Poetry: On Raising Teens

I recall, eons ago, when I was neither adult nor child,
during a phase of life known as adolescence
or numerically, being a teenager.

I also recall later being
a male adult parent to three, at one point—
all three almost simultaneously fitting
the technical teenager definition.

We all age up, but teeny boppers, as was once
a more affectionate term, stay the same.
Someone is always oddly 13, 15, 17, or some
age of that hormonally unbalanced
and the musically misguided post-pubescence.

I recall that back then, I was often bored unless
in the midst of violent volcanic eruptions,
and even then, given time, I found them dreary.
Almost everything of interest
involved getting into trouble, things which
I confess to doing with reckless abandon.

Now I look around and see grandchildren,
mostly in some phase of teenage-ism,
some exhibiting familiar behavior, some not.
I see parents, once teens themselves, distraught
over viewing in their progeny reflections of
their former life, a past they seldom
confess or want to remember.

I have no solutions and few suggestions for
those raising difficult teen personalities, like me,
like them, maybe like my parents in the
years of the Great Depression or
WWI or II. But I smile slightly
and I sympathize greatly.

Two things in life are not for sissies:
raising teenagers and getting old. That,
having done both, I can swear to. But,
in the long run, they are worth it.

May we all live long, prosper,
and remember. “Tomorrow, and
Tomorrow, and So Forth.”

Look both ways as life transitions. Be mindful of the gaps in denial.

Essay: My FWB Neighbors (2 of 4)

Part 2 of 4: Parents and Children

This is the second of my four-part ‘tattletale’ series about our neighbors in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. I had three kids, and my kids have kids. So, I have some street cred opinions about this.

I never met the man who lived in the house to the right of us before he died. A younger couple with several children and a dog eventually moved in. I forget their names.

Their children were girls and the girls always seemed to have friends around, so I never got a good head count. I think someone in the family had enemies as evidenced by regular TP in the trees and spray paint (much more serious with ugly messages) on the house.

I recall seeing the children routinely jumping off the roof of the house onto the trampoline in the back yard. It looked like fun, albeit dangerous. Yet, I recall no 911 or EMS calls – at least not for that address. Except for our house and that one, all other homes on that cul-de-sac had at least one emergency call during the time that we lived there.

I think the youngest of the daughters was regularly under severe attack from zombies or some other mean and vile creatures, and their dog tried to save her. I could tell this by the blood curdling screams (her talent) and the crazy loud insane barking which provided accompaniment. We lived with it – but she and their dog both had very capable lungs. Her sudden screams were startling and a bit funny.

Then one night the kids were about 20 feet from my bedroom window and playing loudly on the trampoline. It was a weekend night, so being up late was no big deal. However, after midnight I got a flashlight and decided to join the party. I did not turn on the flashlight until I was at the fence, thus eliciting more screams. Yes, I scared the crap out of them. And yes, I intended to.

I advised the girls that I appreciated there was fun was to be had, but I wanted to sleep and my bedroom was nearby. I asked if there was an adult nearby. They said there was not. I got lots of “No sir” and “Yes sir” answers to my questions, so the kids were polite and just having fun. But still. My intervention stopped the noise. I don’t know if parents were ever aware of the situation, my complaint, or were even home.

I suppose my wife and I may have been overbearing parents compared to those folks. They had cute and polite kids, but I never saw the children and the parents in the same place at the same time. I seldom saw evidence of adult supervision, period. All of this was more experience than problem, if that makes sense.

It was only a few more months before we moved. Following one of the loud, panicked, world-ending screams, I looked at my wife and said, “I wonder how much I will miss living here.” Shortly after our relocation to a Seattle area 55+ community, I made the comment, “The silence here is deafening and disconcerting.” It was too quiet. For a while, I missed the little boogers.

Look both ways. Children are everywhere. Mind the gaps, too. They hide there.