“Mom, are you a teenager?”


They’re a real mystery to Leila. Who’s to blame? Shaggy and his Mystery, Inc. van? The Archie comics she lugs around but can’t read yet, looking at the pictures and inventing her own stories?

We biked around Victoria park today, and ended up watching a bunch of thirteen-year-olds ride their dirt bikes up and down ramps at the skate park. When it was time to go, we were biking beside the treeline when a fourteen year old emerged from the bushes. She didn’t look, but as he walked past her she said, “Mom, I think he was breaking glass in the forest.”

I paused, recalling a conversation from a few days earlier that I had with her, struggling for the details.  I think it had something to do with vandalism, and punk teenagers.

Why would you ask that, Lei? I try to remember the glass breaking conversation but it’s vague. Leila has a memory like an elephant. She remembers the things her father and I say to her for weeks, even months, and never fails to connect it to new information.  She amazes me, especially since I would really have to think about what I had for breakfast yesterday if you asked me.

She has some funny ideas about teenagers, probably because her kooky old Mom gives the little sweethearts a carte blanche for the six, magical years they can call themselves “teens”. I’ve told her that the teenage years are a special time in a young person’s life,  a time when they take risks, try new things, and try to figure out who they are.

Somehow that message hasn’t exactly been conveyed. Here’s what she knows. Teengers are reckless. Teenagers cross the street wherever and whenever they want to, even if there’s cars coming. Teenagers sing, dance, and act silly – and they don’t care who’s watching. They don’t have a bedtime. They break glass. Teenagers aren’t adults, but they’re not kids either. Teenagers girls kiss boys on the lips. Teenagers don’t follow rules. They don’t take baths. Some of them may even know Hannah Montana.

Here’s to the lines of perception being skewed,  and to adults never being fully grown up.  First, kindergarten, next, the teenage years. This should be fun.

Mom on the beach in Thailand at twilight, hooping. No wonder she has questions.


  1. Lei isn’t just confused by you – but the whole lot of you! My friend’s two kids still can’t figure me, Aaron and Andrew out…..not too long ago their 3-year-old asked me if I was an adult? I told him I get back to him once I figured that out….but I was fighting it every step of the way! (he looked a little puzzled after that….) love you more than teenagers love angst!

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