8 Reasons My Kids Are Not My Facebook Friends

Lisa writes: Don’t get me wrong, I wish my kids were my Facebook friends.  I wish they wanted to share their most embarrassing moments with me. I wish they wanted me to know everything about their high school and college lives. Frankly, I would be happy to stalk them and would love nothing better than to pry into their Snapchat or eavesdrop on their GroupMes.

social media

But the mom part of me that would love a window into their social media does battle everyday with the mom part of me that is proud they are grown and have lives of their own. These two warring halves of motherhood, the half that wants to know and the half that feels I shouldn’t, are locked in a fierce battle and I have declared my childrens’ privacy the victor.

I can be pretty envious of moms who have access to their kids online lives, but for me there are some compelling reasons to stay away.

1. They need to navigate on their own.

At first I thought social media and teens a toxic and frightening combination. But over time I have come to see that if billions of people can handle this challenge, so can my kids. Reflecting my own naiveté, at one time I thought there were baddies online who would come and find my kids through their Facebook accounts. Soon I saw that, just as kids of my generation were allowed to wander free, with our parents giving us rules and advice about dangers and strangers, my kids would need to learn to wander online without me.

2. It might be time to move on.

I want to stalk my sons and would love to drop into their lives and see the photos of their every move. The journey to the empty nest has not been an easy one for me  and I don’t feel the relief that some other parents do that my kids have left home. Despite that, I know that in some ways, for them and me, it is time to move on. By not being able to follow them on social media, I am probably doing all of us a favor.

3. It is their world.

Social media is a combination of the notes we once passed in class or slid into each others’ lockers and the secrets we whispered into the wall-mounted phone. Social media is both the gossip mill of the playground and the private missives between friends and I need to let my kids find their way. They deserve the same privacy we had even if the platform for that has changed.

4. They can run and hide.

Stalking my kids on Facebook was never going to turn up their misdeeds or anything, in fact, that they did not want me to know. Teens trying to hide something from their parents have plenty of places to do so. If I insist that they friend me on Facebook, they can move to Instagram, and if I hunt them down there they can scurry to Snapchat. Eventually they will find a social media platform, (Ello, anyone?) that I have not heard of.

5. Online there is no context.

Have you ever seen a teenage drama online and worried frantically only to discover it was over in an hour? I once called the mother of one of my then middle school son’s friends to tell her I had seen a message the daughter had left for my son (on my computer) which said, “I am going to have to kill myself.” I was wreck all night and could not sleep. First thing in the morning I called the girl’s mother, reasoning that I would not be able to live with myself otherwise. The mother of this girl laughed and said that the phrase was every other word out of her daughter’s mouth. I wondered if I really wanted to know what they say online when I have no context for it in real life.

6. It’s time to get off the “roller coaster.”

Do I really want to ride the rollercoaster of the ups and downs of teen and young adult life at that level of minutiae? In a wonderful piece about how to parent teens and young adults, Lisa Belkin advises to get off the roller coaster. We do not need to ride every up and down of their lives with them, to be there for them. We can be the supportive, constructive adults without living through their every emotional moment. Staying on the ground is much easier to do if you are not with them on Facebook.

7. I would be even more embarrassing if we were Facebook friends.

For many years my kids were embarrassed that I even existed. The last thing they needed was that embarrassment in real life and cyberspace.

8. Staying off their social media does not mean disconnecting technologically.

My kids and I are in an endless conversation on text and my window onto their world is widened with a stream of amusing, poignant and pedestrian photos they share with me. When something makes them smile, reminds them of home or they are just looking for my opinion, I get pictures. Sure the content is curated just for mom, but I am wondering if that isn’t just as it should be.

Christmas Trifle and Love Lost

Guest blogger, Cathy Donovan, writes:  Certain women have the luck of marrying men who love to cook. I was not one of them.  My husband Tommy was a tall, lanky Irishman, with cornflower blue eyes and a wide smile. He could make a respectable soft-boiled egg, but that’s about it.  However, he did make one thing and only at Christmas time.

Tommy was born of Irish parents, and a Christmas pudding was always at his holiday table, along with a trifle. When he first proposed making trifle for my family, I had visions of a fancy confection with homemade custard in a footed Waterford dish. His trifle was far more down to Earth, a simple layering and mixing of seven ingredients. The recipe was long ago perfected by Tommy’s two aunts, Delia and Sheila, who lived to be 100 and 101, each drank a Smirnoff martini daily, with an olive, not a twist and shared their recipe with us.

Christmas Trifle recipe - 1 pkg. lady fingers; split 1 can drained fruit cocktail;1 sm. pkg. strawberry Jello; 1 sm. pkg. instant lemon or vanilla pudding; whipped cream. Split lady fingers and arrange on bottom and sides of glass bowl. Add fruit cocktail to lady fingers. Prepare Jello, pour over fruit and lady fingers. Chill until firm. When it's firm, prepare instant pudding and pour over Jello. Chill. Garnish with whipped cream and maraschino cherries.

One Christmas eve, as our small daughter Molly watched, Tommy tied an apron on his 6’3” frame and began making the trifle. He gathered the ingredients I had purchased for him: fruit cocktail, Jell-O (yes, Jell-O!), strawberry jam, Birds English Custard mix, heavy cream for whipping and the essential ladyfingers. And the rum. That was most important ingredient.

As the snow fell, Tommy prepared his trifle. He boiled water for the Jell-O and let it set.  He lined a Pyrex lasagna dish with ladyfingers and told us of Christmases spent with his aunts and cousins in Vermont when the aunts cooked this very same the trifle. When he finished layering all of his ingredients he spread the top with whipped cream and decorated it with 6 maraschino cherries, cut in half and arranged in 2 simple lines. The trifle was then put in the fridge where it spent the night awaiting my family the next day. That Christmas was the third of 24 Christmases that Tommy, Molly and I spent together, with our families, serving the trifle. My mother was partial to the trifle, as was most anyone who tasted it.  Tommy’s trifle became the most requested dessert at our Christmas table.

Christmas 2008 marked my 25th year of marriage and it passed with Molly and me on our own. Tommy died unexpectedly after a short battle with cancer early in that year. He lingers deep inside of both of us, our Christmases together a clear and enduring memory. I cannot bring myself to make the trifle any longer. I don’t have the touch. Maybe one day I will make it again. But sometimes at Christmas, when I see the array of cookies and cakes set out underneath the flicker of candles burning low, I think of that trifle and have longing to taste it and to hear his voice again, just for a moment, a single second.

Editor’s Note: Though not exactly like the recipe in the story, here is a recipe for your Christmas trifle.  Feel free to add rum!

ENGLISH TRIFLE

1 pkg. lady fingers, split
1 can fruit cocktail, drained
1 sm. pkg. strawberry Jello
1 sm. pkg. instant lemon or vanilla pudding
Whipped cream
Split lady fingers and arrange on bottom and sides of a glass bowl. Drain fruit cocktail, add to lady fingers. Prepare Jello, pour over fruit and lady fingers. chill until firm. When it’s firm, prepare instant pudding according to directions on the box and pour over Jello. Chill. Garnish with whipped cream and maraschino cherries, if desired.

Photo credit: Amy Lenzo

 

 

Holiday Gift Guide: 25 Under $25 for College Students and Young Adults

Mary Dell writes: Looking for inspiration for holiday gifts for a high schooler, soon to leave for college or a recent grad in her first apartment?  We browsed real and virtual aisles at The Container Store, Nike, Apple, J Crew, Microsoft, LL Bean, and Amazon and found these ideas so, look no further! Here is our Holiday Gift Guide: 25 Ideas Under $25.

1. Electric Kettle < Hamilton Beach Ensemble Cord Free Pouring Kettle

Kids in college and those right out of school have one thing in common: living space with tiny (or nonexistent) kitchens. Having an ability to boil water for tea or hot chocolate is a little bit of luxury achievable with this cute electric kettle.

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 6.56.42 PM2. Card game Cards Against Humanity

Sometimes a grown up toy is just what our grown up kids will love the most.

Cards Against Humanity- gifts under $25

3. Scratch Map Luckies of London Scratch Map (USLUSCR)

How to rekindle memories of all those family vacations or inspire discussions about study abroad? This scratch map would be a perfect way to brighten up a drab dorm wall.

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4. Battery charger  Jackery® Mini Premium iPhone Charger 3200mAh Power Pack – Ultra-Compact Aluminum Portable Battery Charger External Battery Pack for Apple iPhone 6 Plus, 6, 5S, 5C, 5, 4S, iPad, Air, Mini, Samsung Galaxy S5, S4, S3, Note, Nexus, LG, HTC, Moto. Power Bank, iPad Charger, Portable Charger, Backup Battery, External Charger, USB Battery Charger (Orange)

This little charger packs a big punch with a wide range of devices.

 

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5. Ironing mat As Seen on TV IRONEMO-MC24 Iron Express the Original Portable Ironing Pad

Wearing a wrinkled shirt to class may not trouble your college student but he should look crisp for an interview.  Space saving ironing mat to the rescue!

Ironing mat - gifts under $25

6. Sunbeam hot shot Sunbeam 6131 Hot Shot Hot Water Dispenser, Black

How cute is this cup-at-a-time hot water dispenser?  This is a great choice for a dorm room.

Sunbeam hot shot- gifts under $25

 

7. Lap top desk LapGear Classic Original Wood Lapdesk (45364)

Your college student will study in bed as much as at her desk so help make it easier and safer to do so with this handsome, and non flammable, laptop desk.

 

laptop desk - gifts under $25

8. Dorm safe SentrySafe P005CBL 0.05 Cubic Foot Combination Compact Safe, Blue

Wallet, passport, valuable jewelry all fit snugly in this dorm safe.

Dorm safe - gifts under $25

9. Brita water filter Brita Slim Water Filter Pitcher, 5 Cup

Buying cases of water in water bottles is costly, environmentally wrong and a space hog.  A Brita water system solves each of these problems.

Brita Pitcher - gifts under $25

10. Whirley Pop popcorn Wabash Valley Farms 25008 Whirley-Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper

Better tasting than microwave-cooked popcorn, this Whirley Pop claims to cook without sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Whirley pop - gifts under $2511. Storage hanging bag 

Storage is at a premium in apartment living.  This is a stylish, lightweight, and inexpensive way to add extra shelf space in a closet that has none.  Plus, as young adults move frequently, this “built-in” is one they can take with them to their next abode.

Container Store hanging bag - gifts under $25

12. Serving tray 

This tray, in cheery lacquered red, will add a festive touch to any apartment.  Extremely versatile, it could find a home in the kitchen, living room or bedroom. Container Store red tray - gifts under $25

 

13. Ceiling bike lift 

Holding a bike up to 50 pounds, this unique bike life mounts on a ceiling, freeing up floor space.

Container Store bike lift - gifts under $25

14. Mixing bowls 

For those getting used to cooking for themselves for the first time, a set of mixing bowls is a must-have.  Here is a cute set we would love, too!

Container Store mixing bowls - gifts under $2515.  Nike kit bag

This cute Nike bag is the perfect size to go inside a gym bag for storing keys, ID, and other essentials.

Nike kit bag - gifts under $25

16.  Nike Elite socks

Socks may seem like a mundane purchase, but how about a new pair as a stocking stuffer?

Nike socks - gifts under $25

 

17. Apple organizing bag

Who doesn’t need help rounding up their collection of gadgets, cords, and chargers?

Apple store organizing bag - gifts under $25

18. Apple laptop lock

Losing a laptop is a traumatic experience.  Consider packing off your college student with a combination laptop lock like this one. Apple store laptop lock - gifts under $25

 

19. Noika headphones

Brightly colored and an upgrade from the basic ear buds that come with many devices, check out these headphones.

Microsoft store Nokia headphones - gifts under $25

 

20. Nokia Coloud Bang speaker

Lightweight and capable of eight hours of playing time, this Nokia speaker can enhance the quality of listening with any device. Microsoft store Nokia speaker - gifts under $25

21. J Crew headband

A festive touch for your college daughter, this J Crew headband is adorable with just the right amount of glitz for the holidays.

J Crew headband - gifts under $2522. J Crew boxers

And, a festive gift for your college son!

J Crew boxers - gifts under $25

23. LL Bean tote bag

A classic, this small-size tote comes from one of our all-time favorite store, LL Bean.

LL Bean tote bag - gifts under $25

 

24.LL Bean ragg wool hat

We can only hope that our kids wears a hat when it is freezing cold outside. With this ragg wool hat, lined with micro fleece inside, they just might do it!

LL Bean ragg wool hat - gifts under $25

25. LL Bean Nantucket bike basket

We fell in love with this Nantucket bike basket.  Maybe your young adult daughter will, too.

LL Bean Nantucket bike basket - gifts under $25

Bonus idea! 

Millennials love a gift of experience even more than a “thing” so consider a gift certificate for your young adult: car rentals, Zipcar, Getaround, Uber, Lyft, airlines, sporting event, classes, college book store, philanthropy, museum membership.

Early Decision, Regular Decision, No Decision

Guest blogger, Darryle Pollack, writes: I finished college in 1971, a member of the first class of women to graduate from Yale. I would not describe myself as overly ambitious–still, I like to be first, and I like to be best. Of course I want the same for my children. And I have to confess, by this stage of my life, I feel as if my kids have become one of the standards by which I am judged. Pack them off to the Ivy League, early decision if possible, and you get an A-plus.

College graduate - "better late than never."

So when people ask where my 21-year-old daughter is going to college, I wish I could answer that she’s following in my footsteps. But Alli’s not at Yale. She’s not in the Ivy League. She’s not at UCLA, or USC, or even CSU. My daughter took her 4.0 average from a top California prep school, and she went to UPS–United Parcel Service.

At her high school graduation, I had to congratulate all those other parents who had brilliantly aced the child-rearing final I had so clearly failed. That summer, while my friends were attending parent orientations on college campuses, my daughter was moving into a shabby apartment and shipping boxes for other people’s children heading off to start their adult lives.

I came to dread running into the mothers of Alli’s former classmates. With Kathy, Alli’s status came up in the third question, right after “How are you doing?” (busy) and “How’s your husband?” (traveling a lot).

“Alli’s great,” I deflected. “How’s Lauren?”

I received a rundown on her relationship (over), her major (economics), her summer internship (amazing experience!) and her plans for grad school (Hopefully NYU or UCLA). Then she circled back…

“So, what’s Alli up to?”

I sighed inside.

“Working really hard.” (It’s the truth.)

“Did she ever go to college?”

Perky as possible. “Not yet.”

Kathy gave me the look to which I have become accustomed–concern mixed with pity.

That first year, I’d mumble something about Alli taking a year off–which seemed acceptable, even trendy. Three years later, the story’s tougher to spin.

Some parents feel burdened by the college application process. I actually looked forward to it. For years I had interviewed prospective students for my alma mater, and I always welcomed any contact with academia. I daydreamed about visiting beautiful campuses with Alli, and allowed myself to imagine what could be the end result. Providence? New Haven? Princeton?

Then one afternoon during Alli’s sophomore year, as I was driving her home from field hockey practice, I suggested we visit the University of Pennsylvania during our annual Thanksgiving trip East to my family in Washington, D.C.

“You promised I could visit Jen.”

“Jen lives right outside Philadelphia. We could stop first at Penn.”

She pouted. “But then I lose time with Jen.”

“Aren’t you curious? Just to see it?”

My real agenda remained unspoken. We can start with Penn, and soon I’ll take you to New Haven.

It was a textbook mother-daughter moment. She had studied her subject for a lifetime and knew the course material inside out.

“It’s a waste of time. And you can forget about me going to Yale.”

Bulls-eye.

“There is no way I’m going to college on the East Coast.”

“How do you know if you haven’t even seen these places?” I tried to keep my eyes on the road.

“I just know. You always think I’ll want to go, but I don’t. I told you I wanted to go to UCLA.”

Yes, she did–back when she was six and thought she’d want to live with me forever.

But she had a point. The East Coast idea had begun with me and remained there. It had never taken root in her heart. She loves California, and she hates to fly. Okay, so now I knew. I would not push her to apply.

By junior year, Alli was announcing her intention to take a year off before beginning college. I was calm. Teenagers are fickle, I thought. Maybe she’ll change her mind.

But senior year came, and Alli had not abandoned her idea of taking time off. Still, the college process continued. She had the grades,the scores, the resume–and dutifully got her applications in by Thanksgiving.

That spring, as each fat envelope arrived, I allowed myself to hope. I remember handing her the UCLA envelope, with a big smile. I don’t remember her smiling back.

“What did she say about UCLA? ” her father wanted to know when he called me that night. We had remained cordial after our divorce eight years earlier. I had remarried and moved with the kids 300 miles away. We usually spoke a few times a week; during this time we were speaking several times a day. Neither of us was sleeping.

“She didn’t say anything.”

“Well, what should we do?”

I had no answer for him. I had no answer for myself. I had been to college, however, and I knew basic child psychology: Whatever her parents wanted, she would do the opposite.

“Don’t pressure her.”

“Okay”, he agreed. “Just remember she only has until May 1.”

Actually, we only had until May 1. Alli had all the time in the world.

One morning Alli appeared downstairs with a fistful of letters.

“What’s that?” I asked, in the most casual way I could possibly make myself sound.

“Just the letters to the schools, telling them I’m not going.”

Gulp. “All of them?”

“Uh-huh.” A quick wave and she escaped out the door.

What had I done wrong? She was my first child, and I had been an overprotective mother. Had I crippled her, was she afraid to venture out into the world alone?

She had attended the best playgroups, classes, schools, lessons. if one program didn’t meet my expectations, I switched her into a better one. Had I created a perfectionist who would never be satisfied?

She had always been self-motivated and intellectually precocious: from age two, when she taught herself to read, through high school, when she studied three languages. Had I allowed her to burn out?

I had put parenting ahead of my television journalism career. Now it seemed I had failed at the most important job I’d ever held.

Family and friends tried to comprehend and covered their shock with love and logic: “Colleges like kids who take a year off before entering.” “It’s just typical teenage rebellion. She’ll be bored with UPS in two weeks.”

I wanted to believe them.

Once she was living in the real world, I thought, Alli would learn her lesson. Surely she would enter college by February.

So much for mother’s radar. College is still waiting, and so am I. And yet, life goes on–hers, and mine.

How many times do we say to our children: “Don’t do something just because the other kids do it…think for yourself.” At 18, Alli was doing just that. She had learned the lesson, and now it was my turn.

During the past three years I’ve watched in awe as my daughter developed life skills that I did not grasp until I was twice her age.

Making just over minimum wage, she has managed to live on her own, paying all her expenses, even buying a car. She knows all about insurance, credit ratings, interest rates. Before her friends left for college, Alli passed an exam, which she says was harder than the AP tests, and became a notary public (her first advanced degree, I tell friends). She has no assigned books anymore, but she reads things that most of us don’t–such as the full text of every candidate’s statement and proposition on the California ballot. She hasn’t taken a math class in three years, but she does her own taxes.

Alli will never get a bid from a sorority, but she got a promotion to manager of a UPS store, running a business by age 20. She understands a lot about real life and about who she is.

Most important of all, she is infinitely happier, more confident, and more comfortable with herself than she was in high school–in fact, more than she has ever been.

Okay, it’s not New Haven. But I have learned to be proud of my daughter. I’ve discovered that parenting is far more difficult than anything I ever had to learn at Yale. It’s a tutorial that never ends, but I’m hoping to speed up the learning curve with my other child, Daniel, a high school junior. (I’m almost hesitant to write that he’s eagerly looking forward to college–I don’t want to jinx anything.)

Alli says that she will go to college when she decides what she wants to be–and she plans to pay for her own education. With her characteristic independence, determination and maturity, I know she will do what she says. Ultimately she will choose a career that is meaningful, challenging and right for her–and a school where she can get the education to make it happen.

Meanwhile, I still feel a stab of pain when I hear about someone else’s child who has just graduated from Yale, passed the bar, entered medical school or gotten an incredible job. I have invested as much as any other mother has in her child. But now I know I need to be invested less in her success on my terms, than in her happiness and well-being on her terms. I owe her that. And in return, she’s given me a precious gift: knowing she will always be able to take care of herself.

College graduate

Editor’s note: After attending five colleges over seven years,  Alli graduated in May, 2011, from California State University at Fullerton.

Darrlye Pollack

Darryle Pollack is a writer, inspirational speaker, and role model for resilience, with her TED talk, blog and upcoming book all titled I Never Signed up For This…. An early adopter of social media and blogging, Darryle is also a leading voice for women online, with her writing featured on websites including the Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Purple Clover, and as BlogHer Voice of the Year.

This is Adolescence: 18

Lisa writes: 18 is a year overflowing with contradictions. Eighteen wants to be a child forever and yet he cannot wait to grow up. He loves his house and cannot wait to leave it. Eighteen is our teen living in our home and in the same momentous year, an adult residing in another state. On the eve of his 18th birthday it seems almost as if nothing has changed and then one morning in August everything is different.

18 is a year of contradictions, of being our child at home and an adult living in another state.

18 is the year I have dreaded since the day he was born. It is the year that I will begin to know him a little less, the year when more of his life happens away from our family than within it. But 18 is also the year I am most grateful for, that as his childhood ends it has been filled with joy and he has thrived wrapped in our love and that of his brothers.

Eighteen cannot believe he is 18. When I tell him that he must register for the selective service and to vote, that I can no longer deal with his doctor, the health insurance company or his college housing office, he is taken aback. Eighteen wants to be an adult, but not if it means a lot of paperwork.

Eighteen wants to spend every spare minute with his friends. He dreads the day when one by one they will leave for college and he tells me how much he will miss them, how much their closeness has meant to him and that he hopes they will stay that way forever. While I am indebted to these wonderful boys who have taught my son so much about friendship, I ignore the tightness in my throat and do not say that I feel the same way about him.

Eighteen is a writer. He hears words and their lyrical cadence in a way that leaves me in awe. He seems to know the natural crescendo of a good story and holds the reader in his grasp. He does not believe my praise, parents are biased, what do we know? His English teacher offers him wonderful encouragement suggesting he write more. I whisper a private prayer of thanks to the gods of high school education.

Eighteen is an athlete and, as a senior, a team captain. He has always been the youngest but finds himself suddenly a role model for younger boys. I watch him learn to lead. In the heat of a game he grapples with his own emotions, keeping them mostly under control as he attempts to inspire those around him. I whisper more thanks to more gods who have given my child this chance to grow.

Eighteen needs to show me he is a grown up, even at the times when I know that he is not. When he is unhappy with me he reminds me that soon he will be gone and then I will not be able to tell him what to do. Eighteen tells me this both because he wants me to acknowledge his independence and because he wants to hurt me that little bit, because in getting ready to go, some small part of him is hurting too.

When Eighteen defies me, I can see that my arsenal for controlling him is severely depleted.

Eighteen is brimming with confidence. His confidence comes from the physical strength and stamina of youth, from being surrounded by those who have known and loved him most or all of his life and from the fact that we may all be at our most beautiful the summer of our 18th birthdays.

Eighteen loves senior year in high school and life at the top of the social food chain. He loves knowing most of the teachers and coaches in his high school and the way they have begun to treat him and the other seniors like young adults. While I delight in seeing him so at ease in his world, I also know that there is nobody less secure than a college freshman.

Eighteen thinks the drinking age is 18. I am the bearer of bad news.

Eighteen thinks he should not have a curfew. I bear more bad news.

Eighteen’s personal hygiene is impeccable. He has never needed to be reminded to shower or brush his teeth. He rarely leaves a mess in the house and usually cleans any garbage from my car when he borrows it. Yet, Eighteen still leaves every article of dirty clothing on his bedroom floor. He has been told 4,287 that there is a laundry hamper in his room. Fearing that he has forgotten, I remind him again. He wonders why I do this, and so do I. Surely there is a point where I should give up, but how will I know when that is?

Eighteen is changing in his older brothers’ eyes. Getting ready to go off to college he somehow seems to be getting closer to them in age. Siblings loom so large in our lives.  Eighteen has lived a life in awe of them and all that they could do whether it was ride a bike without training wheels, drive a car or just stay up late. But now he has done things that they never did and they are a bit in awe of him.

In the summer before he leaves, Eighteen wants to push his father and me away and hold onto us at the same time. I am told that as the reality of their leaving begins to confront some kids, they “soil the nest,” at times giving parents some of their very worst behavior. I try to remember that this is temporary and that if I have learned anything about parenting it is that a markedly changed adolescent will be returned to me come the winter holidays.

Eighteen lies on the floor petting his dog. I am in the next room, but I can hear him telling her that he will miss her. He does not remember life before this dog and is old enough to fully understand that this means that in the coming years he will experience the loss of her. He feels love and he feels fear. He has heard that kids get “the call” at school about their dogs and he does not want that call.

I can tell Eighteen what to do and what not to do, until he leaves for college. But that would be foolish. We are on a trial run for adulthood, so I let him make most of the decisions and step in only when I cannot help myself. I try not to treat him like the child he no longer is, he tries not to act like the obnoxious teenager he no longer is. Most of the time we are successful, sometimes we fail.

Eighteen is no longer simply living in time, but is now truly reflecting upon it. He feels his own childhood slipping away and, while there is much to look forward to, he understands that for the first time there is now much to look back upon as well. Eighteen experiences that sharp pain we feel as adults when we know that a time in our lives that we have loved has passed and that we can never really return to it. As he lets go of his child self and readies to leave, he is fully conscious of the fact that life has painted a bright red line and he is crossing over it.

Eighteen leaves little gashes on my heart, like stinging paper cuts, as time winds down and we no longer have months or years but rather weeks and days. I miss him before he is even gone and I grieve once he has left. Eighteen drifts slowly away the summer after graduation and then one morning I load up the car and he is really gone, and I can do nothing more than help him on his way.

This is Adolescence

This is the final essay in the This Is Adolescence series which began with 11, and covered 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, and  17.  If you are looking forward to adolescence, living it or reflecting upon it, each of these beautifully written essays will make you think.  Conceived by Lindsey Mead and Allison Slater Tate, the entire series will be published in full in Brain, Child’s Special Issue for Parents of T(w)eens, coming in Spring 2015.