On February 7, 2023 my debut Young Adult novel, BLACK LICORICE (INKED IN GRAY PRESS) will be released into the world. Freddi Birdoni loses her first best friend because he bails on her, so now she’s left with nothing but her flute, the ocean, piles of lip glosses, and the possibility of a new friendship with a spitfire “scientist” named Lorna. The story is about listening, trust, and growth.It’s also about people who love music and smashing things into pieces. I cannot wait for you to read it.
Enjoy a link to one of Freddi’s favorites: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N541HLPeG6Y
Last month I sent a text out to five moms whom I know have experienced the mystical teenage brain in full force, and I asked them to tell me how they instill grit and values in their kids in a world where we can give them a little more than we were given as kids. It’s not easy to teach grit when it’s not a necessary item.
My own quick take on the teen and grit:
I really believe our teenagers have as much to teach us as we teach them. They teach us to listen to what they’re really feeling. They teach us to trust them. And to trust ourselves with how we’ve raised them.
We teach them that the world is not fair and it will never revolve around their every need, and that sometimes people don’t follow rules, and it’s not always our job to enforce them. My daughter has taught me to believe in the possibility that maybe my singing days aren’t over, or that I am going to get that bestseller one day. LOL.
And I teach her that she can be the legend she wants to be, but first she has to learn things. Even if those things are boring. Teenagers in the house are both magical and tragical.
Enjoy Aly and Lillian’s take on what it’s like to raise teens. How they’ve both stumbled and succeeded. Immediately following their words, is a gorgeous poem by Juli W. a teenager herself. PEAR is a space I’ve crerated for teen voices. so if you know any teen writers, send them my way.
Thank you for reading.
Thoughts from Aly W. A parent of two teenage girls in NJ:
Everything the kids do seems to be done as part of a negotiation. “Can I go to the football game, I’ll clean my room right now.” Or, “Can I go to the mall, I’ll walk the dogs.” Usually, I want them to go out and enjoy themselves, and I really rarely even check to see if they did what they said they were going to do. But if I do check and they haven’t done it, then they either can’t do what they wanted to do or I bring them more on my timeline than theirs. This is particularly the case if they were supposed to do something for me (like clean the kitchen or make something for dinner).
The asking for help one was reversed the other day. I tell the kids to ask for help for a few reason, but mainly because I usually like to figure things out on my own, so when someone jumps in and finishes it, I get frustrated. But I also want the kids to know that it’s always ok to ask for help! The other day I was in the kitchen struggling with moving the rug under the table, and I was getting really frustrated. Julie was on the couch listening to music. I was struggling for a while and finally said, “Are you going to just sit there and watch me or are you going to help me”. To which she replied, “Mom, you always tell us to ask for help if we need it”. Touché. Head down, I said, “Sorry Julie, can you please help me.” I guess she does listen to me.
Finish what you start. This mostly comes out in the fall when the leaves fall and we have 50 bags to rake up. The kids come outside, we set up our plan of attack, and then they start raking. Two minutes later, one of them is tired, the other wants to walk to Wawa. Martha Focker, it’s frustrating. I try really hard to be patient, but sometimes enough is enough & I just have to tell them to get outside and finish it with me. Those raking days are terrible, and we hate them together, but once the rakes are away the sense of relief and accomplishment is great. Now you can go to Wawa! 😉
When the kids were little, they were promised things (a trip to iFly, a trip to the mall, a play date with a neighbor, etc) by friends or family members and would get so frustrated and disappointed if the person didn’t follow through with their promise. They’d be upset, and I’d be in the position of trying to calm them down. Eventually it turned into a real-life lesson on who they can trust and how to set realistic expectations of various people. So now the kids understand how it feels to be on the other side of this and work hard on not making promises they can’t keep so they aren’t the cause of others feeling the disappointment they’ve felt.
Thoughts on a teen by Lillian S:
What do you mean I have to give you my phone by 10 pm? What do you mean I have to get off Tik Tok? What do you mean I can’t order from Starbucks today(the 3rd time this week?)
If you are a parent of a teenager like I am, these questions are just some of the 100s that begin with, “What do you mean?”
Sometimes when I refer to my daughter as a “Meanager” I mean just that! She is acting like a mean teenager: playing music too loudly, staying up too late, and yelling at me too much. But as a mom, I am somewhat accepting of it. Mean and teens go hand in hand. I know when I was a teenager, sometimes I too could be mean to my mom. Other moms have shared their experiences about their daughters (whose names will be anonymous) so I know that this is somewhat the norm.
But “meanager” has another definition as well. Meanagers, like my daughter, do not know what it means to have grown up in the 1980s with just the basics: one pair of sneakers, lunch money for the week, a shared landline telephone, and a cable-free tv in the living room. We have to show our children what we mean.
Today, my daughter has many luxuries and does not realize they are luxuries: clothing, shoes, sports, and other activities. So how did it come about that my teen/mean daughter has a work ethic and a sense of accountability even though she swims in material excess? I would like to think she has a keen sense of observation. Now that might not be the advice or answer that you are seeking however children are great imitators. And not only are they imitators of each other on Til Tok etc, but they also imitate their parents.
As a role model, I am not perfect, however she has observed some of my more positive attributes and habits. She has seen me get up for work each day for the past 14 years. When I go off to teach, I am well-dressed, happy, and have a positive attitude. When she gets ready for school, she is well-dressed, content, and has a positive attitude. To take this a step further she juggles school, sports, friends, and even a part-time job (that she took the initiative to get!) So when she acts like a mean teen, I remember that she is also a “meanager” looking for meaning and answers in her life. She might have more stuff and opportunities as a teenager than I did growing up, however, somehow there is a sense of a work ethic and accountability. Having a work ethic and knowing she is accountable will add true meaning to her life.
PEAR: a safe, open space for teenage voices:
By Julianna W. age 14, RI
When sunlit days become memories
When ocean waves turn cold
Will I stop dancing barefoot?
Could I ever grow too old?
It seems the years go faster
While I live these days I’m glad
But when I look back, at summer’s end
Will these good times make me sad?
Now, I can run wild through the grass
Chasing sunbeams, feeling free.
But when it ends, how much it hurts,
When I’m missing how it used to be.
Summer always comes back again
But it will never be the same.
No year is like the one before
Because I’ll have grown and changed.
It seems like moving on means losing things
I’ll never get back these days.
Will I still have time for happiness?
Will I remember my old ways?
Sunny days never last as long
As winter’s bitter squalls
Another chapter always has to end
When the leaves began to fall
Someday I’ll only have the memories
I won’t be a child anymore
And when summer comes around again
It will never be like before
My sunlit days are ending.
Now will my joy turn cold?
Is this my last time dancing barefoot
Before I grow too old?