Why I Let My Teen Trick or Treat

But Brianne, Wednesday isn’t a blog day according to your schedule. Except, on my favorite and arguably only holiday I don’t complain about celebrating, I have decided to honor it with a lesson in parenting teens. Tomorrow, you’ll get your blog on Question 2. Today, I’ve decided to talk about another hotly debated topic: teenagers who go out trick or treating

I always leave the decision of whether he is “too old to trick or treat” to him. There are a few reasons why I do this and I will defend it forever. The biggest reason why, just shy of his big 16, I let him trick or treat is because there are worse things that he could be doing. He could be vandalizing someone’s house or at a party getting drunk or high. (I’d like to think that he would never do those things, but I’m realistic. I can’t be around him all of the time and you really never know what can happen.) Instead, I know the only thing he is getting high on is sugar. I feel as though that is a much safer option, especially considering he’s an athlete without an ounce of fat on him.

Then, there is the control factor. A major reason why teens lash out is because they feel as though they have no control over anything in their lives. Even though he is a teen, the general rules of child psychology and child development still apply. By giving choices, you are encouraging your child to grow up confident with the ability to make decisions. Even something as small as letting them decide that they want to trick or treat helps encourage healthy mental and emotional development. They feel as though they are in control over areas of their life and you don’t have to worry about everything being a power struggle. It shows them that it’s all a give or take.

Then, there is the point of letting him be a kid. I’m not sure why parents are always in a rush to make their kids grow up. I’m not sure why we put those pressures on them then wonder why kids are always in a hurry to grow up. I have the sobering realization that my child will be going off to college in just 2 years. If he still sticks to his choice of schools, one of them will take him out of state to New Hampshire. I’m not going to already have his bags packed. I’m excited that for at least another year, he’s still my kid. He’s going to grow up fast enough as it is. I’m not going to deny him his childhood while he still has it. I was a mom at 18. I didn’t have that luxury, but I’ll be damned if my kids don’t get that chance.

You may think that last statement means that I have an emotionally immature child that I baby even though he is almost 18. If so, you obviously don’t know him or read this blog closely when I talk about him. My son is the type of kid who goes to the dentist and asks for stickers so that he can bring them home to his little brother, because my youngest loves stickers. He’s the type that is always willing to help his friends or do something to help the world be a better place. He’s excited to help me cook or even prepare supper himself. My child isn’t stunted by my decision to let him still go out on Halloween. I’d like to think that maybe he’s just a little bit better because of it.

Remember these things when you see a teen roll up to your home. Think about how they could be egging your house instead of asking for candy. Think about how they could get alcohol poisoning at a party, or even worse drive home. Think about how quickly our babies become apathetic adults. And smile that for at least 1 day, they can enjoy what’s left of their youth.

Happy Halloween, readers. Be safe and have fun eating your candy tax.

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And One Day It Hits You

I worked a lot the first few years of my first son’s life. Some days I would get to work at 5 a.m. and work pretty much straight through until 9 p.m. Then the next day I would start again. Some days were worse; working until early morning hours only to come in a few hours later to start my next day. I did it because nothing in life is worth anything if you don’t have to work hard for it. I did it because I needed to, and even then I still needed state help. And even then, the help wasn’t enough. Kids cost money and a lot of it. I didn’t want to miss out on my son’s early life or first words or first steps… but I didn’t want him to grow up thinking that everything was handed to people. When you’re a parent, it becomes clear very quickly that every action they see from you they copy. Every little thing you do makes an impression on them. I believe you have to work hard in life at whatever you do.

At some point, I looked around at the situation we were in and realized I’m not someone who likes to settle for anything. I looked at my son and realized that I didn’t want him growing up in that place and thinking it was acceptable to settle. Then, with the help of my now husband, I realized I needed something more than the job I had. He took my belief system of not settling and told me to go to school. He was right. Plus, I needed to show my son that college was important. I needed to show him if I went to school and succeeded at parenting him, that he should be able to handle it. I did it, and I worked my butt off in school to graduate if for no other reason than to prove that I could. His pride in me was worth it all. Even more, I taught him a lesson. Just because you think you need to settle in life, doesn’t mean you should. There’s always something better you can aim for and do if you set your mind to it. There’s nothing in this world he can’t do if he wants it enough.

I hope he learns these important lessons. It’s easy to settle for how you think your situation makes you. Nothing that comes easy is worth it though. I had many moments where I cried and didn’t want to go back to school because I didn’t think I could be successful and maybe I should go back to a job that I excelled at whether or not I even liked it. Then I think, as much as I think we as parents teach our children a lesson, I think our children teach us and motivate us the most. You watch them struggle with their reading and they don’t give up, and you think “if he doesn’t quit, why do I think I can get away with it.” It’s important that as a parent, any parent, that you make sure to step up. Your children need you do show them just because you’re young/single/unemployed/poor that you can do things and you can overcome anything in your way. If you show them it’s easier to give up and settle, you’re doing both of you a great disservice. I think this is especially true when you’re a teenager, because like I felt like when I was 19, I was too young to give up now. Remember that your influence as a parent is the biggest influence to your kids. It’s what they start of learning from, and it can impact the rest of their life.

And I Thought A Turkey Was What Everyone Wanted for Thanksgiving

It’s Friday again, and this week I decided to skip ahead and embarrass myself with the story of how the 18-year-old me told my family they were going to have another grandchild.

I had every intention of inviting my mother out to eat at the hotel I worked at to tell her. At first, I just got too busy taking every shift my bosses would let me take in every part of the hotel to make money that I knew I’d need for my bundle of joy. Then it was getting too late and I figured by avoiding it this long, I would’ve made the situation worse for us. Not only would I have shamed them from getting in that position to begin with, I hid it from them for so long. I knew I had to do it, but we were all young and stupid once.

Originally my first son’s due date was on Christmas Day. Soon they realized he was a month older than they thought and gave him the due date of November 29th, the day after Thanksgiving that year. In my gut, and I told everyone, that my son was destined to be born on a holiday. I knew he’d be that “look at me I’m here” personality. (I’d like to say, 10 years later he still is that personality.) I didn’t think women had instincts that were right about that, so I agreed to Thanksgiving dinner with my family and since my huge stomach couldn’t be hid at that point, I realized I could just say “don’t hate me, it’s Thanksgiving” and be done with it. Of course, that’s never how things work out.

At 4am Thanksgiving morning, contractions came 5 minutes apart for 2 hrs. After being examined I wasn’t ready and I just walked around, running up and down stairs before realizing I had to make the call. Shortly after something I won’t mention happened, but a sign you’re about to pop a kid out, I called my parents and while the conversation does sound like something out of a sitcom, I assure you it’s 100% true. Everyone still laughs at me for it, but I’m me.

“Mom, I’m pregnant, I won’t make it to dinner.”

“Well we knew this would happen, just come by and we’ll talk about it.”

“No, mom…. I can’t, I need to go to the hospital. He’s coming.” I informed her where and went off to face the culmination of these last 40 weeks happen.

It wasn’t the blow out I expected. I realized I was stupid in not just saying something sooner, and my mother held my hand when my first-born son came into the world. Aside from my brother considering killing my son’s father, nothing eventful happened. 1  hour after the phone call, there was a new child in the world unaware of anything that happened before that point in time. Thankfully, we all realized that nothing before that really mattered. Everyone was happy, and while my family still never let’s me forget my stupidity, I think they let it slide now that my son is running around amusing them. Plus, I did tell them pretty much as soon as I found out I was expecting again. Maybe that gave me brownie points.

I don’t regret it. He made me learn a lot even before he could speak. I learned that I wasn’t the settling sort, and did everything I could to make him proud. I didn’t want him growing up in a studio apartment eating rice and whatever food I could get from the state. I wanted him to be proud. Next week, my epiphany and how my life changed from there.

If I Close My Eyes, It Didn’t Exist

It seems appropriate for my first week of “whatever snazzy title fits a teen mom Friday”, that I start from the beginning. It’s always harder to understand the ending if you never learned the start, and I don’t think that the way this story starts is much different from the way any of these sorts of stories start. I’m sure the closure of that “my story isn’t unique” is something that would relieve both the reader trying to understand or currently in those shoes and myself as the writer of the story.

High school isn’t a fun place to be. We’d like to tell ourselves how fantastic it was to tell our children the lies of glory days that never really existed. Even the most perfect of the popular ones had a hard time, and I’m pretty sure they’d be lying if they denied it. Whether you put pressures on yourself or let people around you influence you, sometimes even the strongest seems to cower under the pressure. Even the most chaste of your classmates were giving in, and if you even made it to Senior year without giving in, it was a miracle. In looking back, this reinforces a belief that people are fools to think abstinence is the way to teach teenagers about sex, because the more informed they are the better off they are going to be. Teaching abstinence isn’t going to prevent teenagers having sex anymore than anti-drug “Just Say No” programs or anti-bullying programs prevent drug use and bullying. I think as adults, people forget these truths.

The worst part happens when you find yourself in a bathroom with a pee-stick in your hand and realizing that in 5 minutes, your life had completely changed. It’s not enough to walk the school halls with your secret nestled away in your brain while trying to forget it happened. It was a mistake, the test was wrong. I’d never had regular periods, that was what was affecting the test. 5 months wasn’t too excessive to be without, it will go away if I don’t think about it. It doesn’t go away though; eventually you need a plan.

My plan was simple, to just run away from the fact. I saved up my extra money from work, and worked more hours than I probably should as a high schooler. My graduation money had finally brought me to the amount I needed, and shortly after I had moved out. My parents couldn’t kick me out if I was already out when they found out, right? All the TV shows of that time with that situation had the parents kicking their stupid slut of a daughter out, while I didn’t really know anyone else in my shoes. If I had known then what I know now, things would’ve ended up completely different I imagine. It turns out, I didn’t give my parents enough credit and even today have a close bond with their little surprise child. I’m lucky though, not everyone is that lucky.

In this first part of the story, I hope people understand that sometimes things need to be talked about to your kids. I also hope teenagers realize that instead of running, they should try to talk it out with their parents. You never know how it’s going to turn out, and parents are never short of their surprises. Parents love their kids, good parents love them no matter what.

Differences

For a couple of years now, there have been “eggings” on my husband’s car. The occurred when no one was around to pay attention and the next morning we get an eggy surprise, which by that point was an incredible hassle to clean up. My husband gets angry for a few moments, and then realizes there’s nothing he can do but suck it up and clean up the mess. He doesn’t hold that anger, and repeats the process over again the next time.

This all changed the other night, and with that changed I learned a valuable lesson. I go inside to clean, while he wanted to clean up his car outside in the dark. Next thing I know, he comes charging into the house with a gleeful “I got those bastards”. Then he calls the police and stands by the window waiting, cheerful he did in fact, get those bastards. He begins to tell me what happened.

“I was cleaning out the car, and I see these 4 kids at the end of the driveway with their cell phones out taking pictures and laughing. Then I stood up and they saw me and rode off on their bikes. I walk over to your brother’s car, and saw the paint on there. So I ran in and called the cops.”

The police did come, and they did catch the teens. By catch I mean they saw the kids, and they didn’t confess anything and assured us they scared the kids so they won’t be back. I laughed, knowing the kids will be back, but I didn’t want to ruin my husband’s moment of glory. In reality, I knew the police couldn’t do anything to these kids, just make them clean it off and put the fear of God in them. I also know, teen boys are stubborn and defiant so it was pointless.

It did make me remember the biggest difference between us though. I wouldn’t have come in and called the police. I would sit for a moment and plot a way to get even with them. I would sit by a window watching anxiously for them to return to the scene of the crime to get their revenge on my husband’s “ratting them out”, so I could scare them. In my more youthful and stupid years, I would probably have grabbed the closest object to me, and chase after them. Then find their house and take it from there.

The point is, he’s a good guy. He’s generally on the right of the moral track. Me, I like to toe the line and end up where ever I end up. Which generally takes me on a line very dimly lit or across to the other side, depending on what I filter in my mind. We work though, because he stays on one side, and I like to pretend I’m a better person than I am. I think that he makes me better though. But I cannot lie and say I’m not considering a bb gun to go sniper on them when they show up again.