Adolescent Absurdities

alexa

Teenagers…gotta love ’em! I mean you really have to love them because there are times when you don’t want to love them. You folks with newborns and babies – yeah, you guys who haven’t slept in months – sorry to break it to you, but the baby phase is easy. Exhausting, but easy.

Let me share some of the absurdities one has to live with when living with teenagers. I’ve taken some dramatic license. Mind you, there was a time I had five teenagers under one roof. I don’t remember much during those years…we all survived though. There’s a definite difference between boys and girls. Boys are quiet, destructive and obsessed with rock music and video games. Girls make up for the quietness of the boys by talking incessantly. Ellie, even last night, was talking in her sleep.

Let’s take last night: Ellie got up early yesterday to go to Dream Machines in Half Moon Bay. When Eloisa, the baby and I returned from church around 7:30 pm, Ellie was home and already unconscious. I understand, it was a long day for her. In order for Ellie to sleep, she must have “Monk” on replay. Since I was babysitting, I thought I could bypass the “Monk” marathon and put on a nice movie. Where was Ellie’s firestick? Now, Ellie is very, uhm, very possessive of her firestick. Rarely can anyone watch TV in the front room without her express permission to use the firestick? But Ellie was unconscious…I couldn’t wake her, I didn’t want to wake her. So I looked around for the coveted firestick…there it was, in her hand as she slept. Yikes! Because her sleep was so deep, the grip was not tight. I slowly and deftly removed the firestick from her slack grip. Whew…. I  got myself a big glass of milk and settled into the couch to watch a show with the baby. I settled Peyton with his bottle, and I gently grabbed the firestick, pressed the button, and whispered, “Alexa….”

“NOOOOOOOO!” came from the unresponsive body. “Give me my firestick!” Rather than wake up Smaug entirely, Peyton and I went into my room and watched that groundbreaking, critic-acclaiming, culture-shaping, lofty film, “The Incredibles” and called it a night.

During adolescence, I fear the processes of logic may either be underdeveloped or suspended until the kids are nearly 20. Another example: because yesterday was so busy, I asked my offspring – female offspring – if they had clean clothes for the next day. I didn’t have time to do the $40 worth of laundry at the laundromat, I didn’t want to, I was tired. I know I’m a bad mom. Anyone who has raised girls know that clothing is a very important priority in their lives. I sympathize, but my priorities are usually bond and have paper pages. I was a weird teenage girl. Anyway, one of the female offspring was devastated that I was not doing the laundry. Mind you, this same child just got dressed to the nines for church. I told her why don’t you wear the same pants you wore to church. You think I had taken the kitchen knife and stabbed her. “No! I already wore them 3 times, they’re dirty.” I explained that there must be over 100,000 articles of clothing in this apartment. She could surely find a pair of pants to wear tomorrow. (I live with four of my daughters, and, for the most part, all of them can wear the same size.)  I added that I will do the laundry tomorrow night. Now here it comes…wait for it:

“You say that all the time, you never do it.”

Huh? I responded more to myself than to her…”I never do the laundry?”

“You never do it when you say you will!”

OK, so I’ve never done the laundry, when do you do it? Who does do the laundry…all of it? The towels? Your laundry, mine, your sisters, etc? Who does it? The conversation abruptly ended.

These kinds of situations are common and leave me scratching my head. Also there are things my kids say that now just render me dumbfounded:

“Where are my jeans with the holes in it?”

There are approximately 20 pairs of these kinds of jeans in my apt. I do not answer.

“Why don’t you ever do anything for me?”

I was giving this kid a ride somewhere. But I do not respond. I am mute.

Why aren’t there any clean dishes?”

Not a peep.

“There is no food in the house.”

Nothing. See previous blog, “At Least There was Milk in the Fridge.”

In my advanced middle age, I am learning to conserve what little energy I have. I don’t respond to these or the many other questions or statements of silliness that I’ve heard uttered from my offspring’s mouths. I chock it up to adolescent absurdity and move on. Life is way too short.

 

 

 

 

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Lyric-ese

languages

I love languages, I have since I was in 6th Grade where I had my first brush with Spanish. Took a little German in college, and over the years have learned salutations in over a dozen languages. The Filipina caregivers are very impressed with my ten words of Tagalog as was my Egyptian coworker when I wrote my name in Arabic.

Unfortunately, my children are monolingual, and I’m not too sure its English they speak. The words are English, the grammar and syntax appear to be English, but, for the life of me, there are times I’m not fully understanding them, or they’re pulling the wool over my eyes. I texted my Author Talk flyer to all the kids, I got a few responses: cool, do I have to go? and finally, it’s gonna be lit! Huh? I know I’ve heard these phrases somewhere before, and then I had an epiphany. During one of our many “drive-bys” by the ocean, I heard their language, it’s their music, the lyrics from the songs they play…over and over and over again. They speak lyric-ese, some kind of new slang.

Since most attempts at conversation with my young people result in “huh?”, this is how I imagine they’d go if they did respond:

”Eva, what  time you gonna be home? And don’t get in a car with a driver whose  been drinking AND don’t take a drink from anyone.”

…Like why you so obsessed with me.  What’s that suppose to mean? I’m your mother.

”Ellie, where are my clothes? Weren’t you gonna put them away?”

To the left, to the left, everything you own in the box to the left. Don’t sass me!

“Eloisa, what do you think you’ll do after you get out of school?”

I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadow, if I fail, if I succeed, at least I’ll live as I believe. That’s, uhm, good. Relax, a little, we’re just talking about 8th grade.

‘’’Beasto, you’re so quiet, what are you thinking about?”

I got money on my mind, and my mind on my money. Good.

Espi, you’re almost done with school. How exciting! How does that make you feel?

Young, dumb, broke high school kid. Okaaay.

”Hey, quiet it down in there.”

Let’s get it started…hah! Let’s get it started in here. (They are bad kids.)

Well, two (or eleven) can play at that game. When I’m done raising these kids, I’m gonna take this job and shove it because I’ll be ready to take a chance again. I’ve looked at life from both sides now from win and lose and still somehow it’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all so if you miss the train I’m on, you will know that I am gone, you will hear the whistle blow a hundred miles.

I may never pass this way again so don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy, lighten up while you still can, don’t even try to understand, just find a place to make your stand, and take it easy. So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu, adieu, to you and you and you (+ 7). I’m glad to go I cannot tell a lie, I flit, I float, I fleetly flee, I fly. And kiss today goodbye.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Ovulated to Say That!

obligated

Years ago, we were at our regular stomping grounds – the McDonald’s drive thru – when, after I gave my order from the dollar menu, the voice from the box enthusiastically said, “Happy Holidays!”. I mumbled under my breath about the dearth of the “Merry Christmas” salutations when one of my kids who shall remain nameless said quite matter-of-factly, “She’s ovulated to say that.” Well….that certainly changed the trajectory of the mood in the car.

Because of my unique position as the mother of many kids, I am often “ovulated” to say things. Take last night, for example, conversation went from contently answering one child’s question to a full scale assault from sibling who declared adamantly, “Oh, we all know she’s your favorite.” Again, the trajectory of the mood in the car changed.

Said child then, in her most jurisprudent manner, cited all my high crimes and misdemeanors against herself as well as my alleged significant favoritism to fellow sibling. Well, after a long day, not feeling like a domestic tete a tete, I nonetheless rose to the challenge. I mustered what evidentiary support I could gather from my 50+ memory that was subsequently low on calories and countered the charges with adequate support to negate her accusations. I’m ovulated to defend myself.

“I have no favorites.”

“Yes, she’s your favorite, remember when you went to Starbucks, and out you come with a strawberries & cream just for her, and for me….NOTHING!”

“Uh, I don’t really remember that.”

“Oh yes, you do, you do that all the time. You don’t do anything for me.”

“Uhm, well, I came all the way down here to pick you up tonight. You know I don’t like to drive at night. I always tell you how talented and pretty you are.”

“Well, you’re obligated to say that, that’s mother duty.”

“You mean, ‘I’m ovulated to say that?'” trying to inject humor into the ride home. Didn’t go over well. Turns out, said litigant was very hungry and retracted her accusations after some divine lumpia and a couple of danimals.

But, we parents, are often called to say things out of “ovulation”. I laugh because that particular obligation is a direct result of successful “ovulation” processes. We are obligated to say many things to our children. And some of those things are a mandated obligation to these souls entrusted to us.

“Mom, are these jeans old man jeans?”

“No, son, they look good on you.”

“Mom, can you see my collar bones?”

“Yes, I can see your bones, they look nice.”

“Mom, how does my makeup look?”

“Looks great.”

“Mom, why does everyone hate me?”

“Honey, they don’t hate you.”

“You like her better than me.”

“No, that’s not true. I love you just the same.”

I’ve had to wrestle emotionally with most of my kids. It is a tough task. Especially during the teenage years. But we are obligated to tough it out with them. As much as they drive me crazy, when at times, I want to give it all up or say things I wouldn’t be able to unsay or totally disconnect from them, by God’s grace, most of the time, I am able respond to their accusations, disappointments and pain with some semblance of objectivity and compassion. Yes, said child is right, it is mother duty, it is parent duty. I’m ovulated to do so, to say so and I want to do so because I love them. I really love them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dar Luz

babyMy last six kids were born in Berkeley and were delivered by my wonderful midwife, Lindy Johnson. It’s her fault I had so many kids because she was so wonderful. Just kidding. She used to drive an old Volvo wagon with the license plate that read “DAR LUZ”. In Spanish, “Dar a Luz” means to give birth, but the words are literally translated “to give to light”.

Childbirth has three stages: labor, delivery and delivery of the placenta. Labor has three phases: early, active labor and transition. Early labor is typically the longest and the least painful. Of the many labors I’ve experienced, during early labor I could still run errands, like go to the bank. I did that with the first one, and I was admonished by the Operations Officer (who was my mom’s friend) to go home, “you’re in labor.” You can still get things done in early labor. Like sign up for emergency Medi-Cal like I did….twice, different babies though.

But as it gets increasingly difficult, you enter the active phase. Now you know you’re in labor. The contractions are strong, but tolerable. No more errand running. Sometimes the water breaks. Time to buckle down cause it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

Then, there’s transition. Lovely transition. Transition takes your cervix from about 7 to 10 cm at which time you can start pushing. Transition is what you see in the movies, the screaming, the noises that are beyond description and the call for the drug cart. Thankfully, transition is the shortest part of labor for most. My poor sister was stuck at 6 for over 12 hours until they realized the baby was stuck, and my niece was born via emergency c-section.

Transition is the worst. This is the phase when you feel like giving up. You don’t think you can stand another contraction, and then before you know it you’re at 10. Time to push and get a look at that baby!

Raising teenagers is a lot like transition. It is intense, and you don’t think you’re gonna make it. That’s how I feel. Then they hit 18 – et voilà – they’re grown up and you’ve delivered them to adulthood. Sometimes they even move out. (Ironically, that is sad, but another blog.)

“Dar a Luz” can be applied here. In the intensity of these tumultuous years, these transitional years for them, I want to quit, but I know I can’t, just like when I was in labor. I have found many opportunities during these times “to give to light”. Often in tense moments, I’d want to go off, lose my temper and unload my anger and frustration. But I restrain myself because I know it will only feed an already out of control situation; so instead, I dig deep down — breathe, focus — and try to find words that will “give to light”. I liken the teenage years to the kids’ emotional birth, and the transition is just as tough emotionally as the transition was physically during childbirth.

I remember being a very difficult teenager. So I try to understand where they’re at and be patient. I breathe deep and focus on the goal of delivering these teens to adulthood. Most importantly, I want them to know that I am always here for them. Most of the time, they don’t talk, but sometimes, God opens a door and I’m amazed at their maturity. I am doing my best “to give to light” during these dark times of adolescence.