Cheeseburger On The Lam (aka Dear Teenagers)

Dear Teenagers,

Today was such a stressful day from 6:30 am until 6pm that Dad and I wrote a note to you while you were still gone this afternoon and snuck out for a burger. Together. On our own.  An unexpected date night which we haven’t done for months. Nothing fancy either and with a 20% coupon in hand the stresses of our day seemed to melt like the cheese in the barely warm potato-leek soup that we shared.

We were all in foul moods: it’s that time,  you know that school is ALMOST over but there’s still a lot of stress, tests and finals etc. to get through first. We really do understand, truly, but both of you have been amping up your obnoxious quotient with your pre-camp attitudes and it’s being to wear really, really thin. Mostly, because it’s constant and in stereo, both of you, on, all the time. Supporting one another is great but we really are not the enemy.  We KNOW you can’t wait to get out of here to go to camp…..ever wonder what we think or how we feel or how that MAKES us feel?

Couple that with Dad and I being alone during the day 24/7 because of unemployment and you can hear the rumblings of claustrophobia, desperation, depression and anxiety. Not fun. With the economy the way it is, Dad has been home trying to find a job now for more than 8 months. Kids, we want you to have a good life, a happy life and you are both in High School, one a Junior, the other a Sophomore. College is hurtling itself towards us like a tsunami. We have given you both the parameters of what we can afford to pay, the rest is up to you. I wish we could do more but we can’t, that’s called reality. Times are hard, times have changed, times are actually really bad. We’re doing the very best we can.

I don’t know if you realize that you both are pushing the limits, testing boundaries and talking with utter disrespect (and yes, I do mean all the unnecessary curse words) that you both use with wild abandonment. Enough already.  We are “parents “and we are tired, really tired and we try to hide the stress from you as much as humanly possible but let’s face it at 16 and almost 18 you know that stress exists. Please try to deal with it the best way you know how.  Apparently, “parents”  are not allowed to experience stress or be tense and upset, this disturbs the teenage sensibility of “all me, all the time.” We’re sorry. Life does not work that way.

Call us lousy parents but we just needed, desperately needed a burger break. It lasted less than an hour and we didn’t even finish the crisp, salty, thin french fries between us. We did call you and ask if you wanted us to pick up ice cream for you from your favorite ice-cream store. We got one order for a cake batter milk shake for you, son, nothing for our daughter. Just being in the ice cream store and looking at new flavors and new chocolate with a twenty dollar bill made us happy. Don’t tell me food doesn’t help sometimes. Dad got coffee ice cream and I, the child-like one in the family also got cake batter ice cream with vanilla cake and chocolate Kit Kat candy added. How can you not be happy for us? An evening of American Idol and  possibly Glee, good times…

Soon you both will be away at camp for the entire summer and there is no doubt in mind that you will be considerably missed. Not a day will go by without me thinking of you and missing you. The great paradox of life, it will be too quiet when you are gone, but at least after the summer, we will be so bored with the silence and the silent hush that we will leap with great JOY and excitement for when you get back. We love you both very, very much. Don’t forget to write (yeah, right) and we can’t wait to see you on Visiting Day. Have a great time!!  Much love, Mom and Dad xoxo

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The Whiffleball Champ

Kids grow up so quickly these days, one minute you are holding their hand at the bus stop for the first day of kindergarten and the next, it seems, you are handing over the keys to your car.  They are connected to you, and they will always need you but it changes as they get older. It’s a transition, for everyone. I never thought that it was possible but you do get used to your children/young adults separating from you. You have no choice; it happens quite naturally; although, believe me, I still sing “Sunrise, Sunset” at every opportunity.

The quick-dash of our 17-year-old son flying out the door so he can play whiffleball with his best friends, a game they have played for many years.  They built and designed the playing field with lighting that could attract a Madison Square Garden concert, with bases that the Yankees would be proud to play in. The initiative to do it on their own, drive to Home Depot a number of times, to thoughtfully design and build it; that made it special; that made it their own and they will always have that, in later years, they will have their memories.

They talk these days are about colleges, SAT’s and AP tests and how school is “technically over” with the exception of finals. The summer brings a much-needed refuge from exams and adult decisions and the dreaded common essay. These group of friends will be entering their Senior year of High School in the fall and things will proceed full speed ahead from then on, and yes, it will be different. The posse will be going in all different directions for college but I have no doubt that they will always be friends.

Topics around our house include talk of the Volunteer Ambulance Corporation and how our son felt the rush of adrenaline when he was able to do compressions on a sick adult man.  The fact that his EMT complimented him on his technique was, to him, the highest compliment ever and he was ecstatic. “If I ever had any doubts about Medical School, I don’t now, wow, what an adrenaline rush!!!.”

That young, empathic,  compassionate boy that he was is now grown and channeling his inner gifts to want to help others. He has his goals set on being an ER doctor or a surgeon; I tell him he has plenty of time to decide.   He may not be the best athlete on the whiffleball team, he may even be one of the worst players, I don’t really know but it doesn’t matter to me.

He calls, after his game, to ask if I want anything from the ice cream store. He walks in, fifteen minutes later,  dusty and tired and grinning, bearing a scoop of vanilla cake batter ice cream for me, his mom, with rainbow sprinkles.  In my eyes, he is, one true champion.