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May 20 2014

Clean Your Room–It’s Good For The Jews!

By at 3:46 pm

clean-room

I have three kids. With three very different personalities. My 10-year-old boy is my most “challenging” one.

“Typical middle child,” the self-proclaimed experts crow. No. Sorry. He was like that from the moment he was born. (I will grant that God knew he would one day end up the middle child and so designed accordingly, but, trust me, he came hard-wired that way.) I could tell the difference at the bris. My first son cried because he was in pain. My second one cried because he was angry.

He’s mellowed a bit since that eighth day. But, still, nothing comes easy with this one. Everything has the potential to turn into a philosophical, environmental and theological argument at the drop of a hat. Read the rest of this entry →

May 1 2014

For Now, They’re Teens in California, but Soon They Will Be Israeli Soldiers

By at 10:12 am

Roi-outruns-his-mark-3-15-14

“Hey Ima, you know, the college scouts come to see the U16 games.”

I felt shivers up and down my spine, the same sort of chill that gripped me in early fall while watching my 14 and 15-year-old sons play together in a competitive soccer match in San Rafael, California. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching them play; or at least I used to.

Both boys are passionate about the game, playing at a high level of competitive youth soccer. Every weekend during our stay in the San Francisco Bay area, I watch them play–two, three, or four games. I spend hours and days gazing at their strong, rapidly growing bodies, their lean muscles, tanned skin and their incredible agility as they chase a ball on a soccer field, somewhere in sunny northern California. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 29 2014

Why I Will No Longer Post Photos of My Kids on Facebook

By at 10:56 am

facebook-photos

“Take it down,” my 12-year-old told me emphatically when I entered the TV room where my family gathered to watch an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game last week. Prior to the game, I had taken an adorable picture of him and his 9-year-old sister, linking arms, decked out from head to toe in their favorite team’s attire.

The picture was “likable.” It was fun, happy, and symbolic of our family’s love for my husband’s alma mater and the university that my oldest daughter’s currently attends. It was a must-share. Therefore, I captioned with, “We’re ready! Go BLUE,” and did what so many of us proud, kvelling Jewish mothers do–I posted the photo to Facebook.

“Take it down,” my younger son told me again, as I semi-pretended not to hear him. “But people have already liked it and commented on it,” I responded, realizing I was pleading with him. “Mom, please do not post pictures of me without asking,” he said with annoyance. My youngest daughter chimed in, “Yeah, mom, same goes for me!” Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 28 2014

A Love Letter to My 7-Year-Old Teenager

By at 10:13 am

homework1

Dearest Sugar Bee,

It was your birthday yesterday and I fell in love with you again. We were out in the desert with friends and you were your beautiful, lively self, enjoying your family and friends and soaking in the sunshine. We spent a lot of time holding hands and swinging in a hammock and talking about life. I gave you your “7” charm to wear around your neck this year. It’s the charm that I wore when I was 7 and Grandma wore and Aunt Lenore too. The charm that Grammy brought into our lives. Lucky seven. We are indeed lucky.

Flashback a week and we are fighting about homework. Again. You are giving me that look. Slack jawed, tongue forward, eyes rolled, wobbling your head like a car ornament. And I want to kill you. I feel my chest tighten and I want to shriek that I can’t stand you. That I don’t understand why you treat me the way you do. Why only me? I try to diffuse your frustration and anger which I have gotten pretty good at after this much practice. My encouragement falls on deaf ears. You are too far gone. I excuse myself from homework and give myself a time out in my bedroom and hold my head in my hands until my anger dissipates. When you calm down too you knock on my door and we hug. You give me the picture you drew of us together. I smile and thank you and add it to the pile. We continue to work; you finish your homework and peace is restored to our home. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 27 2013

My Son’s Concussion, My Mommy Fail

By at 2:01 pm

my son's concussion

I didn’t learn about my son’s concussion until a day after it had happened, when I saw the middle school phone number on my caller ID. “Daniel’s here,” Nurse Nancy said. “He apparently hit his head yesterday. He’s not feeling well.”

“My head hurts,” Daniel said in a soft whisper. “And this morning it was blurry when I read for too long.” My “mama bear” instincts went into overdrive even after he followed up with, “but I got some Tylenol and it’s starting to feel better.”

“When did you hit your head?” I asked. “Do you want to come home?” I couldn’t help but pepper him with questions, probably enough to reverse any effect the pain medication had already had. He wanted to stay in school, he said, go back to class and go on with his day. I stared out the front window, watching the leaves fall from the massive elm trees, making their way down to the ground in a dance of rust and oranges twirls. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 30 2013

When Do I Stop Being Naked in Front of My Kids?

By at 2:42 pm

bathrobe

Sarah Tuttle-Singer’s recent post on why she lets her kids see her naked reminded me of a piece I wrote almost two years ago about my family’s nudity policy (or lack thereof).

Unlike Sarah, I didn’t have a poetic, thoughtful, and profound reason for my decision to let my children see me (and their father) naked. My reason was pretty much the same reason I do all things; my belief that what’s easiest for me to do is ultimately best for my kids (a.k.a. I am Occam’s Mother).

But, when I wrote the above post, my oldest son was 12. And now he’s 14. There’s a big difference between 12 and 14–especially when he’s a boy. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 18 2013

Letting Go Before the Nest is Empty

By at 5:01 pm

closed bedroom doorIt’s only 8 at night, and when our 16-year-old son rambles home, we pounce. “Want to grab ice cream?” I invite. “What about a movie?” says my husband. Our son stares at us, impassive.

“I’m going to bed,” he says, and my husband and I exchange glances. We know that “going to bed” is code word for I’m-going-into-my-room-and-shutting-the-door-and-staying-up-for-hours-without-you. I hear the door close and even though my son is right upstairs, I miss him. And I know that he’s going off to college in two years and I’m going to miss him even more. 

I don’t know why I’m so surprised he’s independent. We wanted him to be that way. My parents had raised my sister and me to be dependent on them, to stay close to home, to reveal all our secrets. I, of course, balked and flew out on my own at 17, lived states away, and kept my thoughts locked up like a safe. Even now, my mom still scolds me for being “too independent for my own good” but I always considered that a plus.

Until I had a son. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 4 2013

Why I Won’t Let My Kids Do the Laundry

By at 9:45 am

laundry spin cyclePerhaps the most difficult thing about parenting teens is letting go–ceding control over their lives, or recognizing that you never really had any control–and preparing them to leave you. When my girls were toddlers, their wise grandparents told me this, but until I faced the challenge myself I didn’t understand a word of their sage advice.

My eldest’s recent acceptance to college was not only a source of pride; it also triggered some anxiety in me, which I tried to dispel with humor. I claimed my greatest fear was that she would bring her dirty laundry home for me to wash during her vacations. One friend’s shocked response of, “You don’t make her do her own laundry?!” made me wonder if my stranglehold on the family’s laundry signaled an inability to let go.  Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 19 2013

Dealing with Toddler Tantrums & Teen Tantrums All at Once

By at 3:08 pm

toddler having a tantrum in cribOne of my favorite pictures I ever took of my daughter came during a tantrum.

She wasn’t quite 3. We were in the middle of a family party with our best friends–and their two kids, the de facto cousins. My daughter had just hit her BFF. I scooped her into my arms and carried her upstairs for a time-out. A photographer friend once advised me that photos of crying people were always good to take, aesthetically (you can quibble about the morals). There my daughter stood in her crib in a white satin dress-up princess frock. Her face, framed by tired pigtails, revealed the sadness and regret just beneath the frustrated, overtired impulsivity. Her dark eyes were slick and teary and her rounded cheeks appeared rounder, all pouty. And the camera happened to be around my neck. She was so freaking adorable I had to sneak in one quick shot.  Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 17 2013

My Daughter & Her Boyfriend’s Jeans

By at 2:54 pm

torn jeans with holeI’m standing at the kitchen sink when my eldest walks past me to the table to pack her lunch.

“What’s all over your pants?”

“They’re distressed.”

“Did you rip them?!”

“No, they came like that. It’s a style.” She pauses for effect. “And they’re not my pants. And you said I looked cute in them.”

Now I’m distressed. I look more closely at her pants. They are black jeans, ripped and frayed on both legs. I hadn’t noticed that–looking up from the bottom of the stairs–when I’d complimented her.

“Are you wearing [boyfriend name]‘s pants?!” Read the rest of this entry →

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