Tag Archives: teenagers


The saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words. People use pictures to add cute captions, and then spread them around the internet like very soft peanut butter. And, like peanut butter, some of them stick.

Some pictures are used for keepsakes, frames, scrapbooks, and mementoes. Others are used for sales, promos, attention, and education.

Some pictures simply reside in our own head, and we hope we never forget the moments that created them.

The first time I saw each of my children. Their respective faces on various Christmas mornings. The giggles of either of them when they got puppy kisses. The look of happy resignation on the faces of my grandchildren when they remember that the price of a peek in Granny’s cookie jar is a great big hug. Youngest’s face when she finally got her driver’s license. Youngest with her long-awaited High School diploma. Oldest’s reaction when she learned she had been accepted into her nursing program early. The look of adoration when Oldest talks about her man. My own husband’s face when he looks at me that way.

Some pictures we just can’t ever get out of our head no matter how hard we try.

My mother’s hands when they bled from the rope that drew water out of the well. The hurt and anger the last time I saw my father before he turned and vanished from my childhood. My grandmother in her casket at the funeral home. Oldest in a hospital bed after a severe trauma. The look of hatred hurled at me through teenage eyes.

Youngest in handcuffs when the police came to the house and arrested her a few days ago.

Writing this post is difficult, but in order to both heal and update, I’m doing it anyway, so if you’ve gotten to this point, know that here is where I take a deep breath and plunge forward. To do so, I may have to back up a little.

Youngest needed a car after a drunk driver wiped hers out while it was parked. You might remember that story. Husband, in an effort to both help provide the car and establish her credit, put Youngest’s car (and the loan to pay for it) in both their names. She loaned her car to The Boy while she was at work. Boy had hit another car and left the scene. He picked Youngest up at work like nothing had happened and she took him to drop him off wherever he’d been staying, which wasn’t here like she’d spent the last few weeks insisting.

That ongoing battle was the subject of my last post. When I wrote it, I didn’t have a clue how prophetic it would prove to be.

After she dropped off The Boy, she came home. I was surprised to see her here, especially so early in the evening. I was even more surprised to see that the police were right behind her.

The ensuing confusion in the driveway had the police about to arrest Husband. They had a picture of the car and license plate of the hit and run vehicle, and they knew a man had been driving. The assumption was logical that it was Husband, except that it wasn’t. It took a few more minutes to get it out of Youngest what had happened. She didn’t want to get The Boy in trouble. The handcuffs and an arrest for Obstruction of Justice is what started to convince her to cooperate. Being put in the back of the police car and hauled off to jail finished her conviction.

Her car was searched for drugs. Thankfully there was nothing to find, but I’ll admit I expected the outcome to be far different.

The events in the driveway that day play in my head like snapshots in a flip book, stuttering repeatedly from start to finish. Those images will never leave me. Seeing one of your children being arrested and placed in handcuffs will do something to a mother that before now I never thought I would have occasion to understand. It was almost a week ago, and sitting on the porch now, looking out at an empty driveway, gives me flashbacks of the ordeal that day.

Hearing Youngest talk about it yesterday made my chest hurt.

I stayed put while the cops arrested her. It was the hardest, single-most heartbreaking thing I’d ever forced myself to do. It was for the best. I wanted to run to her, to firmly place myself between her and them, and to protect her. She had to go through this alone and finally face the fact that she was not in a good place, that this is what happens when you surround yourself with trash. She alone had to realize for herself that she wouldn’t be in this position if not for The Boy.

So I stayed put.

She called me a couple of hours later and said that she was being released and that we could come to the police station to pick her up. She texted me a few times while husband drove, and I sat in the passenger seat alternately fighting back tears of hurt and tears of anger. I wasn’t very successful with either.

Her first text said that I was right, and that Boy was just dragging her down. Her second text said that she was done, this was it, and it was finally over. When we got there, all I could do was hold her while we stood in the parking lot of the police station. Tears of gratitude that she was unharmed replaced the tears of hurt and worry on my face. In the car, the anger took up residence and pushed everything else aside.

I learned later that The Boy had also been arrested and that Youngest’s cooperation leading to that arrest had earned her a lesser charge.

She talked to me that day, and confessed recent sins. She admitted to some of the things she knew about The Boy and his activities. She explained some of the gaps in her whereabouts and apologized for how she’d been acting lately. She said that for quite some time she’d had the feeling that something horrible was about to happen, and she thinks that this event, and her arrest, had halted whatever the bad thing was. She explained that when she saw The Boy being arrested and put into another police car, a tremendous weight had lifted, that it had just completely dissipated. She didn’t even realize she’d been carrying it.

She believes that there was a supernatural intervention, and that it took this incident to prevent whatever the other, more disastrous event, might have been.

And she hugged me. The look of hatred isn’t in her eyes anymore when she looks at me. And she’s talking to me again. She’s spent the last few days between home and work, and reconnecting with friends she’d given up for Boy. They didn’t approve, and expressing their feelings and concerns had earned them the same banishment as it had me.

She learned later that The Boy knew of her arrest, prior to his own, and instead of coming forward, he left her to handle it alone.

For her sake, I hope it’s really over between them. But she’s young. I worry that someday The Boy will enter her life again, drag her down even further, and that it might be far too late for redemption by the time she realizes just how far she’s fallen. My only hope here is that the next time he reappears, she’s a little wiser about the effects of being involved with him, and that saying ‘no’ to him becomes a little easier to do.

I guess the photo album isn’t complete yet. As much as she might believe that it’s over, and as much as I want to share that belief, this is not the end of the story. There are two ways she could go here, and all I can do is hope for the best. I’m not sure I’m equipped to handle it if her chosen direction is backward. It took all my strength to refrain from interfering with the police that day.

When I pull out this mental photo album in the years to come, only then will I know whether or not she had moved forward and really put this behind her.

Her court date for the lesser charge that was levied against her is in another four weeks.

Sometimes we’re given advance notice of a picture in our head that we know, without doubt, we’ll never be able to forget.





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Remember that upswing I was telling you about?  The one where my good fortune generally runs through the middle of everything and I have curves that sway away from the middle from time to time? Remember when I told you that something wonderful was about to happen because of my current sway to the left a little?

I’m still waiting.

Oh, it’ll happen.  I just think it’s going to be big.  With the way things have been running lately, it just has to be in order to balance things out.

You remember some of the dental issues that had me on a near liquid diet for seven days?  Well, one tooth finally got fixed.  I had put off the repair because I didn’t want to mess up an interview at work.  The rest of that story is that the person who should have gotten the promotion at work did get it, which is absolutely wonderful and I’m so incredibly happy that it fell the way that it did.  The interview itself has already opened some opportunities that I’ll be anxious to explore once a few more things finally fall into place.  And I know that they will.

But that’s another story.

The other tooth that was giving me trouble got pulled a couple of days ago.  It was one of those jaw teeth that grow roots to China.  In the process of its extraction, I felt some tugging on my right ear.  I know that sucker had roots that had wrapped around my ear, twice, and then had attached itself to the nape of my neck.  I think it might have been the first time ever that a dentist pulled a tooth and had to cut an umbilical cord.

Today is day three since the extraction, and while I’m healing nicely, I am a little sore.  My jaw bone feels bruised and there is still some slight swelling.  The good news is that I’m not in any kind of pain.

If you’re counting, that’s one broken tooth, one week of solely near-liquid and simultaneously flavorless intake, (I keep saying that because I love to eat.  I was deprived.  It’s a big deal.  I may repeat it at some point.) one semi-painful tooth repair, followed a week later by one very painful, and still ongoing, recovery from a tooth extraction.

Then Youngest and I got into a pretty heated argument yesterday morning.  Rather than talk to me she packed her stuff and moved out.  I was devastated.  I had only just recently gotten over Oldest’s last departure.  Of course, when Oldest moved out the last time, she took the two grandchildren with her.  I lost not one, but three loves.

It happened four times with Oldest.  The first time she left was also in anger and frustration, much like her sister’s departure yesterday.  Oldest felt like I had too much control in her life and she wanted to live it on her own.  I thought she still needed some guidance and I was, I suppose, too determined to offer it.  She was eighteen.  The second was a planned departure at nineteen.  The third was a little later, at twenty-one, only mildly hostile, and she took a grandbaby with her.  The fourth, while planned, took two grandbabies.  She’s all grown up now, with a life of her own, and I’m glad she chooses to share some of it with me.  She’s doing well, and I’m incredibly proud of the woman she’s become.  And she knows that wherever I am, she has a place to come home to.

Husband reminded me that this current set of events with Youngest is normal, and that it was bound to happen soon anyway.  I know this.  She’ll be nineteen this summer.  I knew she had been apartment hunting and was trying to get things in order so that she could move out.  I thought that was the natural way of things and it didn’t bother me much to think about it.  Between her work and her social life, I rarely saw her anyway.  And when she was home, she did all those things that annoy moms of adult children everywhere.

The leaving in anger part bothered me a great deal.  The fight was about responsibility, hers, and my insistence that she show some.  It was probably too soon.  I’ve spent all this time, probably the last four years, focusing solely on keeping her in school, and I forgot to prepare for what happened after graduation, which was barely a month ago.  Now I wish she was here to make all those messes and annoy me in all those thoughtless ways that always had me rolling my eyes and gritting my teeth in frustration.

You could remind me that it’s been barely twenty-four hours since she left, but I wouldn’t listen.  I’m like that sometimes.

I tried to talk to her this morning by phone and the end result was that she hung up on me.  She’s staying at a friend’s and I know that she’s safe, so I am comforted with the knowledge that she’s not out on the street, homeless, and desperate.  And I’ve told her that she can come home anytime she wants to, or needs to.

In the meantime, between bouts of depression and crying jags that leave me wishing I’d been a better mom to them both, I’m still waiting on the sway of something wonderful that is surely bound to happen.

It has to.

Because that’s the way life is.



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I think we all have some form of a closet regimen.  Some of us wear something once, hang it up, and then wear it again at a later date.  Some of us will wear a pair of pants twice or three times, but forsake the very idea of wearing a shirt more than once.  For others of us it’s the other way around.  Some of us are fanatics about never wearing anything a second time.

Some of us have hanger rituals, turning the hook one way to remind us that this particular item needs washed, or turning it the other way to signify that we haven’t worn that in such a long time we really must decide if we want to keep it.

We all know someone who never hangs up anything, choosing instead to live out of the basket where the laundry got done and then dumped.  For some that’s every week, for others it’s every two.  I think the younger you are the less often you do laundry at all, either waiting for a parent to do it for you or waiting until you absolutely have nothing at all to wear before making a mad dash to do just that one shirt you want to wear right now.

Some of the younger folks will do a whole load of laundry and then dump it on the couch to be dealt with ‘later’.  I put ‘later’ in quotes because that word doesn’t seem to exist.  I happen to have one of those ‘later’ couches.  It’s been in my home for about twelve years now.





Some of us have a rule of thumb that if we haven’t worn it in a year, we dispose of it in some fashion – either donate it, trash it, or ask a friend if she wants it.

I think laundry takes a little planning.  And of course the older I get the more concerned I am about making sure it’s done frequently.  My mad-dash-to-the washer-for-a-particular-shirt days are long behind me.

I do have my own hanger ritual in the closet, but it’s not elaborate.  If the hook is backward from everything else, I know it’s due to be laundered.  But mostly I’m just picky about the hanger.

I noticed yesterday while I was doing laundry that I kept passing up the smaller hangers in favor of the larger ones.  And I wanted the thick plastic ones instead of the metal ones.  Of course, sometimes, a different hanger altogether is necessary for that one skirt or blouse that just doesn’t hang right on anything else.

I’ve only ever had a hanger rescue me once.  It was that night my youngest daughter had called to say she had locked her keys in the car.  It was late at night and she was at a 7-11.  No gas station at eleven o’clock at night is the safest place for a young girl to be.

In my hurry to get to her I still managed to think to grab one of those seldom-used metal hangers from the closet before I ran out of the house.  I wasn’t sure I knew what to do with it, but somebody might.

When I got there, Youngest was standing outside talking to a couple of friends who had just happened by and were waiting with her until my arrival.  She opened my passenger door, saw the hanger immediately, and yelled to her friend, “She brought a hanger!”

Apparently they’d been discussing the topic at length, wishing they’d had one just like it.

After some teeth-gritting maneuvering, they finally got the car unlocked.  The hanger was destroyed, but it was okay.

I never liked that one anyway.



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Mirror, Mirror…and Mirror

That old car of mine has gotten me through about nine years of business trips, and it’s suffered nine years of heavy abuse because of them.  It’s been as far west as Chicago and as far east as Ocean City.  It’s been various places in between, almost just as far, and often.

I got it right after my oldest got her license, which was right before I got married.  I watched my youngest grow up in it.

I’ve taken pretty good care of it but after a while things started to need some serious attention.

The plan all along was that by the time my youngest got her license, I would get a new car and she would buy the old one from me.  Her joke with each repair was that by the time she got it, it would have all new parts.

Most of the car’s replaced parts will still be good long after the car finally gives up the ghost.  Some things just don’t need to be replaced more than once.  Although the windshield has been replaced twice.

And then there are the side mirrors.  We keep having to replace those.

The first time, I had loaned the car to my daughter and her friend to go to a movie.  She didn’t have her license yet so the friend drove.  Afterward, they were slightly sideswiped by a guy in the wrong lane in a blind curve.  The girls were fine, although terrified from the experience.  The other driver just kept going and didn’t stop to assess the damage.

The car was fine, too, except that the driver’s side mirror had followed the other guy home.

I took it to a local garage and had the side mirror replaced.  A few weeks later, the passenger side mirror was lost when a young deer on an early morning foray couldn’t decide if he wanted to stay in the road or go.  His back and forth was one too many, and his indecision cost me the other mirror.  I was the one driving it that time.

The folks at the local garage wondered what was really happening. Maybe they just thought I couldn’t drive and that’s what had kept them laughing in the garage the whole time I was there.

The second of these events happened some months ago.  My daughter has since gotten her license and I have since gotten a new vehicle.  She now routinely drives the old one to school and to work.

A couple of nights ago she called me to say that while she hadn’t gotten into an accident with anyone, she did get too close to the walls of the very narrow underpass on her way home.

The passenger’s side mirror is still dangling on that side of the car, barely hanging on.


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