15 again

This girl, my oldest child, turned fifteen a few days ago.


The ultra weird thing is that I remember being fifteen. I remember it quite well.

My fifteenth year was the one when my relationship with my mother reached an all-out toxic point and we mutually agreed that it would be better for me to live elsewhere. So we called up some distantish relatives in upstate New York and convinced them, somehow, to let me come and live with them.

There was a cousin–Kate–my own age. I liked her but it was as if she’d grown up in another century, but not in a cute way. Their family was very intellectual. They had no TV (I was used to a steady diet of MTV and cheesy sitcoms) and only had a record player. No tapes, no CDs. Mostly they sat around and read and listened to the radio (you know your life is old-school when A Prairie Home Companion is the highlight of your week.) But I grew up in a bookish, classical-music-listening family so it wasn’t as tragic as I thought it would be.

I did convince Kate that she needed to modernize her look. I volunteered to cut her hair (hey, how hard could it be?), which ended up being so short that I had to shave her neck. And then I decided that she should lighten it up a bit. Back in the 80’s that meant one thing: peroxide. So after a few treatments she had a brassy, blondish, too-short hairdo. She liked it, but I’m sure Uncle Hugh and Aunt Joyce were horrified. They were much too polite to say anything, though.

Fifteen was the year that I decided that I really wanted a boyfriend. But the boys didn’t quite understand that fact. Turns out that teenage boys are generally terrified of girls. Especially girls who are smart and self-assured and have a merciless sense of humor. (Hoo boy, did I have a smart mouth on me too. I got in trouble for sassing just about everyone back then.) Instead all the guys flirted and made out with my friends, leaving me to cry into my pillow after every party and dance.

Fifteen-year-old me was sort of a mess.

But I made some great friends when I was fifteen. Some I’m still close to (Hi Kim! Was I really as big of a spaz as I remember?)

My daughter seems to have her head screwed on straight. If she’s crying in her pillow over boys, I am unaware. She gets good grades (I couldn’t have cared less) and tries hard to do what’s right (I stole 15 gallons of ice cream one night from a shop that rhymes with Len & Perry’s. I would have stolen more but I was with friends and we were laughing too hard. I’m pretty sure I wet my pants at some point.)

My mother used to threaten me as a teenager that one day I would have a daughter as horrible as me; that it would serve me right! Well, Mom, all I can say is, “Ha ha. I got a good one. Your curses didn’t work after all!”*

*I am fully aware that with six kids I’ll get it with one of them. My odds are not good.

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14 thoughts on “15 again

  1. Happy Birthday India!

    She is a gorgeous girl – much like her mama. Let's hope your looks is all she inherits! (I kid. I kid.)

    (How the heck do you steal that much ice cream? And where do you store it?!)

  2. She is beautiful. When I was 15, I was heinous. Just awkward and had that weird haircut you are talking about.

    Wait for 17. My mom had 6 girls and she HATED 17. All of us were terrible at 17. Bad grades, sneaking out, a few of us had to go to juvenile court, credit card fraud, kissing lots of boys. So maybe 17 will be your dreaded age. I hope not. That pretty girl is just too pretty to get into trouble.

  3. Ha ha, nice. I can't believe she's fifteen! Wish her happies for me.

    I didn't know you lived in NY or had crazies with your mom. You definitely need to write a book.

  4. My bishop recently talked about how the meaning of "honor your father and your mother" is to take the best that each of them have to offer and leave the rest. I thought that was an interesting view. He said that every generation should be better than the previous if we follow this pattern. Looks like that's what you've got. Awesome. Happy birthday to your daughter.

  5. Wow! That's the picture I want for my updated picture wall! She's gorgeous. And she is so very GOOD!

    I am reassured that somewhere along the way you liked boys AND THEY DIDN'T LIKE YOU! It was all that kept you safe until Jeffrey. His mission was all that kept you safe until you met Mister.

    And I would also like you to tell all about the 15 gallons of ice cream. Do I have to ask Kim?

  6. As usual, Mom, I have no idea where you come up with the strange things you think.

    And it was Kendra I stole the ice cream with, not Kim.

  7. Jennie, She looks so much like you. She has such an "i'm a nice person" look about her. I loved your sassy ways…i have such great memories of your priceless sarcasm 🙂

  8. >"Hi Kim! Was I really as big of a spaz as I remember?"

    Yes, you were. Do I have to quote you to you? "Everyone take off your bra!!!" Granted, you were only joking, but the poor young women's leaders just about had a heart attack. I thought it was hysterical which means I was just as much a spaz as you were 🙂

    Sadly, I missed the 15-gallon ice cream night. But, I do remember running around town stealing signs. The funniest part is that we were good girls (generally speaking)…you know, no sex, drugs, and only a little rock-n-roll. Actually, it wasn't rock-n-roll, it was New Wave.

    Long Live the 80's!

  9. Ah, yes. Fifteen. What a good year. I wasn't in nearly as much trouble then as you were. I did sneak out to go to homecoming. But that's it.

    Happy Bday, India! I have so many fond memories ofyou as a two year old. I simply cannot believe you grew up already.

  10. I was the opposite. A total dweeb, straight arrow teenager. So now I am terrified of getting a teenager like my husband. His mother's curse of "one just like you" will fall on poor, innocent me.

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