Teen Translator

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

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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.

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.

Childhood Flashback: Saturday Nights

As a child, I lived in a small town and we were pretty poor. So Saturday nights were pretty simple. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not complaining. In fact, I’m actually thinking back on those nights with a great deal of fondness. The evening largely revolved around watching TV. Let’s take a look at the Saturday evening lineup that dominated most of my first 12 years:

  • Wild Kingdom: Marlin Perkins was a pioneer of wildlife shows filmed in the field. He set the stage for the many shows that would follow–arguably even the development of the Animal Planet network. I have always loved animals, so I enjoyed his weekly adventure in the wild. Having said that, he certainly was not as brave as people like Steve Irwin. Do you remember that he would be hovering in the safety of his helicopter while his staff would do much of the dirty, dangerous work? Just an observation. I also remember the annoying Mutual of Omaha (the show’s title sponsor) commercials . I can still hear the song to this day: “Mutual of Omaha is people…you can count on when the going’s rough.”
  • Hee Haw: This was a corny, but enjoyable, country variety show. It had a mix of country music, comedy skits, and corny jokes and puns. For most of the years, I enjoyed the corny entertainment. However, as my teen years approached, I also developed an appreciation for the buxom Southern belles that adorned the show.
  • Lawrence Welk: This was another variety show, but more sophisticated than Hee Haw (okay, that’s not saying much). It was also corny, but on a different level. I see it today and say to myself: “What were you thinking?” Yet every year, when PBS has it’s annual fundraiser, I find myself watching the Lawrence Welk special and enjoying the quick trip back 30 years.
  • Portland Wrestling: Prior to the 80s, “professional” wrestling was largely a local affair. Each large city had its own wrestling association. The matches were held in relatively shabby buildings. The wrestlers were gritty, working-class guys that just wanted to beat the crap out of each other. Of course, it was just as fake back then as today. However, it seemed more realistic than today’s highly commercialized, glamorous, wrestling productions. We lived in western Oregon at the time, so we tuned in to Portland Wrestling every Saturday night without fail. Throughout the 80s, these local venues slowly faded away. Very few of the wrestlers were able to make the transition to the new, highly polished package of the new professional wrestling. One notable exception was one that you might recognize. Former wrestler and Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura got his start in Portland back in the 70s. I even have his autograph from attending a live event!

Another memorable part of Saturday night: popcorn. I’m not talking about microwave popcorn or a popcorn machine–I’m talking about cooking it in a pan! First, pour in enough oil to cover the pan bottom. Next, add the corn–but not too much or it will push the lid off during popping and popcorn will go every where. Once the corn starts to pop, slide the pan frenetically back and forth across the burner to keep it from burning. When the popping stops, dump the popcorn into a bowl. Top it off with melted butter and a few shakes of salt. It may just be fond memories, but I don’t think any of our “modern” methods of cooking popcorn has yet topped the popcorn I last had over 20 years ago now.

If you grew up during the 80s or after, this may have been a fairly boring post for you. But for those of you that lived through the 70s, I’m hoping that I was able to spark a fond memory that you haven’t thought about for awhile. Feel free to reply with your own Saturday night memories or post your own and give me a shout back.

Dumbest Person, Part II

You may recall from an earlier post (I’m The Dumbest Person On The Planet) that The Older Daughter apparently doesn’t think I have the brains to read a movie listing in the newspaper. And that because of this, I believe she now thinks that I have no more functioning brain cells.

Well, it is with deepest regret that I announce the death of The Wife’s last brain cell today. Let me explain. The Daughters have been in soccer for many years now–I think we figured out 10 years to be exact. The Older Daughter quit playing a few years back, but now wants to get back into it. Well, of course, all the gear (shin guards, shoes, etc.) is now too small.

So The Wife is talking with the Older Daughter and saying that they need to go gear shopping soon. You would have thought that The Wife had grown a third eye. The Older Daughter could not fathom that mom could know anything about what kind of items were needed to play soccer. Nope, The Wife has been doing this shopping for 10 years and even coached for a few years, but how could she possibly know what is needed? The Older Daughter thinks that a soccer-playing friend of hers is some sort of gear expert, so she wants to go with her. I get it, she’d rather go shopping with her friend than mom. Why not just say that rather than implying that mom could have no idea how to shop for these items? Oh well, such is parenting in the perilous teenage years.

Anyway honey, sorry about the loss of that last brain cell. You’re in good company with me now.