Today, I have the honor of addressing the 2019 Graduating Economics Class from the University of Rochester. It was a mere 36 years since I was sitting in their exact seats as a class of ’83 graduate, and I have given some reflection on the things I know today that I wish I knew the day I received my newly minted degree from the University of Rochester.
This was similar to the exercise that led me to create a list I gave to my four college-bound children that resulted in the 100 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before College. I share this new list with the hope that perhaps one idea will resonate with just one graduate and it will give her or him some perspective as they begin their next phase of life’s adventure.
University of Rochester Rush Rhees library
Wishing all graduates from every school the very best as they navigate their future.
100 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me After College And Before I Entered The Real World
1. The most valuable asset you will ever have in your career is your reputation. It is also the most fragile.
2. Treat your first and every job like you are certain it is your ultimate career. First, it might be, and second, this is the only way to truly find out.
3. Petty internal politics may seem to work great in the short term. They won’t get you where you want to go in the long term.
4. A career is not a zero sum game. This is such a simple statement to make, but one of the hardest concepts to believe and live by.
5. Find a mentor. If you are fortunate to earn one, this person will challenge you beyond what you believe you are capable of achieving. They will instill within you a confidence that comes from knowing someone you respect believes in you.
This is a person you can expose your vulnerability to and receive honest (sometimes painful) constructive advice. This person will not only make a difference in your career, but will have true impact on the person you will become and the legacy you will leave.
6. A mentor doesn’t have to be the person who is most like you or who you like the most. It should be the person you can learn the most from. Sometimes this person is difficult, challenging and not fun. That’s ok because your goal is to learn and grow, not to hang out.
7. There has to be something in it for the mentor or why would anyone choose this role? A mentor will only be inspired to take on this role if they see a special spark inside you. You can’t pick your mentor. You can identify the candidates and work towards the goal, but they are the ones who get to pick.
8. Not surprisingly everyone wants a mentor and sadly very few people want a mentee. Why should a mentor want you if you are not the kind of person who chooses to give back by finding a worthy mentee?
9. You are never too junior to have a mentee. All you have to do is care about those who know less than you, but have the potential to make the world better. You may not believe it but you already have valuable experience to share. The amazing thing about life is the more people you mentor, the more you learn and the more rewarding your own life becomes. Don’t worry about having enough time. It will work out.
10. If you surround yourself with smart people, you will be challenged, uncomfortable, and grow as a person.
11. If you surround yourself with average people, you will stay very comfortably average.
12. If you surround yourself with less intelligent people, the company will fail or you will get fired.
13. It is ok to make lots of mistakes. They are usually minor and it happens every day. That is good and how you learn.
14. If you make the same mistakes over and over again, that is not good.
15. There are only a handful of giant decisions that one needs to make during their entire career. Recognize when you are at one of these big inflection points and truly reflect on the situation and assess all of the relevant facts.
Take your time to make decisions and speak with everyone you respect. It is critical to get these giant decisions right. If you are successful in getting the big decisions right, people will marvel at your long-term trajectory. If you do not succeed here, you alter an otherwise positive path and it may be very hard, if not impossible to fully recover your optimal arc.
16. Choose an employer where there is a lot of flow. Flow means smart people, many potential experiences, lots of transactions, constant buzz, too much work and not enough people to get the job done. The more you are in the middle of what may seem like an “unorganized and constant mess” of “too many things to do,” the greater the opportunity you have to gain valuable experience. The best way to learn is by doing.
17. If nobody at your new job cares about you or your future, it won’t be impossible, but it’s going to be a lot tougher to succeed. Try to surround yourself at work with at least some people who truly care about you as a human being.
18. Don’t ever go into a field or a job because others think it’s great. You have to think it’s great.
19. Independent thought is a very valuable and scarce commodity. It feels much more comfortable to go along with Groupthink and not rocking the boat. Groupthink provides a false sense of security and is seldom rewarded and often wrong. That said, don’t be a contrarian just for the sake of being a contrarian because sometimes when things appear obvious, they are. Use your brain.
20. You are not smart enough to “just wing it.” Maybe it got you this far, but you need to truly do the work if you truly want to contribute and make a difference in the real world. In case you are not aware, you are now entering the real world.
21. It’s called work for a reason. Sometimes you will be miserable. It’s ok to sometimes be miserable if you are learning, growing and striving towards something you believe in.
22. It’s very easy to say, “I am are miserable,” “the people I work with don’t get it,” or “everything about the company/industry is stupid, wrong, or broken.” Talk is cheap and complaining is easy. Try to fix what is wrong because that is how you add value. Otherwise, you are also just part of the problem.
23. Never go into your boss’s office and tell her/him what is “broken, wrong, or stupid.” Always go into your boss’s office with a plan to improve whatever is “broken, wrong or stupid.” You’re probably better off not referring to things to your boss as “broken, wrong or stupid,” but sometimes it will be impossible to help yourself. At least try to tone it down if possible.
24. If you are the kind of person who always points fingers at others, you may be the problem, and don’t be surprised that when you are out of the room, everyone else’s fingers are pointing towards you.
25. Work can and should be fun. Unless you become a brain surgeon, your job probably isn’t brain surgery or life and death. Have perspective. It’s not just ok, but it is beneficial to your career to let your personality shine and show your individuality, sense of humor, and personality. That said, unless you become a professional comedian for a living, don’t overdo it.
26. Work is not a fraternity or sorority party. If you step out of bounds publicly at work or on a business trip, it can be a career-changer. Don’t get drunk at the office holiday party. Everyone knows and talks about it and you will be labeled.
27. Work is serious. There are clients, investors, regulators, co-workers, laws etc… If you aren’t serious about your career, goof around badly outside of the office, post inappropriately on social media, or do anything that will show a lack of self-respect, you should have no doubt why your career trajectory is limited at best.
28. If you consider gender, color, race, religion, or sexual orientation to be a determining factor in anything in life, you will and should be fired.
29. If you don’t understand appropriate behavior at this point in your life, no company will be interested in taking the time to explain it to you. There are no longer three strikes. One and done. As it should be. Consider this the only warning you will ever receive.
30. You can’t ask enough questions when you want to learn. Don’t ask the same ones over and over again, and be sensitive enough to know when its’s appropriate to be inquisitive and when it’s not.
31. If you can master empathy, the art of putting yourself in other people’s shoes, you are going to have an extraordinary career.
32. If you think the world revolves around you, there will be a day of rude awakening. The institution was there before you arrived and the world will keep revolving after you are gone. Nobody is irreplaceable. Never forget this.
33. Most companies thrive by increasing revenues and reducing costs. If you can be part of helping a company grow or be more efficient, you deserve a seat at the table. If you do neither, you may want to re-evaluate exactly what you are doing. This doesn’t mean research, strategic planning, culture building, etc…isn’t super valuable. They all are. When you think about it, usually these areas are just longer term paths of increasing revenues or reducing costs, so recognize it as such.
34. It’s easy to just quit your job and feel justified. It’s a lot tougher but much more rewarding to step up and do everything in your power to improve things.
35. If you wake up in a few years and see multiple jobs on your resume, it is usually a sign that you are doing something wrong and future employers will question your judgement, loyalty and competence. You may think you can talk your way out of this, but smart interviewers from good companies will easily discover the truth. You can probably fool some mediocre interviewers from marginal companies, but eventually you will just add this new job to your prematurely long resume.
36. Sometimes you do need to quit. But only after you have done everything in your power to make things better and right. You owe this to yourself and your employer. However, if you ever see real ethics issues or fundamental core problems that are ignored by those in charge, quit immediately. Bad reputations are contagious.
37. Find something you are truly passionate about and believe in. When you do, you never once look at the clock.
38. Start with balance in your life right away. As a junior person this may seem impossible, but it isn’t. Yes, your time will be greatly skewed towards proving yourself when you begin your career, but setting aside some time to exercise, eat well, and spend time with your family and friends will provide you with at least a little balance. You do nobody any good when you burn yourself out, are constantly sick, are always bitter or lose perspective on life.
39. The single most important career decision you will ever make is to pick the right spouse/partner. If you pick the right one, you will have someone to celebrate every success, support you through every inevitable setback, and give you honest feedback along the way. If you pick the wrong partner, your life will be much harder, more lonely, overly complicated, and far less meaningful. I highly recommend, if at all possible, to get it right the first time. If you feel doubt and apprehension about the relationship, listen to yourself.
40. Celebrate your promotions. They are a big deal and a reward for a job well done.
41. Never work day-to-day with the goal being to achieve a promotion. If you come to work with the right attitude, strive to be incredibly competent, put the needs of the whole ahead of your personal agenda, always behave ethically, and do your best to make a difference, you will get promoted. This is not a coincidence. Promotion is the result of exhibiting your best behavior and actions every day and never occurs because it is you top priority.
42. Don’t freak out if someone else gets promoted and you don’t. Celebrate with them and do an honest assessment of why this happened. It might not have been the right time for you. There might be a better direction for you that someone else sees. It might be you made some mistakes along the way so this is a good wake up call to re-evaluate and pivot. It might be that you are really not happy and haven’t woken to the fact, so you have some soul searching to do.
43. Anyone can get a job. Very few can truly have a career. Know the difference.
44. Get out of your comfort zone at work. If you are really good at one area or task, do your best to explore others as well. The more breadth you have, the more valuable you become. That said, you need to get your work done first and it is great to be an expert in at least a few things.
45. Work is people. Every career starts and ends with people. If you are the smartest person in the room and can’t deal with people, how smart can you really be? Figure it out.
46. When everyone comes to you with their issues and problems, that is a very good thing. It means they believe you can help them be better at what they do. Never complain when people come to you for help. If nobody comes to you, that just means they don’t think you can add value. That may seem like a simpler, relaxing and easier way to spend your day. Unfortunately it also means that you have a job and not a career and worse yet, that job might not last much longer. It’s best to be bothered constantly by people who need your help. It means you matter.
47. If you spend your career helping others solve their problems, making everyone around you better, accepting your share of blame for setbacks, and sharing credit for the successes, don’t be surprised if you eventually find yourself with a new title: CEO.
48. Conniving people ALWAYS get caught. It may take longer than you would like, but don’t worry, they will get caught.
49. You need to own and manage your career. Even if you have a great boss, amazing mentor, or wonderful company, you need to assume full responsibility. This requires you to give yourself honest and critical feedback. What do you need to learn to be better? What relationships are important for you to better nurture? What future paths do you see as logical progressions? What is the greatest need of the company that nobody else is rolling up their sleeves to accomplish? Take ownership of your career.
50. Constantly invest in yourself. It’s not a coincidence that the people who take night classes, read constantly, understand the company or industry best, and emerge themselves fully in their opportunities are always the ones who rise to the top. It’s never luck. Losers just say it is.
51. Just because you are a junior person doesn’t mean you can’t be a remarkable spokesperson for your job, company or industry. If you are the one who is recruiting other great people to join what you are doing, you are adding value. If you are trying to keep out the best people because they are competition for you, you are destroying value. Believe in where you work and spread the word. Also believe in yourself.
52. Learn how to interview people. It is a very important and valuable skill. The first place to learn is by honestly assessing the process you just went through. Who interviewed you well and who did it poorly. Who got to know your strengths and weaknesses and who were you able to fool. What were the real questions that made you reflect and which ones were a waste of time? Which interviewer did all the blabbing and which one got you to honestly reveal yourself? There are always two sides to every interaction, but only if you realize this and pay attention.
53. Arrogance is the one trait that will destroy your career. It’s just a matter of time. The more successful you become, the more humble you should be. A humble superstar is invincible.
54. Always deliver bad news honestly, promptly, and directly. Bad news rarely gets better. If the answer is a hard “no,” an immediate “no” is far better than a long maybe which eventually is just a more awkward “no.” If you make a mistake, own it. Never deflect. If you don’t understand something, speak up. Problems never just disappear. Small issues just fester and the longer the duration, the greater the odds that they become bigger problems.
55. When you are asked to do an assignment, do exactly as asked but always allow yourself some time to step back and reflect on what the purpose and conclusion of your work truly is. It is so easy to get caught up in the weeds and go robotically from task to task. Big picture reflection will allow you to grow. If you can’t figure out why you were asked to do something or what it will be used for, find the right time and ask the right person. It will also help you do the next task better and you will enjoy it more.
56. It is good to have an idea of where you want to be in 5 or 10 years. If you know the general direction, at least you know which way to constantly lean. This ultimate destination may change over the years, but that is fine. Nothing is carved in stone but if you are happy to just be constantly adrift and go wherever the tide takes you, don’t be surprised if you end up washed up on the shore. Pick a direction and use your inner compass. You can always modify as needed.
57. The most important and successful people are easily and constantly accessible. One may wonder why very important and successful people always return every call or email promptly. The answer is that they always did, and that is how they became successful and important. People who give the illusion of being too busy and important rarely are.
58. Be proud of where you work and what you do. Wear your company hat or t-shirt. If your company has an iPhone case with the logo on the back and you don’t want to use it, you may be at the wrong company. It is ok to “buy in” and be part of something bigger than you. Be proud. Never get brainwashed.
59. Never forget that while your job/career is tremendously important, it will never define who you are as a person.
60. Always be a good person. You know what this means. If you worry that you are doing something that goes against this simple code, don’t do it.
61. Respect experience. This doesn’t mean that new initiatives, fresh ideas, and youthful exuberance aren’t the lifeblood of every company or endeavor. They are. That said, real world experience from people who themselves were also once young and perhaps overly optimistic is really valuable and important. They may be completely wrong and the world may have changed dramatically, but maybe not. Listen, do the work, respect the viewpoint, and only then decide how best to move forward.
62. Embrace every single aspect of technology possible. Today, it may appear easy given how fresh and cutting edge you know you are as a recent graduate entering the workforce. But, trust me, in 5 years (probably less) there will be new people who will be even fresher with even sharper cutting edges and only when you experience that will you be able to honestly say you are open to embracing technological change.
63. It’s more important to work smart than hard. That said, the best people do both and there are plenty of them so get to it.
64. Only go back to graduate school if you know exactly why you are going and you get into the right one to achieve your objectives.
65. Always live within your means. It’s never too early to begin your financial plan. If you are frivolous in youth, you won’t have the means to be frivolous when you are older. Trust me, It’s fun to be frivolous when you are older. Read the “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George S. Clason. It will cost you a couple of hours but you will save a couple of decades. That’s what we call a good investment. Learn about this thing your parent’s hate called taxes. They suck but they are real and better to understand early than pretend they don’t exist. Always pay them.
66. You can get trapped into a job versus a career when you prematurely take on fixed obligations that limit your ability to be flexible. This can happen and sometimes this is just life. Try to have your eyes wide open and do your best to make pro-active choices versus being forced into reactive ones when it comes to changes in flexibility. This may require more specificity so I will spell it out: I’m referring to marriage, children, real estate, other large purchases, or anything that will limit your options to be incredibly flexible. I’m not saying don’t do any of these, I’m saying ideally there is a time and a place for all. Better for you to proactively choose than to have it chosen for you.
67. Constantly write down your life goals and re-assess. It is fine if they change over time. It is not fine if you are not honest in your re-assessments.
68. There are many ways to find satisfaction in one’s career. The rewards can be monetary, psychic, intellectual, spiritual, or other. Some people are fortunate enough to have a combination. What’s most important is to pick the career that best aligns with the reward(s) that you value the most and then allow yourself to enjoy it. Never be jealous of people who picked careers with different rewards because that only serves to belittle the goals and objectives you have set for yourself. You have to know and be honest with yourself as well.
69. If you are fortunate enough to have some monetary rewards as a result of your chosen path, you have a responsibility and an obligation to share with those less financially fortunate. It is your right to pick the group of people, cause or issue to support, but you need to start as soon as possible. It is never too early and it is never about the quantum of money. To be able to give back is a privilege.
70. The best gift of philanthropy you can give is your energy, spirit and time. With 100 percent certainty, you will be the greatest beneficiary from this investment and commitment.
71. People whose jobs offer primarily psychic and spiritual rewards may wind up being the wealthiest, even though it might not seem so all the time.
72. You are now in the real world and $hit happens. For some reason, people love winners. There will be no challenge finding a best friend when you are on top of the world. It may appear a little lonelier and quieter when everything is going badly for you and you find yourself a disappointed mess. Miraculously this is the only time you will find out who are your true friends. People with character shine when they see people in need. Always surround yourself with people that have true character and rid yourself of fakes. To successfully do so, you must have true character yourself. This is one case where opposites do not attract.
73. Know your boundaries. Your boss and your boss’s boss may one day become your friend, but odds are today they are not. Don’t overstep. Don’t presume. Pay attention to cues and always be aware.
74. There is a really important concept called EQ. It is more important than IQ. People with great EQ can always hire people with high IQ. If you don’t know what EQ is, look it up.
75. If you create a lot of wealth in your career and along the way you forget who you are, you are very poor. Wealth never makes you a better person. It could make you a worse person.
76. Nobody gets wealthy because their goal was to become rich. It is always a bi-product of being passionate about working with others to create something that adds value to people’s lives.
77. It is a lot of fun to be part of building something you..
Newsfeed and Instagram accounts are overflowing with them.
So are smartphone camera rolls.
And everywhere we look, we see hearts of moms and dads bursting with pride. BURSTING!
The world right now is full of humble, heartfelt, and gracious posts and pics (and thoughts and feelings) about all the very smart children, tweens, or teenagers roaming among us.
It must be because it’s May, which means it’s officially “Achievement Olympics” season.
It is awards season in high school. (@rubypeanut Twenty20)
End of the School Year Awards Ceremony
Just about every day now is seems there is a different honors assembly, induction ceremony, awards luncheon, or recognition banquet, where adults eagerly gather around glazed eyed students, paying homage to them in a variety of staged ways, all to showcase their diligent hard work and dedication to everything they touch.
There are academic ones and sports ones. There are band ones and drama ones. There are STEM distinctions and art adulations. There are plenty of very esteemed events for plenty of very esteemed students, where badges, cords, certificates, sashes, and pins will be placed and given and wrapped and pinned across the chests of some very deserving students.
And we will be witness to all of these deferences to dedicated kids whether we want to or not, because many of us will actually have students being honored so we’ll be there anyway- camera ready. And if not, we’re sure to see the accolades shared later on Facebook, in school newsletters, church bulletins, and neighborhood newspapers, and finally in the glowing announcements made by our friends and family anywhere and everywhere we consume information.
The “Achievement Olympics” brings with it so much to be proud of, and yet for many parents (and kids) it also brings so much to worry about. For parents, there is worry about their kids who will never receive any type of achievement, and what that may mean for them and their futures.
Will my kid be able to find work? Will he be accepted into any type of post high school education, or is that solely reserved for high achievers? Where will he fit in among that crowd? Or will he ever? Can someone tell my average kid he doesn’t need academic achievements to be somebody?
For the kids who go through K-12 education riding the back of the average or below average horse, and who will sit as audience members for hundreds of these award ceremonies, what do we tell them when they wonder and worry about things like,
Am I capable of future success even if I’m not up there? Can kids like me achieve happiness and meaning? Will I be able to work next to the high achievers? Can someone tell me average is not a bad thing?
I have sat at many an academic awards ceremony watching my kids on stage receive recognition for things that quite honestly, most of the time came easy for them. But I’ve also sat at many academic awards ceremonies with one of my kids absent from the stage and instead sitting next to me, where together we starred up at a stage full of promise, a future of promise that didn’t include him.
Will my average kid turn out fine? Will yours? Does average even have value anymore in our society?
Of course they will, and of course it does, but that doesn’t mean kids are immune to feeling less than, or need someone to recognize them for the promising future they can and will have regardless of GPA.
Do I think kids should be honored for a D+? Nope. Do I think we should be giving every average kid some special average certificate just so they don’t feel left out? No way. But here’s what I wish and want my very average kid to know, and here is what I wish someone somewhere along the way would say to the average kids:
What to Say to “Average Kids”
Average kids write books that get rejected over and over again. Then they win Pulitzers.
Average kids start businesses that go bankrupt. Average kids also start businesses they later sell for millions.
Average kids go to four year colleges and fail out. Average kids also leave college with their Ph.D.
Average kids get high school diplomas and technical/vocational degrees. They fix planes, roads, bad haircuts, bad plumbing, and you can bet they fix many of your bad days.
Average kids make food, serve food, drive the trucks that deliver food, grow food, and even own the restaurants.
Average kids join the army. Some leave as privates. Some leave as colonels.
Average kids draw blood, draw blueprints, and also draw the same inferences and conclusions about all the same things high achievers do. And sometimes average kids realize this before the award winners do.
Where was that award for street smarts again?
Average kids grow up and buy cars and homes. Look around you, that’s an average kid’s name on that work truck, and that building, and that school, and see that street over there? It’s named after an average kid.
Do average kids grow up to be average adults? Yes, sometimes they do. But average adults? Well, it turns out they end up doing plenty of very amazing (and non-average) things. Things that require honor, character, goodness and pride, and all things that adulthood gives no award ceremony for.
But that’s ok, because average kids? They don’t need an award to do amazing things. They just need to be told they can.
I’ve had it with the sappy articles that come out at graduation time from mothers mourning the loss of our children’s childhood.
I’ve had it with the sad posts that make it sound like our lives are no longer going to be worth living once we drop our kids off at college.
Yes, of course it’s natural to look back and feel sentimental about those swiftly flying years. And of course it’s natural to miss the adorable, chubby babies, the silly, precocious preschoolers, or the energetic, carefree spirits that our kids once were.
But if you find yourself hanging on to those wistful feelings for too long, there’s a good chance your anguish is more about YOU than about them.
For those who are crying about the empty nest, this advice is for you: stop crying and embrace new beginnings! (@Phototalker via Twenty20)
Don’t Fear Being an Empty Nester
For one thing, when we see our kids from babyhood into adulthood, it can be a painful reminder of our own mortality. As the years roll on with increasing speed, we can’t help but reminded that we are getting older, too—closer to old age, and closer to the end of our lives. It’s not a pleasant thought, and if you’re really struggling with this new season of life, this truth could be weighing on you subconsciously, even if you don’t realize it.
Perhaps we’re also allowing guilt to rear its ugly head. Essay after essay comes out advising young parents to cherish every second with their children—“The days are long, but the years are short,” they say; someday we’ll miss these days of diapers and playdates and carpools, they tell us. And suddenly, when all of those things are wrapping up for good and our kids don’t need us as much, we may think, “Gosh, maybe I didn’t cherish the sleepless nights and the tantrums and the homework battles and the rainy soccer games as much as I should have.” And we feel guilty.
If I could offer advice to new parents, I am sure I would join the chorus of those who tell them to cherish those fleeting childhood days, and I’m sure I would try to express to them how time flies by even faster than you think it will. But I would tell them more:
I’d tell them not to lose themselves in this whole parenting gig, because it really is temporary. Don’t stop doing things for yourself. Figure out what you like to do on your own, and do it. Cultivate and tend to your relationships with your friends and your husband or wife. Because if you believe the only thing that brings you joy is your children, you’re setting yourself up for an unhealthy, codependent relationship with your adult children someday.
I’d also tell them that there are parts of every stage of childhood to embrace—but there are also parts that we just have to ENDURE. It’s okay to admit you are struggling with your baby’s colic, or your toddler’s picky eating, or the battles to get your kid on the bus on time in the morning, or their academic or social struggles, or the sullen and angry teen. You don’t have to love every minute of any of that.
Just recognize that your child needs your unconditional love when things are tough. It will all pay off in the long run. It wasn’t until my kids ran into some super-sized painful adult problems that I realized all of the difficult crap we dealt with during childhood was just preparing us all—helping me to figure out how to best support them, helping them to believe that they could make it through anything and that their father and I were always in the corner and they would always be loved.
What I Love About My Young Adults
I’d also tell them that, just like every other stage of parenting, there is much to embrace about the empty nest phase. That deep, unconditional love you felt for your sweet little baby is still there when they grow into a big, hairy young man or a confident, independent young woman. In fact, this emerging adulthood stage is pretty darn great in its own right.
This is the age when our kids may finally kind of “get” what all we, their parents, have done for them. This is the age when they are able to express it, too. When you’re in the thick of dealing with a defiant middle schooler or a troubled teen, you may not be able to imagine that the day will come when they will be able to sincerely thank you for being there for them, and mean it. But that day will indeed come, and they will be the sweetest words you’ve ever heard.
If you’re one of those moms who is reading every sentimental post about graduation with tears in her eyes; if you’re dreading college drop-off with every fiber of your being and you’re not sure you’re going to survive the empty nest, this advice is for you: Embrace this stage, just like all the rest. Marvel at the amazing young adult you’ve raised. Look forward to every exciting new chapter that awaits them. But be sure to enjoy your newfound freedom. Focus on your own interests. Try new things. Keep learning. Have fun with your spouse. Spend more time with friends.
Life moves pretty fast. Don’t waste it longing for the past.
If you have a teenager at home, there’s no doubt you’re probably all too familiar with the huge variety of teen drama series that are currently offered by streaming TV services. Teens don’t watch TV the way we did, and why should they? They have the luxury of binge watching anything from the teen reality offerings on MTV (think 16 and Pregnant), to dystopian or vampiric laced dramas and high school romcoms on Netflix, to reruns of the ever popular Gossip Girls and the like on Amazon Prime.
Teen viewers are big business for streaming services, partly because they self-evangelize what and when they watch, sharing across their social media channels how much they’re liking a certain show, thus promoting the heck of it, and spreading the popularity of a TV series as if it was a homecoming court race.
So what’s the new teen drama show “Euphoria” about, and what can parents and teens expect from it?
The show, which will premiere on June 16 right after the very popular adult drama Big Little Lies, is based loosely on an Israeli teen drama of the same name. It’s being executively produced by Drake, yes that Drake- the rapper, producer, and former Degrassi star, and is written and co-produced by Sam Levinson.
And besides bringing in heavy hitters behind the camera, Euphoria will feature a formidably famous cast that most teens will recognize, including former Disney Channel star Zendaya as the main character, and an ensemble cast that includes Maude Apatow, Angus Cloud, Eric Dane, Alexa Demie, Jacob Elordi, Barbie Ferreira, Nika King, Storm Reid, Hunter Schafer, Algee Smith and Sydney Sweeney.
But although it stars some former very bubble gum teen actors and actresses, the show is very much not teen bubble gum. According to HBO’s official page for the series, Euphoria “follows a group of high school students as they navigate love and friendships in a world of drugs, sex, trauma, and social media.”
This is not a goofy, sentimental coming of age, or awkward teen years kind of show, where the biggest dilemma is who the prom queen will be. Rather, Euphoria plans to go places that few (if any) teen TV dramas have gone, and it will be able to do so both visually and scripturally because it’s on HBO, not network television.
So what exactly can we expect from Euphoria? Based on the trailer, and the fact its creators say it does have many similarities to the original Israeli version, we can expect to see teenagers in very adult situations, including the main character Rue played by Zendaya, saying “”This is the feeling I’ve been searching for my entire life,” in which she is referring to how she feels under the influence of drugs.
We can also expect there to be nudity, sex, alcohol use and abuse, social media related influences and conflicts, as well as some serious dark and potentially edgy situations and other traumas that often beset today’s teenagers.
To me, Euphoria is one of the most raw, honest looks at what it looks like now to be a young person. It’s definitely different than what I’ve ever done before, and there are going to be some themes that are tougher to deal with. But at the end of the day, it’s somebody’s reality, and that’s the story we’re telling. I don’t know what it’s like to have had Instagram be a part of my life from the beginning of time. It’s just a different beast.
Although there are no ratings for Euphoria (or any HBO series for that matter) in the same way there are for movies, there are “pay television content descriptors” shown right before each episode that give parents and teens some idea of the content in that particular episode. For example, you may see an “N” for nudity, or “SSC” for strong sexual content.
Parents may want to preview the first episode of Euphoria to make sure its content is age appropriate for their teens, because age 13 is a far cry from 18 when it comes to generalizing what “all” teens can watch and process. And if your teens are just looking for a cheerful, nutty, summertime show that features young adults in “High School Musical” type scenes, Euphoria may not be for them.
I have a thirteen-year-old daughter and she loves spending the night with friends. It’s become a regular weekend ritual. Sometimes they all come here, and sometimes she’s at one of her friends’ houses.
I hear stories of lots of great snacks, late nights, movies, and too much Arizona iced tea so I try to put out a respectable spread when they all stay here. They are having the time of their lives and I’m so glad she gets to live out these years making great friends and memories.
I did the same in high school and it still feels like a gift.
I had to have an uncomfortable talk with another mom. (@HueTube Twenty20)
It’s Never Easy to Question Someone’s Parenting Decisions
As she’s gotten older, I’ve grown more relaxed about where she goes and I don’t feel the need to collect as many details about her nights out as I used to. I’m fine with simply touching base with the host parent just to confirm that they are going to be home, especially since I already know her friends and have met their parents at sporting and school events.
But something changed a few months ago and I realized I wasn’t asking enough questions about how my daughter was spending her time while away from home.
I asked her how much time she had spent with him and whether he had also spent the night at the friend’s house too. And the more I asked, the more uncomfortable she got.
It turns out my daughter and her other 13 year-old friends were in the company of 17 and 18 year-old boys until the wee hours of the morning without any supervision.
As far as I could gather from my daughter, nothing happened except for some hand-holding. I’m not saying anyone did anything wrong, but I felt compelled to call the mother and ask some more questions about what was going on. As soon as I placed a call to the other parent.
I didn’t want to sound judgmental or accuse her of being a neglectful parent by any means. I simply wanted to talk to the adult who was there and get a few more facts about what type of supervision she was comfortable with when other kids came to her house. I wanted to make sure we were on the same page.
My stomach did a flip and I dialed the number.
Right away she felt attacked even though I tried to tread gently. I asked questions about how late the kids were allowed to stay up and hang out in the basement without an adult there. I was calling her to make sure she was being diligent when my child was under her roof. I was trusting her for an evening to watch over my daughter and I didn’t feel really good about the news I’d heard. There was no hiding how I felt and she clearly picked up on it.
I explained to her that her daughter was my daughter’s best friend and she loved going over to visit them and I made sure that I appreciated all the things she did for those girls. I wanted the fun to continue but I also needed to feel better about her being there.
And honestly, if it was okay with her to mix 17 and 18- year-old kids with 13-year-old kids all evening, I was going to have to change my mind about letting my kid sleep there.
A tough spot during our conversation was when she said, “They are good kids, and I don’t want to have to watch them. I don’t want to have to worry about this.”
The truth is, I have an older teenage boy and if he had friends over to spend the night, and so did my daughter, I would be worried about leaving them alone unattended all night. I am responsible for what happens under my roof and while I don’t believe in watching them like a hawk, I feel it’s my duty to make sure everyone stays in their lane. I want to feel that the same thing is happening when I send my kids to someone else’s house.
Our conversation ended up being productive. But it was touch and go there for a while. We both have our kids’ best interest in mind, but it’s never easy when someone questions your parenting decisions or skills.
As a mother, I had to express my concern because it is my child we are talking about. And I know for a fact I am not comfortable with my 13-year-old daughter being unsupervised all night long with kids who are so much older than she is.
It’s not about trust. It’s not because I feel like I have not done my job as a parent. It’s because it feels like too much responsibility to put on her right now and the fear of her being in a situation she isn’t prepared for trumps my fear of having an uncomfortable conversation and feeling like I’m being too overprotective.
I’m sure some parents feel as I do, while others would agree with the other mom–it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we speak up, and at least try to have effective conversations with our kids and with other parents. We need to do the best we can with the tools we are given.
I realize I need to ask more questions before and after my teens go on a sleepover because it’s my job to monitor their independence and not let them have too much freedom too soon.
That can only be measured by me–after all, I know them better than any other adult. And, as their mother, where they spend their time is still my call.
There comes a time when our kids stop asking us a million questions and it may seem like their curiosity (and zest for life) has blown out the window but really, as the teen years approach they are more curious about relationships, the meaning of life, and what’s ahead for them. There are so many unknowns creeping into their lives and sex, whether they admit to it or not, is one of the big topics that leaves them feeling vulnerable and uncertain.
When I was a teenager, I had a lot of questions when it came to sex but I was quiet about most of them. I’m pretty sure this is the case for most teens. It’s easier to talk to a friend in a joking way or try to find the information quietly. No one wants to admit what they don’t know in this area.
It’s never easy to talk to teens about sex.
Why Parents Need to Talk to Their Teens About Sex
Sex isn’t easy to talk about with our children, ever. And if there’s one thing I want to do it’s to be able to answer every question that I can for my kids. I want to create the space for them to feel that they can come to me with anything. I want to do my best to stay neutral around the subject.
Yes, they are my kids and the thought of them being sexual is uncomfortable but this isn’t about me and my discomfort.
It’s not my life; it’s theirs. And a part of parenting teens and young adults is being aware that they are probably going to have a sex life and I need to get really comfy with that. Having one serious talk and just hoping for the best isn’t going to work for me or my kids.
I’m a communicator; I am a talker. I want to hear about their fears, struggles, and I never want anything to be off-limits when it comes to having a conversation.
I started talking to my kids about sex really early out of necessity. I’d learned my first child heard about the male and female anatomy and how you “make sex” one day on the swings at recess when he was 5.
I wanted my voice to be the one he heard on this topic because I’m pretty sure I knew more than his kindergarten classmate, Tommy who was conducting the in-depth lesson.
I followed suit with all my kids with an initial talk about how to make a baby, what sex is, and the importance of asking before you touch someone. And I’ve followed that up by being completely open about sex.
We’ve watched shows about it. I’ve asked them questions that make them want to run away from me. And if there is a sex scene happening in a movie we don’t fast forward because it’s uncomfortable although I’ve come close a few times. We sit in the discomfort and then I use it as a teaching moment.
For instance, my daughter and I were watching a show where the woman was going home with a man she knew didn’t love her. She wanted a relationship with him but he was clear he didn’t want the same. I used that opportunity to make sure that my daughter thinks twice before she gives herself to someone who doesn’t want the same things she does.
They love this (NOT), and try to keep me from “turning everything into a life lesson.” But alas, I can’t help myself.
I am going to assume my teenage kids are going to have sex. Maybe I’ll know for sure one day if they are because they will be comfortable enough to tell me, and maybe they won’t. Either way it’s fine, I just want them to feel like they can tell me if that’s what they want to do.
Also, it’s my job to educate them about it and that doesn’t happen by talking with them once and never bringing it up again.
I take them to their doctor and remind them to talk to the doctor if they are having sex and assure them that anything they tell the doctor stays between the two of them.
I keep the conversation serious but light so it doesn’t feel too intimidating. Talking about sex shouldn’t feel scary or taboo. It should feel normal because sex is, in fact, it is a very normal part of life.
The best thing I believe I can do is teach my children how to respect their own body and other people’s bodies. I can remind them feelings play a big role in sex. I can tell them to wait and be intimate with people they care about and having a one-night fling isn’t a great idea. I can tell them to be honest about how they feel about someone they want to be sexual with and if they don’t want a commitment outside of fooling around they should say so.
I can do all these things in the hopes of getting my teenagers to wait for the right one and have responsible sex when they are the appropriate age but there is no guarantee that will happen.
So, I’ll just assume–I’ll assume they are going to have sex and I will be here to answer any questions and give support no matter how uncomfortable it is.
I don’t believe in forcing things like a smoky eye, a pair of jeans that don’t fit, or a friendship that feels toxic and hard. But I do believe that having a solid relationship with my teens around the subject of sex is vital so I’m not afraid to force it a bit.
There is much debate about the worst stage of parenting. Is it when they are newborns and don’t sleep? Is it when they are toddlers and you can’t leave them alone for a second? Perhaps all of those blurry elementary school years where they tell really bad jokes? Maybe tween snark? Or possibly teenage know-it-all assholery?
While each offers their own challenges, and by challenges I mean moments where you want to claw the skin off your face, I’d like to offer you another, lesser-known stage of parenting to consider. The Wallet Years.
Teens are the most expensive age group to parent.
The “Wallet Years:” When We Spend The Most Money as Parents
What are the Wallet Years? Well, they are exactly what they sound like. The years where the main reasons your kids need you is for your wallet.
I will be honest. When I was dealing with three tiny humans who couldn’t fend for themselves…feeding them, bathing them, getting them all dressed and hauling their helpless lumps into car seats, I would have been very, very interested to hear about the Wallet Years. “They only need me for my money? Go on. I’m listening.”
The thing about the Wallet Years is you can’t see them coming. You are so distracted with the years it feels like your kids are literally growing from your body, hanging on you, lurking everywhere like a 1980s horror movie bad guy, that you start to buy into the fear they will never have a life outside of you.
It is then that you realize they were hustling you all along. Henceforth you will only see the back of their heads, and come to understand that your big contribution to their well-being is forking over the cash.
The Wallet Years start off with the shock of car insurance. You will have to be revived with smelling salts when you see how much it costs to add a sixteen year old to your policy. When you come to, they explain that now that you have a teen driver you need an umbrella policy. The minute you hear “umbrella policy” you are officially past middle-aged. Past! Whatever shreds of your youth you were desperately braiding together to stay relevant disintegrate instantly. Try being cool while knowing you have an umbrella policy. It’s humanly impossible.
Next up in the massive money hemorrhaging? College. You’ll foolishly cling to the fantasy there’s enough time for the sad amount of money you socked away to magically multiple. It won’t. But don’t worry. You’ve got other, more immediate, problems. You’re such a rookie you don’t even know what “college” triggers in terms of the wallet. It’s stunning, really. An absolute shock to the financial system that is fragile already, at best.
I have two words for you that should terrify you. Standardized Testing. Holy hell, buckle up Wallet Parents…here comes Johnny.
Do you have any idea how much it costs to sit for the SAT? And now it’s the ACT too. And there’s classes and tutoring. Oh, you’re down the rabbit hole. You’re doing things you swore you’d never do. You’re totally using your wallet to game the system, and while you are disgusted with yourself, you are doing it nonetheless. You start to wonder how you are affording all of this nonsense. No. One. Knows.
Look, the Hair Pulling Madness of the College Tour is too much to get into here. Let’s just say, aside from it being a comedy of wild inconvenience, it’s also a flipping fortune. Hotels, gas, flights, the bookstore visit!?! But the thing that put me over the edge? The ten bucks Blankety-Blank University charged me to park. Really? You can’t spring for parking when I’m looking to drop a couple hundred thousand in your school? Mortal enemies.
All of this will have you asking yourself, if we had all of this money, why weren’t you driving a Lamborghini? I mean aside from the fact that they are douchey cars that I’d never drive, you get the point. How is this math working out? Is it the new math I don’t understand? The Wallet Years will defy every law of finances you’ve ever understood.
And all of this spending is petty prelude to the cost of actually applying to college. You will laugh about that $10 parking charge. (No. I will never laugh about it.) Every school they apply to is like $75. That shit adds up. And sending those standardized test scores? A goddamn racket, I tell you! I’d get into the specifics, but I don’t think you can handle it. First rule of The Wallet Years? Don’t do the math.
But fine. Whatever. Somehow you find the money. And their independence brings you more free time you claim you’ve wanted. You aren’t wiping anyone’s nose or butt. You never hear a knock-knock joke that makes you question your child’s intelligence. There is no way The Wallet Years are the worst stage of parenting.
Not so fast.
While the early parenting years are physically exhausting, at least the lumps of mush love you beyond love. The Wallet Years? Not so much.
Look, I have a great kid. But dammit to hell if during these Wallet Years she was not master of a special kind of snark that took us by surprise, impressing us, if we are honest, with the commitment to it. Then again, it was probably a normal amount of developmentally appropriate attitude toward parents, but couple it with nonstop spending, and, wow, it’s sandpaper on your very souls.
A common theme of the Wallet Years is reiterating to your child how much money you are spending on them. This lecture will become the very thing that defines your middle age breakdown and makes you realize that there’s no such thing as not becoming a complete parental cliché. You don’t even care. The Wallet lectures are your Mt. Everest now. Intellectually you know it will be years until they understand your sacrifices. Emotionally? You are blinded by your determination to be the first parent ever to breakthrough. I’m here to tell you, you will die on this mountain.
There is some good news about the Wallet Years. Once the college tuition bill arrives, the world will go still. It will make every expense you’ve ever had for your kids seem like a joke. That bad boy staring you in the face will rightfully scare the crap out of you. After a few psychotic meltdowns about the cost, both in private with your spouse, and misguidedly in front of your child, destroying a part of her you vowed you’d never harm, you will find a surprising place of acceptance.
Yes, you will make peace with the Wallet Years because you will remember that this was what it was always about. This dream you had when your kids were born that you could get them through their childhood in one piece, survive it yourself, and help them out as best as possible with the college stuff so that they can go forth and manifest their destiny that YOU put in motion when you decided to bring them into this world.
So, are the Wallet Years the worst parenting years? Without a doubt. But not because of the money. It’s because that for the first time in any parenting stage you are finally able to grasp the truth that as fast as your Benjamins are slipping away, so are you kids. And that is harder than you can possibly imagine.
Still…Blankety-Blank University. $10 to park? Screw you.
Meredith Trotta is a freelance writer and blogger. She blogs at Mblazoned.com about the honest hilarity of parenting, marriage, and, reluctantly, being middle-aged. She is a featured blogger on Huff Post, both U.S. and internationally. Meredith has been published on Scary Mommy, Grown & Flown, Ski Magazine, MamaMia, and Newsner to name a few, and has been translated and shared around the world. She has been featured on Good Morning America and Australia’s Sunrise for The Default Parent and Open Letter to My Kids About Summer respectively, and interviewed on radio shows around the world.
I couldn’t wait to become a mother– it was seriously my only goal after I turned 20–so when my (then) husband and I agreed I’d stay home when I got pregnant with our first child, I was in heaven.
I was so in love with this child that I had a hard time when anyone else held him. There was no way I could think about leaving him. In fact, I knew a woman who would leave her family once a month to recharge and I couldn’t wrap my head around how she could do that to her child.
She’d go away for the day, or the weekend depending on what their schedules were like and what they could afford. There were nights she went to a hotel down the road to be alone, watch hours of television and take an uninterrupted bath. Then, there were times she’d go hang out with her mom for the day and let her husband tend to the kids.
She was a good mother. She loved her kids. But I have to admit something: deep down, I judged her. I didn’t understand how someone could crave that much time away from their children.
Moms need to take time away from their kids.
The Benefits to Women Who Take Time Off From Their Families
We were talking about it one day when it dawned on me she wasn’t doing anything to her children, she was doing something for them. “I need to do this. When I don’t, I get so crabby and irritated. I know some people think it’s selfish but it works for my family.”
It was then I realized it had almost been a year. Sure, I’d had the occasional hair appointment or trip to the store alone but that clearly wasn’t doing it. We booked a weekend away then and there.
I missed my son tremendously and had trouble sleeping the first night. My mind was racing wondering if he was all right without me. And hello, he was just fine. Actually, he probably needed a break from me more than I needed one from him.
And when I returned to him I felt a freshness I’d been missing for so long.
Taking a momcation is necessary and most of us don’t even realize it. We push through our days trying to tell ourselves if we can just hang on until bedtime, we will be fine.
Every other job allows you take time off because it’s necessary to perform your best, and that’s how we need to view motherhood. While we can never completely disconnect from our kids and families, nor do we want to, we need to prioritize taking time for ourselves whether it’s with a friend, relative, or solo.
It not only makes us appreciate our kids and the daily grind in a way we can’t if we never get a respite; time away rejuvenates us and our families reap those benefits too.
The Wisconsin Medical Journal found that “Women who take vacations frequently are less likely to become tense, depressed, or tired, and are more satisfied with their marriage.”
It has shown my teenagers that I know how to prioritize myself and my life isn’t centered around them every moment. Now that their social life has picked up and we are getting closer to the time they will be moving on and out of the house, they see an independent mom who isn’t afraid to be alone, or go have fun with girlfriends.
I’m glad I took that initial first trip. Although I was really nervous and wanted to stay home more than I wanted to go, I knew deep down in order to be a better mom and wife I needed to do it.
Remember, it doesn’t have to be luxurious, long, or expensive. Usually a few days does the trick. And if you are still doubting the power of getting away and feeling hesitant about the idea, remember your whole family will be better off because you are taking the time to refresh and rejuvenate.
So, book that hotel room, see if you can crash with your bestie, or spend the day alone walking the beach. It helps clear your head, gives your perspective.
You certainly deserve it, Mama. Stop thinking you don’t.
Well, baby, here we are. Tomorrow, you graduate from college. So, I’m sure it comes as no big surprise that I’ve got a few things to say. And because you know how I’m wired on the inside, you know it’s apt to get a little drippy, so bear with me.
Now I know you’re happiest when you’re not the focus of my column and I totally understand why you feel that way. Privacy, anonymity and all that. I get it, I really do. And that’s why I’ve always tried to respect your request to stay under the radar. Until today.
Today, the day before you graduate, a columnist-mom’s gotta do what a columnist-mom’s gotta do and pour it all out into a Word Doc for all the world to see. Cause if I don’t unload some of these big, overpowering feels I’ve got filling up my chest cavity, mommy’s gonna s’plode. Plus, I think we both know that I won’t be in any condition to talk to you tomorrow. And here is usually where I do my best thinking.
Dear daughter, I’m most proud of the person you’ve become since you started freshman year. (@lelia_milaya via Twenty20)
Now there are dozens of things I could talk about here, I know that. And it’s been a challenge to think of just the right way to explain what I’m feeling as a mom, watching my first child toe the line at the start of her true adult life.
Like, I could talk about all the pride I feel about everything you’ve accomplished academically while you’ve been at school. But I won’t. That would be too predictable and a little too braggy and you’d kill me in my sleep if I did that publicly.
I could share how beautiful it’s been to watch you strike out on your semi-own and live and thrive and manage your time and your life and your relationships like a bona-fide grownup. But I’m not.
Or, I could tell you how proud I am of all the ways you’ve reached out and connected with your college community and found your people and your path and your passion, because that’s some inspiring stuff. But I’m not gonna go there either.
There’ll be no long, drawn-out soliloquy about how I just don’t know where all the time has gone. Or how it seems like just yesterday you took your first steps in our D.C. apartment. Or smeared your first spaghetti dinner all over your face. Or slept through the night that very first time and scared the @$%! out of me thinking I slept through your cries. Or how it feels impossible that the cap and gown I just ironed last night is really yours. Nah. I’m not going anywhere near any of that.
And I’m also not interested in talking about the grades on your transcript or how many endorsements you have on your LinkedIn page or how well-positioned you are to land a job right out of school. I mean, yeah, ok, those things are important, but they’re not what’s really on my mind.
What I’m most focused on in this moment is who you’ve become as a person since you left for school freshman year—what you’re walking away with on the inside. That’s what’s filling up my heart today and making the tears fall. And it’s what’s giving me the greatest sense of pride.
To me, it’s all been about your willingness to discover your best self. How tirelessly and deliberately you’ve learned how to engage with all the people around you to find your own unique place in the world. It’s about the leaps of faith and risks you took by experimenting with things like majors and friendships and politics and social justice; and the pivots you made when you knew a direction didn’t feel right. Those are the big takeaways as far as I’m concerned and the reasons why we know you’re ready for what comes next.
So, as you get ready to walk the walk tomorrow, all I really want to do here is say thank you. Justthank you. Thanks for taking all these chances on yourself and believing that the sky is definitely the limit. Thank you for being willing to fall and fail and screw it all up before you got it right. Thank you for doing exactly what any parent hopes their kid does with this experience. Just. Thank. You.
Now go do all the same stuff for the rest of your life.
Lisa Sugarman lives just north of Boston, Massachusetts. She writes the nationally syndicated opinion column It Is What It Is and is the author of “How to Raise Perfectly Imperfect Kids and Be Ok with It—Real Tips & Strategies for Parents of Today’s Gen Z Kids, and
Untying Parent Anxiety: 18 Myths That Have You in Knots—And How to Get Free, and LIFE: It Is What It Is,” available on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, and at select bookstores everywhere. Read and discuss all her columns and books at lisasugarman.com. Or, find them on GrownAndFlown.com, Hot Moms Club, LittleThings.com, MommingHubb.com, 50 Shades of Aging, More Content Now,Wickedlocal.com,This Mama Wines,and Care.com.
My child is leaving. Those little words ring huge like a clanging bell in my head.
For those of us facing offspring number one’s imminent departure I wonder, did anybody see this coming? Why didn’t anybody tell me this part is hard, nasty and scary.
What was I thinking when I told my daughter, “You should apply to distant universities, so you can have the authentic university experience”? Was I on drugs?
Of course, she applied and got in to a faraway school and is leaving in August. Do I get points for my now completely fake enthusiasm at her cool new adventure when all I want is to tuck her in my pocket forever?
Our grad posse are all going through this or something similar as the critical moments of high school slip through our astonished hands.
So what can I do?
My remaining teen is about to be spoiled rotten and he’s probably sweating it. (@KellyAdele via Twenty20)
What it Feels Like With Your Last Teen at Home
Wait… I know! I will turn my full attention to offspring number two. I realize with a start that he is still in my pocket! “Oh how glorious” I think to myself, I get to keep this one.
It is starting to dawn on my remaining teen that all the attention will be on him. Relentless fussing of a kind he has never experienced before. He will no longer be the less visible quiet one, or the kid who can cruise on his sister’s coattails. He is now number one and he is starting to sweat.
I can almost hear the panicked thoughts in his head:
“What if they start to notice my video gaming and try to play too?”
“Why is my underwear being ironed?”
“She is packing my lunches again, what the hell?”
“27 questions about school and my buddies today, save me from this tyranny!”
“No! I am not seeing anybody Mom, jeez”
He is going to start feeling like a little Hobbit just trying to run with his ring, but now the eye of Sauron is on him with a ferocity only a Mother could achieve.
I keep thinking about life in the AD (after departure) period of our lives. When I occasionally allow myself to coast into the happy place in my mind, I think about how we will bond as a family in new ways when it is just the three of us. Then I give my head a quick shake and throw a little honesty water on myself. What teenage boy wants to interact with his parents? Is that not some kind of canon of the teen boy commandments? “Thou shalt not speak to your parents in full sentences”.
Then I start making a new plan. Maybe he would like to visit his sister at school? We could all fly for a long weekend and hang out on her campus and go out to dinner. I started to float the plan to my husband and stopped myself. How precisely did I think that would actually go? We would come storming on to her dorm floor with her little brother unwillingly in tow. I can already hear the protests from him, and the eye rolling from her. Alright, this scheme is not going to work.
Back to the boy. I know he will have to pick classes for his penultimate year in school. Maybe he needs help and guidance? That could be a thing, maybe?
Driving lessons! Maybe we could teach him to drive, that would be fun! Said no person ever.
I still plan to make my boy incredibly uncomfortable by inviting his buddies to stay for dinner. My scheme to buy him an ice cream when I pick him up from work is one of my more popular ideas. I will make him a lunch when he is running late for the school bus and take his picture as often as I can get away with.
If I am honest, I might be making up for the three years of the only child bliss that his sister had before he came along. Also, perhaps compensating for the year I have spent preparing for my firstborn to leave the nest when she was the star of the show. With her gone, perhaps my son will feel like he is less in the shadows, or he will be blinded by the glaring light of attention from his parents.
Either way, he will have to tolerate more hugs, more questions about his day and girls in the next two years. I am not going to let another grade 12 year sneak up on me again. I will see it coming and squeeze every moment out of it.
Magnolia Ripkin is sort of like your mouthy Aunt who drinks too much and tells you how to run your life, except funny… well mostly funny… like a cold glass of water in the face. She writes a flagrantly offensive blog at MagnoliaRipkinAdvice Blog answering pressing questions about business, personal development, parenting, heck even the bedroom isn’t safe. She is the Editor in Chief at BluntMoms. Other places to find her: Huffington Post, The Mighty Modern Loss, The Mid, Her Stories Project, Thought Catalog, and Scary Mommy. You can also check her out in two amazing compendiums of bloggers who are published in “I Just Want To Be Alone.” and Martinis and Motherhood, Tales of Wonder, Woe and WTF. Join her shenanigans on Facebook: Magnolia Advice Blog