Trying to get the perfect photo of your moody teens? Graduation? Christmas?

My twins who are the oldest of my three kids were entering the really annoying “teen stage” at about 13 years old. They were still very good kids, but one thing in particular became very difficult for about a year: taking family photos with happy faces!

It was November and I wanted to have the three of them in a decent photo for the annual Christmas card. Whenever I was behind the camera that year, trying to get them all to laugh together became a guaranteed upset and complete failure. So, I decided to have the photo taken somewhere else.

I made a few phone calls and found a place that fit my budget and time frame around sports. As I finalized the date, I casually asked, “Can you please arrange for us to have one of your most fun and friendly photographers? Preferably a female?”

Her stuttering response: “Why, ma’am? Are… your… kids… little ones?”

I can hear her shuffling papers through the phone line. “I thought you told me they were teenagers…?” Poor thing, she was confused.

I was embarrassed and felt compelled to explain that “little ones” behavior often accompanies teenage bodies. But, I didn’t waste her time or mine. The truth is, teens will usually (although not always) behave better for strangers (a.k.a. photographer) than family.

The point of the story? When raising teens, shamelessly ask for help when you need it. Yep, even if that includes the photographer at your local JCPenney studio.

Enough

The world tells me to just be me

But then it says my shirt isn’t tight enough

My skirt isn’t short enough

My waist isn’t tiny enough.

 

Politicians tell me to vote with my head and my heart

Then they claim I’m not pro-murder enough

I’m not woman-enough

Not tolerant enough; while they are utterly intolerant of me.

 

Public education claims it offers more than enough

While U.S. students rank lower than other developed nations.

We haven’t taught them to think independently or problem solve enough

How much mindless testing is going to satisfy the administrative fools enough?

 

Enough with being able to name every Kardashian

but not one Chief Justice in the Supreme Court.

 

Enough with being able to name 7 reality shows,

but not the 7 natural wonders of our beautiful world.

 

Enough selecting friends and presidents because they are our same color or gender.

Enough accepting and promoting liars, cheaters and those who simply don’t believe the rules apply to them – all the while you are forced to follow them.

Enough television, more books.

Is It Fair That We are Judged by How We Look?

GothThis is a question that I have asked my college students over the years.  Inevitably, they will argue that it is absolutely “not fair!” and without my intervention, end up sharing countless examples of when they, themselves immediately judged by physical appearance.  Therefore, determining that while “unfair”, it is unequivocally, indisputably, inevitable.

Recently, my 16 year old daughter and I were swimsuit shopping for spring break.  She is a small, petite, clean cut girl with long strawberry blonde hair and a spunky spirit.  When we approached the fitting room desk, my daughter asked the 50-something female attendant how many items my daughter could bring into the room.  She cheerfully glanced at our mini mountain, totaling about 15 items, smiled, and said, “Go ahead, just bring everything out when you are done.”  My daughter entered the room, and I sat down waiting for the fashion show to begin.

Four minutes later, a youthful looking grandma along with her granddaughter, surely my daughter’s age, and also quite petite, approached the same fitting room attendant with her pile of items and held it up to the woman.  The woman curtly sniped, “you can only take in 6 at a time. How many do you have?” The young girl answered, “7”. The woman took the pile out of her hands, counted the clothes one by one out loud for all to hear, until reaching the number 8 with a huff.  Handing her back only six of the items and practically tossing the girl a fitting room tag, she announced that the rest would be held at the desk.

The woman clearly showed preferential treatment to my daughter.  Why?  Not because I was with my daughter, as the other teenager had her grandma with her.  My guess is the teen’s outer appearance.  Multiple nose and earrings, jet black dyed hair, with wide sections dyed platinum, black nail polish, a sour frown, and Goth clothing greeted the fitting room lady.

I’m honest enough to tell you that I certainly judge on one’s exterior, most often when my children are involved.  Evaluation in this depraved society is essential for our safety.  By external appearance, we can draw countless conclusions about someone.  Many will be accurate, and a few utterly wrong.  Either way, the pre-vacation shopping experience left me humbled. 

As a woman who has judged wrongfully and endured judgment, I’m still training myself to be cautious before labeling and stereotyping.  That doesn’t stop me from staring (hopefully, inconspicuously!) if someone has decided to cover themselves in ink, piercings, and adorn their clothing with a variety of clinking, shiny chains – like a toddler, I’m mesmerized.  Regardless, giving someone a chance to reveal who they really are through conversation is always my goal.

The dark-dressed girl slinked away into a fitting room, without a smile, and I couldn’t help but think that I wouldn’t want to be yet another person contributing to her already sad expression. Insecurities exist in all of us, whether or not they are concealed in neat, well-groomed packages.  If teens experience enough unfair treatment, they have a natural tendency to believe they’re not worthy of good treatment.

Photo: drprem.com

Throwback Thursday article from 5/6/2013

The Difference in One Year THEN and The Difference in One Year NOW…

Between birth and one year of age, my kids:

Rolled over, crawled, pulled up and walked by 9 months

Ate solid food

Said all family names

Eventually spoke in choppy sentences

Followed book pages with their eyes and hands

Always toddled toward Mama and Dada.

Between 16 and 17 years of age, two of my three kids:

Got their driving permit

Secured a job

Began independently driving a moving vehicle (a.k.a. license)

Brought home a significant other

Starting dating

Attended high school parties and dances

Began walking a little farther away from Mama and Dada….

 

Mom, Were You EVER a Kid?!

Whenever I don’t laugh at something my 16-year old son thinks is funny, he asks me if I was EVER a kid.  Just last week he told a friend that he believes Grandma delivered me as a “grown up”.

The truth is, somewhere along the parenting-teens years, I have admittedly grown more serious.

Why my son doesn’t think I was ever a kid:

1.)  I am too much of a deep thinker, and not enough of a laugh-er.

2.)  I am humor-challenged.  This is the residual of my ever-running, analytical mind.

Example: Last December, my daughters and I were at a Christmas craft fair. They told me a joke.  I didn’t get it.  They laughed even harder watching my eyebrows furrow, my head tilt, and my blank stare prevail.  I asked them deep, thoughtful questions, attempting to understand.  They rolled their eyes.  25 minutes later, I burst out laughing in front of several cashiers.  I finally “got it”, and because it took me so long, I laughed even harder, until my daughters were both mortified at how I was carrying on.

3.)  I don’t play like they do.  When my kids were little, I was out the door every summer day by 9am, rollerblading behind a triplet stroller, and days were packed with play time.  For years, I played all sports with them, swam, acted out pretend shows and participated in hours of hide-and-seek.  They don’t remember much of it.  Now that they are older, my kids think my idea of play time is reading a good book or visiting a museum.

4.)  I believe my children should be somewhat-versed in American history and current politics.  I argue that knowledge makes us better citizens, and me a wiser teacher and parent.  History and politics in teen language: BORING.

5.)  I like order.  Labels.  Symmetry.  Clean counters.  This makes my kids crazy.

How I’m becoming a little “lighter” this year, and getting in tune with my “teenage-self”:

1.)  Instead of reaching for a book because “I should” read (when I’m in the mood to watch something mindless on television), I turn on the TV.

2.)  I’m on the lookout for funny:) things and, I purposely began my year in January by going with my family to see Tim Hawkins.  If you have not heard of him, you must follow him on Twitter, look him up on YouTube, and see his comic show asap!

3.) My son dressed up in his street goalie pads the other day and I took shots on net.  We played basketball for an hour (limping around on my bad ankle).  I’ve been playing games and swimming (even after rain cools down the water!).

4.)  I’m watching less national news (I’m an admitted news junkie).  I’m still informed, but I’ve (almost) completely ceased spouting remarks at the screen.

5.)  I close my son’s bedroom door when company is coming.  I tell myself the floor is a great place to keep freshly washed clothes.  Who needs drawers?

Throwback Thursday from 7/29/2013