Teen Translator

Finally, news I can use. Last Sunday’s ZITS comic has a fantastic invention for parents of teens: The Teen Translator. Enjoy…

zits

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The Next Big Step

15 and a half years ago, she had absolutely no freedom. She was completely confined to the womb–barely able to move at all. Birth was a huge step forward as she was able to flail her arms and legs about as she wished. After this, there was a steady stream of increased independence during the first year or so:

  • She started turning over on her own
  • She began crawling
  • She took those first steps
  • She learned how to run

The rate of new freedoms slowed down significantly after this and became more subtle: She was able to spend the night at a friend’s house for the first time, she learned how to ride a bike, she learned how to make a simple meal for herself, etc. All small, but important, steps to growing up.

However, one of the biggest rites of passage and strides forward in freedom and independence took place today. Yes, the Older Daughter is now Idaho’s newest licensed driver. I have feelings ranging from happiness to sadness to worry to excitement. In the end, I realize that I have to let this happen even if it means my little girl just keeps growing up. It’s my job to provide her with the knowledge and tools to have the best chance at success (and safety). Beyond that, it’s in God’s hands.

I’m so proud of her.

Hey, She’s Still Paying Attention

I really thought that as of 2 or 3 years ago, the Older Daughter no longer cared about my opinion nor was at all influenced by me. It really seemed that she was in her own teen world and had it all figured out–at least in her opinion. Well, I found out this week that I actually do still have some influence.

Her high school held a mock election on Tuesday. I asked her who she voted for and she told me. When I asked how she came to the decision, she said that she really didn’t know who to vote for. But she knew who I was voting for, so that’s who she chose. Now of course that’s not the right way to pick a president, but it made me smile that she thought enough of my judgement to make the same choice.

Then last night we were at Wal-Mart picking up a few things. Homemade dinner was not in the cards, so we we picked up some stuff at the deli. The Older Daughter and I both chose the turkey sandwich and threw them in the basket. Then I noticed her checking the shelf again. Pretty soon, she grabbed this huge turkey sandwich and put the smaller ones back. It seems that she noticed that the huge sandwich was roughly equivalent to 3 of the smaller sandwiches but was cheaper than the 2 we were going to buy. When I complimented her for noticing, she said “I learned it from you.” More smiling on my part.

Just when you think you have lost them, they go and show you they are still watching and learning from you after all.

Halloween Night Wrap-Up

It seemed that the night had such promise. After all, it was Halloween on a Friday night. No need to watch the clock and worry about getting to bed at a certain time. Just party and watch scary movies as late as we want, right? Not so much. In the end, it was a pretty big letdown on all fronts…

Of course, the Older Daughter is too old for trick-or-treating. Instead, she spent the evening/night at a friends house. No surprise there.

The Younger Daughter also went to a friend’s house and her mom took them trick-or-treating.

Now that we live out in the country, we don’t get any trick-or-treater visiting the house.

Our best friends have traditionally joined us for an all night scary movie marathon when Halloween is on a weekend. However, they were unable to join us this year.

The Wife and I stayed home and watched some horror movies. Unfortunately, we chose movies that we had already seen multiple times, so we found ourselves actually laughing at the movies rather than being scared.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a nice quiet evening together. However, this was the first time since we became parents that we didn’t take kids out trick-or-treating. It think we were both mourning the passage of yet another parenthood ritual as we watch our girls grown up much faster than we would like. Sure, the Younger Daughter still has probably 1-2 years left, so we’ll probably be able to enjoy it at least one more outing. However, the writing is clearly on the wall.

Driver’s Edge

Several weeks ago, I took the Older Daughter to Reno for the Driver’s Edge program. This is a free program that takes driver’s education to the next level. Frankly, driver’s education in this country is pathetic. Teens are basically taught how to pass a driver’s test–not how handle extreme driving situations in a way that can save their lives. This is where Driver’s Edge comes in. It is a free half-day program to teach teens techniques that can save their lives.

There is short classroom component, but the most valuable portion of the training is the behind-the-wheel time. In a closed training facility, they are taught how to maneuver a car out of skid, evasive lane manuevers, proper use of anti-lock braking, and panic braking. Traditional driver’s education program may talk about these situations, but there’s nothing like hands-on learning.

Before going, I don’t think she was really looking forward to it nor did she think that it would be worthwhile. However, she admitted afterwards that it was worth attending and that she felt more confident about handling dangerous situations.

The number one killer of teens is not drugs, alcohol, or violence–it’s car crashes. I highly recommend this program for all teen drivers. Again, it is completely free. Unfortunately, they only tour to a little over a dozen cities at this time. If you have a teen driver, make a weekend of it and travel to a city where they are touring. If yours are still too young, keep this in mind when they get there.

Check out Driver’s Edge here.

Warming Parental Flashback

The Older Daughter was washing her comforter this evening, but it didn’t get dry before bedtime. She headed to bed, but asked me bring it in after it was dry, throw it over her, and tuck her in. I smiled. I was more than happy to oblige. This is something that I haven’t had the privilege of doing for a lot of years.

If you have followed me for awhile, you know that I sometimes miss having younger kids and some of the mundane rituals that went along with it. Just a few minutes ago, I took the nice, warm comforter out of the dryer, put it gently over her, and tucked it in around her. Then I gave her a kiss on the forehead and whispered “I love you” into her ear. It was priceless and made my day.

Cool Dad?

Thanks to John for this one. These things are always of questionable accuracy, but this one seems to have hit the nail on the head for me. I’m not really interested in being “cool”. I’m interested in being a good father. Don’t get me wrong, I’m goofy and have lots of fun with the kids. But in the end, you do need to have reasonable rules and structure.


You Will Not Be a Cool Parent


And that’s pretty okay. While your kids may not think of you as a friend, they will respect you.You know that kids need discipline and structure, and you’re not afraid to give it to them.Just be careful that your strictness doesn’t lead to rebellion.

It’s good to have standards and rules, but you don’t need to have an iron fist when enforcing them.