Archive of ‘Teen Life’ category

Judging A Book By Its Library

library shelvesI still remember standing on my tiptoes to reach the higher drawers of the card catalog in the library. If there was no step stool nearby, I’d walk over to the front desk and ask the librarian for help. She would help me look up what I needed and then take me to the right spot in the library to find my book. While there, I was free to search the stacks to my heart’s content for other books on the same topic or by the same author or discover something completely different that might interest me. Those were the good ol’ days.

When I was a college student, things were a little more high-tech. I sat in front of a computer monitor and typed in the subject, author or title of the book. No step stool necessary. Within seconds, the computer would cough up the names of all the books with similar titles and authors. I’d print out the list on the dot-matrix printer on the other side of the library and then walk up the stairs to peruse the shelves for my book.

Today–25 years later–I learned about the latest in library technology on a college tour. Students walk up to a kiosk, type in the book they want, and WAIT FOR IT…a robotic arm will find the book and deliver it to a central location where a staff member will place it on a pickup shelf for convenience.


Yes, you read that right…a robotic arm. The official name for this is BookBot–a book retrieval and delivery system which apparently saves on shelf space and opens up the opportunity for more classrooms and meeting spaces on campus. Or maybe just another Starbucks.

The tour guide likened this state-of-the-art system to ordering a hoagie at a Wawa. Just walk up to the counter and make your selection from countless options on the screen and hit enter. Within minutes, someone makes your hoagie, wraps it up and delivers it right to you. But in this scenario, the hoagie is a book and the person who is waiting on you is replaced with a robotic arm.

As a self-proclaimed book nerd and now library geek, I find this whole thing rather depressing. This truly takes all the fun out of discovering other literary treasures in the library. And honestly, where does it end? Will an army of robots soon be deployed around campus hunting students down for their overdue library books? Will a robot stay at her doorway and hold her hostage until she uses her iPay app to pay the fine?

Of course, when I asked her if she thought this was creepy or cool, she thought it was awesome.

I, on the other hand, miss the card catalog.

Handing Over the Keys

Teaching my daughter to drive is not how I thought it would be. Initially, I was so excited that she reached this milestone. I’ve always been a strong proponent of her gaining new life skills like cooking a meal or taking more responsibilities around the house. And I thought I would be the best parent to show her the ropes, but ever since she received her permit I’ve learned otherwise.

My husband is a much better teacher than I am. He has taken her on the turnpike, the highway and in the city. He has her driving in the rain and at night. He hands over the keys with much less trepidation than I do.

For me, it has absolutely nothing to do with her and everything to do with me and my ever persistent anxiety. She is an excellent and careful driver. I know this. Even the driving instructor that we hired from the local professional driving school said she is a natural. This briefly reassured me but then I decided, he didn’t give birth to her. So his opinion, while valued, is irrelevant.

My head tells me she knows the mechanics of driving a car and the rules of the road, but my heart keeps attacking me with a terrible case of the what ifs. What if a deer comes out of nowhere or a child chases a ball into the street? She doesn’t have the experience yet to expect the unexpected.

And then my anxiety goes into overdrive. Like it did the other night.

“What do you mean I can’t drive?” she said. It was a perfect fall evening and we had a short and very familiar distance to go.I had no good reason except that local weatherman Bill Henley said it might rain. Apparently, I put a lot of trust in Bill.

Exasperated (and rightfully so), she took her place in the passenger seat, slammed the car door, scrunched into a tight ball, iPhone firmly in hand and that incredulous teenager look on her face.

“I just want to drive somewhere and not have to worry about you getting us there.” I told her. Which by the way is the wrong thing to say when you are trying to raise a confident driver.

“This is ridiculous. You know I need 20 more hours before I can take my test. How am I going to get them, huh?”

I stayed silent letting the latest Taylor Swift song coming from the radio fill the void.

“Are you even listening to me?” she asked not willing to be ignored.

“Do I have a choice?” I sighed.

At this point, I briefly considered pulling over and switching places, but I couldn’t let her drive mad. Could I? No. My father always said never drive angry.

Meanwhile, she was furiously texting what I can only imagine to be something like “My mom is being a total bitch. It’s so unfair.”

In a quieter and slightly calmer voice she asked, “Will you let me drive home?”

“In the dark?!” I replied instinctively, not really meaning to say that out loud.

Clearly, that was the wrong response.

A New Gym Perk

As my kids get older, they are busier. They have lots of homework and now social lives. Football games and outings to Friendly’s have replaced birthday parties. Soccer games, swim practices, and scouts meetings are filling up the calendar. I feel time slipping by and I’m constantly looking for things for us to do together and keep the lines of communication open.

Most of the time, these bonding moments are brief and will likely take place in the car when I’m schlepping them to activities. My favorite part of every day is when we share our “roses” and “thorns” of the day. I even get a turn to share with them what I liked and what didn’t go so well. These brief conversations with the kids tell me so much about their lives that I don’t even care if that moment is spent on the road.

Recently, a new opportunity has come up for Jenna and I to spend time together although it is not in one of my favorite places -like a coffee shop or the mall. She has been begging me to take her to the gym where we can work out together. I bought her a membership last year when joined the school track team. She wants to do it again and get herself in tip top shape.

And although I welcome another opportunity for us to connect, I have to say our gym habits are not entirely in sync (yet). Hopefully, this is something we are both willing to work on.

For instance:

She likes to run a mile (or two) on the treadmill, AND THEN select the elliptical or the bicycle before she goes downstairs to lift weights.
I am used to doing my 30 minutes of cardio and I’m out the door.

I am a morning person and I like to get my workouts over with as early as possible.
She is a night person who refuses to get out of bed on weekends until absolutely necessary.

She loves to work out.
I don’t.

She has tons of energy.
I don’t (especially at night).

She is motivated.
I’m semi-motivated.

Last night, we talked about her science class and the upcoming homecoming dance. I talked about some things I’ve been doing lately at work. And then, I started getting tired. I sat my butt down on a bench, checked my Facebook page and waited while she worked out on the lat pull down machine.

I could not have made it more obvious that I was officially done with the workout portion of the evening. :)

It was then that I received the wake-up call I needed as to why going to the gym is important to both of us. For me, it isn’t logging in the hour of physical activity….although I know it is very important to do so. It was when Jenna stood up from her machine, looked at me and said the following:

“Mom, I know you are tired, but can you just come over and talk to me for a while until I’m done lifting weights?”

Of course, I can do that. I want to do that! It is what I’m here for –to talk to you, to hear your stories, to be a part of your life.

So, I’ll work on being a night person and try to enjoy the physical benefits of our workouts. I’ll get motivated. I’ll even learn how to work those crazy machines that intimidate me because I want to connect with my daughter. And that is the biggest benefit of all.

A Picture Perfect Contract

gckidsMy dearest children,

I am responding to your recent request to cease taking photos of you and posting them on my Facebook page. I have reviewed your arguments thoroughly and taken into account your well-documented complaints regarding the protection of your image and concern over potential parental embarrassment. I am ready to give my ruling on this matter.

As your parent, who is incredibly proud of your inner beauty, outstanding accomplishments and adorable faces, I often feel a strong and innate desire to share your lives with friends and family. While this urge comes on a daily basis, I will do my best not to take photos that may (or may not) be later posted and captioned as “your daily cuteness.”

Let me assure you that I would never intentionally do anything to jeopardize your reputation as the amazing people you are slowly becoming before my very eyes. However, at this time I feel some ground rules should be established when future opportunities of a photographic nature arise. And please do not let the fact that I spent 18 hours of my life in a long and drawn out labor with no epidural with said daughter as well as 6 hours of an incredibly difficult labor (again with no epidural!) with said son…influence you in any way.

Please find my terms below:

  1. Special occasion photos–also known to my generation as “Kodak moments”–will be taken on a regular basis. These include, but are not limited to, the first day of school, the last day of school, all holidays, bar/bat mitzvah, proms, family celebrations and vacations, graduations, etc. You will pose for these photos as directed as long as you live under my roof–and then we can renegotiate.
  2. Purpose- The purpose of these photos are to document your lives in a way that is enjoyable, respectful and representative of your childhood and teenage years. Some photos may be shown to future spouses and grandchildren. The viewing of bar and bat mitzvah videos will not be shown to potential boyfriends and spouses without your permission…but that is a story for another time.
  3. Approval process–I will show you all photos before posting them. Retakes may be required in order to arrive at a mutually-agreed upon picture.
  4. My Promise – I solemnly swear NEVER to take or post a photo or video of you coming out of anesthesia after getting your wisdom teeth pulled. Nor will I take or post photos of you when you are angry or upset in any way, shape or form. You have my word that I will never put you through that kind of torture.

Your compliance of the above guidelines and future cooperation during these photo sessions are greatly appreciated.

With much love,



Deal or No Deal

9th grade JennaOn the first day of school, Jenna came downstairs dressed in an adorable maroon top and jean shorts with her Converse sneakers. It was the perfect outfit for the first day of high school. The next day, she wore another pair of jean shorts and a gray top with a tasteful cut out in the back. I remember thinking about when I was her age and wished I had her great sense of style back then.

The third day, she sat at the breakfast table in a 5K t-shirt and gym shorts. I looked at her and playfully asked, “Do I need to do laundry already?”

Big mistake. Huge!

She rolled her eyes and told me no one else was getting dressed up and she was tired of it already. It was no big deal.

This is her new favorite phrase to say when she thinks I’m overreacting to something. No big deal. She feels I make a big deal about everything when many times I’m just asking a
question– or in this case–trying to be funny.

So, I’ve taken her constructive criticism of my parenting style under advisement and created the Big Deal List. It is a work in progress, but this is what I have so far.

Big Deal

No Big Deal

Her health, happiness & well being Cooking her separate vegetarian meals on a regular basis
Household chores Spilling most of the Starbucks latte I went out of my way to buy for her
Grades Her wardrobe (as long as it is appropriate)
Family time Respecting her need for space after too much family time (ie: family vacations)
Friends Constant requests for money and driving her everywhere
Boys (not there yet, but I see it coming) Minor squabbles with her brother (I know she still loves him)
Kindness & respect to others Occasional teenage eye-rolling


I will try to keep this list in mind and add to it as I pick my battles and navigate our relationship into the next phase. I can’t promise anything, but I will try.

So help me out! What am I forgetting? What is on your list?