around” and gave to her, she now has the entire soundtrack downloaded, including a song called “Totally F***ed”. And to make matters worse, I found out about the song from Emmie.