There is no time machine

In my younger years, I hated dressing up for special occasions. I’m a jeans and t-shirt girl all the way. At the time it never occured to me that the opportunities to dress up would become fewer and fewer as I got older. A mom seldom has time or a reason to get fancy. It makes me wish I had complained a little less, maybe even tried harder to be happy in those gussied up moments of restrictive clothing. My point is, the older I get, the more I realize life is too short to not to find some kind of joy in everything we get to experience.

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There is no substitute for knowledge

I have the misfortune or pleasure, depending on the day, to help lead a group of youth in my area. This week, one of the young women went off about there being no need for a chorister for congregational singing numbers.  She didn’t understand what they were for, besides swinging their arms, and thought that nobody watched them anyway. So, she wanted to get rid of the position altogether.

I would be liar if I didn’t admit moments like these require me to grit my teeth and force a smile. After all, she thinks all old people just don’t “get” her or her generation. We adults in the room have to carefully craft our words to pull her back from every insane thought she wants to pursue.

In this instance, a chorister is an invaluable person who helps keep the accompanists and the congregation in time with one another. I can agree with her that many people don’t understand music or know how to use the chorister correctly, but getting rid of the position altogether would cause unnecessary chaos.

Dear, sweet, youth…

Lack of understanding in an area is not a reason to get rid of something. Even if you think the rules are archaic and past their time, first seek to understand why the rule is there in the first place. It’s the only way to ensure you make wise decisions.

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“Adulting” truth: Money

The many years of “adulting” have taught me many things, one of which is that saving money is hard. Sure, making a consistent effort will make it a little easier. And removing the money to be saved before you start spending a paycheck helps even more, but keeping that saved money, there’s the issue.

I’ve tuck away little amounts of money my entire married life. After twenty years you would think the amount would be substantial, but it’s not. I don’t know what it is about Karma but the minute it hears two nickels rubbing to together in your pocket, something goes wrong. Whether it is a car, a water heater, or broken bone, to fix the issue often requires a dip into that blasted nest egg.

Now the answer here isn’t to give up and not save at all. Imagine the debt I would have acquired for those bumps along the way if I hadn’t saved.  And who knows… Maybe Karma ages with us, going so deaf and blind it finally leaves us alone.

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To pucker or not to pucker…that is the question.

Oh the things I hear teenagers say in my house. I don’t know how it started, but the topic of kissing came up. I heard many arguments for kissing:

It takes practice to get it right…

Kissing is not sex so it’s no big deal…

You might not like a guy after you kiss him so it’s best to try it out early…

If I’m honest, when I was their age, I felt the same about kissing. I can’t count how many times I said, “It’s just a kiss,” to my mom.

As I’ve grown well beyond the hormone-charged years of my teens, my thoughts on the subject have changed. I’ve come to realize that kisses are only as precious as you make them.

I understand to treat kisses like sex, to only do either until you are married, is not a realistic possibility. But you need to understand, the value of your kisses diminish with every one you give away. Just like overprinted money loses value, kisses given to every boy you meet aren’t worth much. You’ll be much happier in the long run if you make your kisses as rare and special as you are.

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In a world full of make-believe, always be real.

In a world where perfection is praised above all else, you might feel a need to act as if everything is wonderful in your life. Maybe you’ve acted this way for so long, you started to believe the persona you’ve put forth. What a sad lie to live. Perfection offers no growth—it’s perfect—it has no need to change.

A person who truly wants to become something special is always honest with themselves. Maybe having the courage to let those faults hang out when others are around is too much to ask, but don’t do such a disservice to yourself. You cannot change what you refuse to recognize. An honest assessment will always be the first step to bettering yourself.

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Trying to squeeze yourself into the wrong advice

My youngest son had to register for junior high this week. The nerves he displayed while touring the school and deciding which classes to take blew my mind. My usual Mr. Bold wasn’t. Oh he raised his eyes every time someone yelled out his name, giving a wave and a “Hey.” But then his gaze dropped right back to the floor. By the time we got back to the car, I couldn’t take it anymore.

“What’s your deal tonight?”

“My teacher told us that junior high will be the toughest years we will experience. And if we didn’t want to have problems with other kids, we should keep our heads down and just trudge forward.”

I laughed. “Oh, sweet love…”

Yes, junior high are some of the worst years for any kid, but I couldn’t see the teacher’s remedy being the right one for my son. Such introverted behavior for someone so extroverted like his mother would only make him unhappy.

“There are other things you can do than just keep your head down. Use that outgoing personality of yours to your advantage. Befriend everyone, and I mean everyone. When you show open kindness, refusing to exclude anyone, you’ll be so well liked nobody will bother you. Not even those that end up hating you because you are so well liked.

Think about all the kids in there that just shouted your name while walking around. You already have a big group of kids that like you, just keep building on that base.”

His eyes lit up. “I like that idea better.”

“Of course you do. The only way to be happy in life is to stay true to yourself.”

It’s something we all need to remember. Though listening to people older and wiser than you is a good idea, advice is never a “one size fits all” answer. Take the time to consider if the advice is a good fit for you.

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The Parent Crystal Ball

I often have a houseful of teenagers in my home on weekends. I don’t mind. It’s a great way for me to observe and eavesdrop on conversations. Hey, it’s for my young adult writing. Don’t make it weird.

Anyway, a couple of weekends ago, I noticed two of my daughter’s friends sitting close together. The long gazes that boy and girl shared bordered on “super cringy” for everyone else.

After everyone left I told my daughter. “Now you know you’re going to have to stay neutral when those two break up. Right?”

At first, she tried to play dumb, like they weren’t going out. I just raised my eyebrows until she finally caved. “Okay, they’re together. But they really like each other. I don’t think they’ll break up.”

My years of high school dating experience said otherwise but it wouldn’t hurt anything at this point if she kept those rose colored glasses on. “You’re welcome to believe that. But if it does go south, stay neutral and stay out of it, or you’re likely to lose not one, but two friends.”

This week she stomped into the house after school. “How did you know those two would break up?”

“Oh, just my crystal ball.” Yes, as a mom, I tend to try funny before allowing any gut wrenching serious to take over. “More importantly, what did you do about it?”

“I did just as you said. I stayed neutral, and boy am I glad! Everybody’s in upheaval over it. Each of them is going to all of their friends trying to get them to take their side.”

“And they will… Just continue to say you have no opinion on the subject, no matter how many friends press you. It’ll all blow over in a couple of weeks.”

“Are you sure?”

I pointed to myself. “Crystal ball, remember?”

Not really. The older I get, the more I realize I’ve watched or lived through every high school scenario. If only I’d had this super power in high school, I could have avoided so many social landmines. At least my daughter can benefit from my past. Well…if she continues to listen to my advice. But I also know that becomes sketchy the older a teenager gets.    

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