I had my girl-child when I was fairly young (22-years old and barely out of college). I won't lie. Those first few years were HARD. Working, scrimping, saving and struggling to make ends meet was our reality for a long time. I was lucky because Jasmine's dad (aka Hubs) and I choose to stay together to raise her and we both had college degrees to back us up as we struggled up the job ladder.
But even so, it was a difficult, humbling and sometime humiliating experience (I'll regale you with tales of my forays in the world of welfare and social services some other time). A lot of things were put on hold (i.e grad school), and I missed out on many experiences that other 20-somethings were having. Would I change it if I could? Hell no. Girl-Child is the best surprise I ever got, and having a teenager in the house now does have some perks.
She's fun to watch TV with. We can watch real shows together (i.e. NCIS, House, Secret Life of an American Teenager, or Sponge Bob) and laugh at the same jokes, discuss the deeper issues, or argue about the plot.
She can do REAL stuff to make my life easier. Her own laundry, taking care of her little brother, getting dinner started for me, and (as this summer will prove) getting a job and ending the annoying habit of mooching off me so much.
She's a good outfit gauge and will not allow me walk out of the house looking like a mismatched clown, a hobo, or this ...
One of the most interesting things about having a teenager at this age is that we tend to listen to the same music. It may not seem like a big deal, but when I hear Lil Wayne seeping out of her earbuds hollering about how he's planning to "beat it like a cop", I know what he's talking about.
And this is not to say that I enjoy Lil Wayne -- you're not going to hear him floating out of my mp3 player anytime soon-- but with lyrics like that being the norm these days, it's kinda important for parents to be aware of what their kids are listening to and to talk about it. Discussing the lyrics of current music is also a great way to sidle into a mama/girl-child chat about body image, sexuality, and other issues. I touched on this a few weeks ago in my interview with Dr. Rayne
"… music is a great conversation starter. A lot of people just gloss over lyrics, but music is a place that is just rife with fodder for good conversation: “What do you think of this song we’re listening to?” “Wait, I didn’t catch that, what was that last line?” “Is that OK?”
Talk about the song and what they like about it. If they do like it that’s fine, but at least now they’re being thoughtful about it." --Dr. Karen Rayne, Reign of the Girl-Child.
So I tune into hip hop, reggaeton and pop music as much as possible to stay in the loop and prevent myself from getting caught out in the open completely clueless like these parents at a recent Britney Spears concert…
"In a survey of four different sets of parents escorting their preteen girls to the show, none knew about the R-rated message suggested by the title of Spears's latest single, "If U Seek Amy."-- Washington Post
That same article revealed that although most kids did NOT consider Britney a mentor they did say that she was "awesome", "rockin'" and "hot". Or they said it as best they could through chattering teeth; which is what happens when you wear a belt-length mini-skirt and halter top in 40 degree weather. Hmmm…