Archive for teenagers

Twelve Steps Away From My Desk

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , on May 1, 2009 by Ms. Ex

“My name is Jennifer, and I’m addicted to comment threads.”

“Hi, Jennifer.”

It started innocently enough.

Or not.

Look, I’m a black hole of need, okay?  If some brilliant person wants to throw down the gauntlet and have a little back and forth wordplay, I’m all over it.  I live to be clever.  I need the affirmation that my brain has not, as I previously suspected, turned to mush.

I hit a comment thread and I just can’t let go.

I have even been known to dream about commenting.

I’m sick, I tell you.

I’m walking my dog, pushing the stroller, and all I can think is, “What would the saucy tomato bunny from that comic pulp fiction thread say next?”

I spend 10 minutes or more editing a comment.  If I’m away from the computer for a while, I get edgy and irritable.  My skin itches.  This is a cry for help, people.  I need a serious interventi

um hey. this is barelyknittedtogs or whatever she calls herself daughter. i’m sick of like sitting here waiting 4 her to finish ths whatever thing n i don wnt to sit around herr all freakin day so just like go do somethin else for a while and giv me back my moms for chrissakes.  all this comment anxiety shit is harshing my mellow.

<3 (thats a kiss and rite now it means buh-bye 4 all u old foks who don’t know)

Zero Tolerance Drug Policies: No Tolerance, Pleny of Punishment

Posted in Motherhood, The Soap Box with tags , , , , , , on April 7, 2009 by Ms. Ex

I got an unexpected call yesterday from a parent of one of my daughter’s friends.  He didn’t realize he knew me at first, he was so absorbed in his purpose.  It seems the city where I live  has a zero tolerance drug policy in its schools, which means if a student commits a drug offense, the student is expelled for 365 days and sent to an “alternative education” center.  I actually found it excedingly difficult to find out exactly what constitutes a drug offense.  Possibly, being under the influence, but it may require actual possession.

That’s not really my issue, anyway.  Here’s the thing:  two other friends of my daughter (not the caller’s child), along with one of their sisters, got high before school.  One child actually carried some into school with her.  Now, whether someone figured out that they were stoned, or someone told on them, or if a teacher saw the actual material, they got busted.

Zero tolerance.  Three hundred sixty-five days out of school.

The parent was calling to urge people to go to the school administration building for a hearing, in order to protest the severity of the sentence.

My feelings on this are mixed.  Yes, I do believe a year out of school is excessive for a first offense, especially for the two students who didn’t have any drugs on their person.

And I can’t help but wonder if being in an alternative school is really a good idea for a few kids who aren’t that bad.  I am not saying they are innocent at all.  In fact, I do think they merit some kind of intervention, and not based on this incident alone.

But if we want to save kids who might be making some missteps, do we want to make the same mistakes we make with petty criminals by sending them to spend time interacting with other kids who are troubled?  And, in light of a local report stating that this particular high school’s drop out rate is higher than the state average, don’t we want to prevent what seems like an open door to dropping out?  A year off track in their regular school might be just the thing that derails them permanently.

I haven’t decided yet what to do.  I can’t help but wonder if a little more parent fervor before this happened, about the choices these kids are making, might be more appropriate than the current action.

I don’t pretend that my daughter doesn’t make bad choices.  In fact, I know she does.  But I also make clear my position on those things, and the consequences, just as the school policy does.  She is old enough to know that when you choose certain things there is a price to pay.  I just hope she sees how dear that price really is.

Baba O’Riley

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 3, 2009 by Ms. Ex

There is this 25 random facts thing circulating on Facebook right now, and one of the things a friend wrote really resonated with me.  She said she almost quit using the social networking site because it reminded her of her high school angst and it made her feel uneasy.

I’ve been sort of dealing with the same thing.

I never quite fit in with any one group in high school.  I was smart, but I also was naughty (and started young), so I didn’t fit in very well with the preppy smart kids.  But I also had something that every once in a while would make me think that I was headed down a bad road, and this caused me to try to get some distance from my more drug addled friends.  I was a hippie with a punk boyfriend, or maybe I was just a future geek all along.  In any event, this unstable identity caused me no end of confusion in my teen years.

And it’s not much better now.

But another old friend commented on my friend’s 25 things, saying she felt the same way.  And this someone is a person I always thought “fit in” just perfectly.  She was popular, pretty, outgoing, and uproariously funny.  Yet she felt the same way I did.

Sometimes, when we are overcome with memories, it is hard to separate ourselves from the children we once were.  It is all to easy, even after twenty years, to stir up the pain of rejection and the embarassment of being an awkward teen among teens, trying to establish who we are when we really don’t even know what that means.

I think of it as a sort of psychological natural selection.  Eat or be eaten.

But with everything I am struggling with right now, I am seeing myself and all the people I grew up with much more clearly.  I can find that place in me that recognizes the people I didn’t like for who they were.  People just like me who were interrupted at some point, and it changed their trajectories.

I sometimes wish I could tell all those people who thought I was messing up my life that I couldn’t help it.  I learned some faulty coping mechanisms, and I used them well.

But I shouldn’t care what they think.  I should believe I have value no matter what anyone believes about me.  I should look at myself with the same compassion I have found for all those misguided children, so many years ago.

And some day, I will.

Heartbreak Hotel

Posted in Mental Stability, Motherhood with tags , , , , , , on January 26, 2009 by Ms. Ex

The other day I had the distinct pleasure of being able to say the following words to my teenager with a straight face:

“You had a healthier emotional upbringing than that.”

The conversation started because her on again off again boyfriend is back, and the girl he dated in the interim is none too happy.  She caused quite the ruckus in school a couple of weeks ago.  Now, I’m not saying my daughter is the picture of mental health.  She is, after all, my offspring.  But the other girl?  Can you say ‘borderline personality disorder’?  Hey, it takes one to know one.

My heart went out to her, really.  Which made me try to elicit some compassion from my daughter, or at least some graciousness in her victory in this love war.  But for some reason, even with all her vast life experience, she just can’t manage it.  Huh.

Anyway, I keep thinking about what I said to my daughter.  Do I really believe her upbringing was healthier than mine?  Sometimes I don’t.  It certainly didn’t start out that way, at least.  And it seems the things I most wanted to protect her from are already in play.

I don’t know how much of a chance I ever had as a parent.  And the only thing that keeps me hopeful is hearing that sometimes, just wanting to do the right thing can get you halfway there.

I have told her, perhaps too many times, that I don’t want her to be like me.  I don’t want her to go through what I did.  And she tells me it’s her greatest desire.  To not be like me.

I tell her that sometimes,  it’s mine too.

Lax Parenting Central

Posted in Motherhood with tags , , on November 2, 2008 by Ms. Ex

Since I’ve been so serious lately, I thought I might take a moment and provide some humor and some self-congratulations. Just when I thought I might be becoming too permissive a parent, I find something like this entry from Passive Agressive Notes, a milk-will-shoot-out-of-your-nose funny blog.

And then I think to myself – hey! At least YOUR kid does her own laundry.

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