Teenage Relationships

As a Young Adult writer I spend a lot of time observing the ins and outs of teenage relationships. Yes, that means I’m a stalker—in a non-threatening way of course—but still a stalker. Don’t feel bad, I even listen in on my own my adolescent kids, gleaning ideas for my novels.

I’ve noticed a reoccurring theme in the world of teenage dating—those relationships don’t last very long. Like my daughters says, ‘they’re holding hands when the first bell rings but end up hating each other by the time school’s out.’ You might be wondering how is that possible. How can someone you found so attractive one moment, suddenly be the vilest thing you ever met? When you’re young, you think it’s so complicated, but it really isn’t. Love and hate are two sides of the same coin. Love makes hate possible. And right about now maybe you’re thinking I’ve completely lost my mind, but stay with me. If you had no feelings at all about the person you were loathing, then what they said or did would have very little effect on you. That’s often why the angst of teenage love and hate don’t generally last very long. The emotions between them aren’t often much deeper than the initial sparks of interest. And this is not me making light of those turbulent years you’re going through. Connections take time to deepen and develop, so basically the longer you are together, the harder, and often uglier, the breakup will be if it happens. My advice is not to avoid those relationships all together, but take it slow. Nowhere does it say you have to kiss every toad you meet to find your prince.

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My youngest son and his ridiculous abs

Yes, I have another wrestling story. I’m sorry these are back to back but this one is so funny I have to share.

While at our team’s latest tournament, about five high school girls wandered in and sat near me. They knew nothing about wrestling but the school day was over so I they were passing time and chatting like all groups of girls tend to do. I wasn’t paying them much attention since my son was on the mat wrestling. He went all three rounds with the kid, but ended up losing in the final moments. It was such a good match, I still gave him a loud cheer.

After speaking with the coaches, he runs up into the stands to see me. And I’m holding the sweatshirt he left with me so he could wrestle. He is absolutely beaming about what he accomplished and is talking a mile a minute while he pulls the straps of his singlet off his shoulders and exposes his chest. The young girls near me who had been quite talkative themselves the entire time went noticeably quiet. I glanced over and all their eyes were wide and staring at my son’s defined chest. He had just gone almost six minutes of strenuous wrestling so his muscles were popping even more than normal, and the kid has the pleasure of having very little body fat. But the best part, he was completely oblivious to their ogling.

I start laughing. I didn’t want to embarrass them nor my son, but I couldn’t help it.

“What?” he says.

“Nothing. Put your shirt on.”

“Oh, okay.” He yanks it on in one swift motion and leaves me to go join the team–still oblivious.

Those girls didn’t stay for much longer, and I felt bad. But I didn’t know to fix the awkward elephant in the room. I guess I could have told them my son was a freshman and girls still weren’t on his radar yet, but I think that would have made it worse.

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No good deed goes unpunished

This week I found myself at another wrestling tournament. ‘Tis the season!

I stood behind the table help waiting for my daughter to wrestle. During the match before my daughter’s, the referee had to stop the match several times to fix the clock. A young boy was running the computer so I look over his shoulder to see what was going on and I realized he hadn’t been given any training on how to run the system properly. When my kids were smaller, I was a USA certified para, which means I was trained on how to run the trackwrestling system really well. I lean over and show the young man a more effective way to stop and start the clock without using the mouse. It’s just the down arrow button, but being able to keep your finger on it the entire time ensures that the time will always stop and start with the whistle of the ref. Trust me, in pressure cooker matches, the clock means almost as much as the points.

As he is finishing out the match, I realize he also is not properly recording the events that are taking place, he is just marking out many points were scored. This could become a huge problem if a coach starts to complain about a call, but I waited until the match finished to show him how to do this and why it was important. The girl that was supposed to wrestle my daughter hadn’t showed up yet, so I knelt beside him and broke down the process more thoroughly so he would be more self assured on what to do.

The referee came over and barked at me, telling me to stop being a distraction while he is trying to run the mat. I look at the ref like he had lost his mind.

“You don’t have a match going on right now, and I’m just helping this kid better understand what he needs to do. You just stopped the previous match several times because of table problems. Don’t you want it to run smoother?”

The man bristle like a fool, because he was still waiting for the other wrestler to show up for the next match to start. “I still don’t want to see you here during the match.”

I smiled and shook my head. “I wasn’t planning on it. That’s my daughter wrestling, I’m here to watch her. I just don’t like to see people floundering when a little bit of instruction can fix the problem.”

He grumbled back to the center of the mat rather than thank me. And true to my word, I stepped away from the table once the other girl showed up and surprise, surprise my daughter’s match wasn’t put on hold a bunch of times. But even then, as I helped my daughter gather her things, that grumpy ref couldn’t say thank you.

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Thanksgiving through the eyes of a foreigner

I know I’ve mentioned this before but having a foreign exchange student is something every family would benefit from. Even if you do just a short stay rather than an entire school year.

This Thanksgiving our latest foreign exchange student’s downright giddiness to experience this new holiday helped me treat the day as something far more special that I often do. I mean, let’s face it, the day comes around every year, so it’s easy for it to be commonplace in our thoughts. But, the change in focus really elevated the holiday for us all. And listening to her say and show such gratitude for the family gathering and the food helped all of us speak more openly about the things we are grateful for. I always say get outside the comfort zone box we all live in as often as possible. It’s how we find fresh perspectives on life and grow into a better people.

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Your Type: Things I wish I would have known when I was fifteen.

I spent time with young adults over the weekend so I find my thoughts still swirling around dating. You’re gonna have to bear with me.

Before I married my husband, I always dated the same type of guy: outgoing, with flashy outward talents like singing or acting, and he had to be a great dancer. These were the things I enjoyed, so I figured this was the only type of guy who would make me happy.

Yet the man I married is none of those things. It’s no small miracle that I ever gave him a chance—he wasn’t the type of guy I thought I wanted. Once I did, I discovered his quiet company complimented my talkative personality. He treated everyone, including me, with a kind of respect I’d never seen before. I had to have him.

Over the weekend I watched the young adults, as I always do. One particular boy stood out to me. Quiet and hulking, this boy didn’t have flashy good looks. He did however open doors and stand aside to let every girl in our group go first. The few times I heard him speak, he showed he wasn’t a mindless lump. The young women in our group didn’t give him much attention, but I was impressed.

I hope you will be wise when dating. Don’t start out with such a narrow view, like I did. What does it hurt to give someone who you think isn’t your type a chance? You might just find, like I did, the unexpected perfect match.

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The Karma of counting

My daughter and I have had this ongoing argument over how she approaches playing the piano. She refuses to count the measures as she’s learning, so she often plays incorrect rhythms until her teacher has to correct her. Believe me if I try to correct her it gets beyond ugly, so I just suffer through the week until her teacher gets a hold of her. Sometimes the rhythm is so off it’s like starting over from scratch. She could save herself so much pain if she would just COUNT!

Well, this last week Karma decided to give me the most excellent of gifts. My daughter was asked to teach a boy from a different team a particular ballroom dance. They needed him to fill in because of an injury on her team. After the first day, she came home so frustrated. “This kid is going to take forever to get this dance. If he would just count it would be so much easier.”

A better mom probably wouldn’t have pointed out that she shared the same problem when it came to piano, but I’m not a better mom. And all I had to say was, “Count, you say,” and raise my eyebrows.

She knew exactly what I was talking about and threw up her hands. “It’s not the same thing…”

I snorted. Yes, snorted. The girl was being ridiculous. “Yes, it is…and I couldn’t be happier. Now you understand how much your stubbornness must frustrate your piano teacher.”

Did she learn her lesson? Has she changed her ways? No. Teenagers excel at many things, and digging in their heels is probably their strongest trait.

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Bowling pains

Bowling was the first date I ever went on with my husband over twenty years ago. I soundly beat him that day and did every time we bowled together for years. Sadly for me, over time that dynamic changed. I haven’t won a game of bowling in so long part of me wants to pull my hair out. This last weekend was no different, but oh I was sooo close. I even spared up the tenth frame giving me an opportunity for one more throw. A strike would have been glorious. It would have sealed my victory, but no. I screwed up and that last ball ended up in the gutter. When I realized he only beat me by two points part of me really thought about throwing a fit, but with all our kids there I didn’t want to be the example of a poor-sport. You’d think that after more than a decade I could beat him again at least once. My husband it’s even really competitive about it, and I think that’s what makes me the craziest. He doesn’t even care! And maybe that’s my problem. I get so worked up inside with each passing frame my technique falls parts but he just sits there smiling. All I know–it’s a darn good thing I really like him.

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Fathers: a necessary ingredient

I recently heard a young woman say men are only needed for one thing, but the rest of it would be better if women did it themselves. If you haven’t guessed yet, she was talking about having and raising children. After more than twenty years of marriage, I tried to offer her a little insight into how wrong that idea was. First of all, kids are hard to raise. And just because you are their mother doesn’t mean they’ll go any easier on you. I’m grateful that I never had to face down a tantrum alone, or more likely these days a teenage mood swing. My husband isn’t just hanging out in the background either, for some of our kids he’s the point man. Let’s face it, not all personalities mesh so well, but in those moments my kids have two of us to contend with. And my husband and I are very different when it comes to approach but our goals are the same, so I have no problem stepping back and letting him do the talking.

It saddens me that fathers are being minimalized in this day and age. I see the important role they play every day. You need and want your children to have a father in their life. I don’t care how strong of a woman you think you are, a good father brings unique qualities into a home that aren’t easily replicated by other means.

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Upcoming new story from me…

I spend so much time fixing others people’s writing I seldom have any time left to write for myself. Part of me really likes seeing the work of others polished to it’s finest so I don’t hate the direction my writing life has taken, but recently a necessity arose that required me to crack out a short story. It was awesome to create something from my own imagination. I worried that I might not be able to in such a short amount of time, but it was like turning on a faucet. Once I cracked it open, the trickle of words turned into a steady flow. I’m grateful to not have completely lost that side of my writing abilities. I really like having many talents and learning new things everyday. The problem is having enough time in the day to keep them all as sharp as I would like. My latest offering will be part of the Mystic Publishers Inc. 2021 Christmas Anthology coming out October 15th.

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Boys should not be your focus

Like most young ladies, my daughter struggles to believe any young man will ever like her enough to want to be in a relationship with her. She doesn’t think she’s pretty enough, skinny enough, smart enough, athletic enough–pick a category–it’s all the same to her. I hate her constant negativity on the subject and I’m always pointing out the great qualities she has, but it falls on deaf ears.

Incredibly, she thinks being grumpy with everyone around her is somehow the best way to deal with her insecurities. Ugh, it’s frustrating and stupid, if you ask me. So I’m going to tell you what I’ve told her a thousand times. Maybe it’ll reach someone out there in internet land. And because I’m not your mother, you’ll listen and put it into action.

Stop worrying about whether or not a boy will ever like you. That should be the least of your concerns. Instead, focus on changing yourself into someone you can honestly look in the mirror and like. No, this isn’t about being conceited. In fact, it’s the opposite. If there is something you don’t like about yourself, make a plan to fix it. Then, for heaven’s sake, actually put the plan in motion. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your best self be. Stop looking to external praise as a barometer for your efforts. Nobody matters but you. You are the one who has to live with yourself for the rest of your life.

Now, don’t confuse this advice with some stupid notion that I don’t want my daughter to ever have a man or get married. I love being married, it’s added so many amazing dimensions to my life. But there are only two kinds of marriages–really good ones and really crappy ones. Trust me, it’s the good ones you’re looking for. And those good guys don’t want a fixer upper anymore than a good woman wants a fixer upper. That’s why I keep saying start with yourself. Once you have done all you can to make yourself awesome, the dating pool of awesome guys will naturally expand.

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