Sweat, Braces, and Love

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Advice, Communication, Confidence, Connections, Conversations, Growing UP, Life Lessons, Sports, Teenager, Teenagers, Women | Posted on 15-11-2016

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The question was posed in email by the head soccer coach to all of the parents: Can any of you help out this season? I need an assistant coach to help run practices and be at the games.

I can. But I will not.

I mean, I have other things to do. Like work, like family, like my own exercise. Surely, another parent can volunteer.

Then I thought: I have coached my daughter and son’s soccer teams before. I play on a rec team as an adult. I know a thing or two about the game. I do love to be around kids. Maybe it won’t be too much of a time suck: practice twice a week, one game every Saturday. And whaddya know, my nearly-14-year-old daughter encouraged me to coach. (That was enough for me to say yes right there…um, my teenager wants me there?!)

I’m in!

I filled out the background check and took the concussion test and sudden cardiac arrest test. I showed up to the first practice a little begrudgingly. I mean, it was still hot August and I could have been kicking back at home with Otis in the shade. Plus. So many teenagers. It was a little daunting.

A few fathers showed up to volunteer and then disappeared after the first practice. Looks like they are stuck with me!

I was warmly welcomed and surrounded by 17 young women full of chatter, giggles, hormones, and braces–as it is with 13- and 14-year-olds–and I was instantly comfortable. I made the right choice.

Within 10 minutes, I knew everyone’s name.

Throughout the season, I gave feedback, high-fived, shouted encouragement, joked, gave pats on the back, talked 1:1 on the sidelines. Assistant coaching was so much more than helping the players improve their soccer skills. I was a supporter, a listener, an encourager, a guider, a trusted friend (and occasional chauffeur).

Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays. Those were soccer days! A chance to make connections, be a positive influence, and build confidence.

Navigating life can be tough for young teenagers struggling with self-confidence, peer pressure, school demands, family issues.

Sure there were foot skills and dribbling, conditioning, building a strong defense, and taking shots. But there was oh so much more. It was a supportive team that built each other up. The players as individuals truly cared for one another. We learned and grew.

That Fall soccer season, I received so much more than I gave. I know for a fact that I was surrounded by sweat and braces, and love. #winning

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Rock and Roller

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Childhood, Growing UP, Happiness, Life, Memories, Teenager | Posted on 29-09-2016

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The year was 1983.

It was a hot year for fashion. Hello, matching terry cloth outfit.

It was a hotter year for music. Here is what was on the radio. And on my newly gifted Sony Walkman:

Every Breath You Take, The Police
Billie Jean, Michael Jackson
Flashdance…What a Feeling, Irene Cara
Down Under, Men at Work
Beat It, Michael Jackson
Total Eclipse of the Heart, Bonnie Tyler
Maneater, Daryl Hall & John Oates
Sweat Dreams, Eurythmics
Do You Really Want to Hurt Me, Culture Club
Come on Eileen, Dexys Midnight Runners
She Works Hard for the Money, Donna Summer
Let’s Dance, David Bowie
Africa, Toto
Little Red Corvette and 1999, Prince
Stray Cat Strut, Stray Cats
Tell Her About It, Billy Joel
Goody Two-Shoes, Adam Ant
Rock the Casbah, The Clash
Come Dancing, The Kinks
Back on the Chain Gang, The Pretenders

For me, it was an even hotter year for roller skates. Those roller skates were my empowerment. I lived in a smallish town in California that was 1.7 square miles, rich in community and smack in the middle of the sprawling San Francisco Bay Area. I skated to buy doughnuts. Ten doughnut holes for a buck. I skated to 7-11 for Red Vines and Jolly Rancher sticks. I skated one mile to my bank where I maintained a modest savings account. I would sometimes deposit but mostly withdraw. Long before ATMs, I tucked my bank book in the waistband of my shorts, then walk on the tips of my stoppers to the teller and usually withdraw $10. I would fold the ten dollar bill into my skate where it would be nice and sweaty when it was time to spend it.

Ten bucks would last two weeks to feed my sugar obsession.

1983 was my freedom. Personal music. Transportation. Consumerism.

I remember those moments like they were yesterday. Skating over the bumps in the sidewalks. Wind in my big hair. The taste of a sour apple Jolly Rancher stick. And peach. And cinnamon fire.

Now, whenever I listen to one of these songs or savor a Red Vine, it takes me back to the days when I was free to skate from one end of town my world to the other, with only a pair of satin knee pads to protect me.

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If You Give a Girl a Knife

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Childrearing, Children's Books, Confidence, Cooking, Daughters, Encouragement, Food, Girls, Mothering, Mothers and Daughters, Teenager | Posted on 13-05-2016

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When my daughter was three, we gave her a mini kitchen with pots and pans and bins of plastic food. Pies! Peas! Corn! Sushi! Cupcakes! Fried Chicken!

She loved everything about food preparation and serving. She would “roast” a fake chicken, “bake” pies, and “chop” floppy carrots. For years, she would prep and serve us at her cafe. When she was older, she would write menus for us to order from. And she would expect payment.

Now at 13, her time spent in the kitchen has lessened and her cooking is infrequent. However, if you give that girl a knife, she’ll make a fruit plate in minutes. She chops vegetables like a Kitchen Knife Ninja.

On the sidelines at a recent soccer game, I was talking to some mothers about daughters and their lack of interest in cooking. I told my “knife story” about how my daughter is a pro with a knife.

One of the Moms looked at me like I was insane. You give her knives?? That’s scary!

Um. Pioneer women sliced open buffalo with knives.

It’s not like I handed my daughter a knife and ordered Chop Now! It began with safety skills. Duh. Don’t slice toward your hand. Watch those fingers.

Kitchen skills are about teaching confidence, self sufficiency, survival. Kitchen skills are life skills.

I mean, what would she do if she encountered pineapple?

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A Horse Penis and a Vegetable Garden

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Family, Humor, Memories, Mothering, Mothers and Sons, Projects, Questions, Summer, Teenager, Teenagers | Posted on 20-07-2015

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I get asked all kinds of questions around here.

It sure keeps things fun and surprising.

One of my sons asked me, “Would you rather get slapped in the face with a horse penis or jump in a swimming pool full of pee?”

Hmmmm…

Good question! But it didn’t really surprise me.

Then the other day, my other son asked me, “Do you want to plant a vegetable garden with me?”

How sweet is that?!

Now, this question totally surprised me. I mean, he’s a teenager and I’m sorta not cool.

How could I pass up this opportunity to spend quality time together? Planting a garden, no less. Nurturing and watching seeds grow–the perfect metaphor for life.

The answer is: I could not.

We immediately Googled what to plant in July. Lettuce, spinach, carrots, and radishes appeared to be fine crops for planting this late in the season. We were off to buy seeds. No time to spare!

Together, we tilled the soil, planted the seeds (some were the size of a pencil tip), tucked them in, and watered. We take turns watering and are looking forward to seeing the baby shoots peek out. We talk daily about “our” garden. Stay tuned for our bountiful harvest…in late November!

Oh and as for the other question? Slapped in the face by a horse penis.

I'm getting so wise in my old age. 😉

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Do-Si-Do

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Humor, School, Teenager | Posted on 10-11-2014

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“Mom, are these your square dancing shoes?” my nine-year-old asked when I was wearing my black, comfortable shoes.

Why yes. Yes they are.

And I proceeded to link my arm in his and we twirled across the kitchen floor.

I did not grow up churning butter. I did not make my dresses out of sacks of flour. I did not listen to square dancing music.

Wait. Yes I did.

And I learned some basic square dance steps. In high school.

What?

In P.E., we were taught how to Do-Si-Do, how to swing your partner to and fro, and how to do some good, old fashioned cardio. Some may have eye rolled and sighed. Some I enjoyed it. Maybe my partner was a super cute boy. Maybe.

I asked my teenaged son if he ever did square dancing in P.E.

He looked at me as if I were wearing a sack of flour.

"Mom, are these your square dancing shoes?" Yes!

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My Teen Has Taught Me a Thing or Two Hundred

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Advice, Boys, Confidence, Connections, Encouragement, Exercise, Life, Life Lessons, Love, Memories, Metaphor, Mothering, Mothers and Sons, Parenting, Teaching, Teenager, Teenagers | Posted on 17-04-2014

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My nearly-fifteen-year-old son is awesome. And an inspiration to me. Since starting high school, he has learned a lot. And he has taught me a lot:

  1. Push yourself.
  2. Take chances.
  3. Try new things.
  4. Don’t stress.
  5. Be responsible.
  6. Make time for fun.
  7. Prioritize your health.
  8. It’s OK to be quiet.

Case in point. Earlier this year, he and I set off on an adventure: A four-mile hike. Make time for fun. Try new things.

It was a cool winter day–no rain for once. I like to hike light. No fanny packs (embarrassing!) or backpack. Just a water bottle, gum, and my phone. The essentials. My son, on the other hand, hiked heavy. Literally. Laden with a backpack full of weights–50 lbs. of metal weight plates–because football season had ended and he’s always cross training. Prioritize your health.

We traveled upwards, through a forest, until we got to a cliff with spectacular views of the river below. We took in the scenery with awe. Quiet awe–no blabbering needed. I tend to be a blabber head and he tends to be quiet. It’s OK to be quiet.

We continued onward, at his urging. Our pace was fast. We met a fellow hiker who cautioned us to turn back at the halfway point because it would be getting dark at 4:30. We chuckled. Yeah right, no halfway point for us. We’re going the full hike. No turning around. Take chances.

It was an unknown journey. We saw forests, ferns, waterfalls, moss-covered boulders, cliffs, a river. Two hours passed.

“How are you holding up with that heavy backpack?” I worried.

“Mom. I’m fine.” Push yourself. 

Well whaddya know. It was approaching 4:30 and the sun was starting to set. We were the lone hikers without any idea how much longer until we were back at the parking lot. Are we there yet?

Not even close.

The trail headed downward, with switchbacks, to the river. Surely after 30 minutes of switchbacks we would be there. Dusk became dark. It was getting cold. My map app on my phone didn’t work. Yeah, duh. No Internet in the middle of nowhere.

My thought was lions wolves and tigers cougars and bears. We had been hiking for nearly four hours. Up, down, side to side. My son led our journey, with the backpack increasing in weight as our my muscles tired.

Pitch black. No compass. No snacks. No coats. Why was his backpack filled with weights and not bananas and trail mix? Panic washed over me. What. If.

Don’t stress.

Then. Finally, we came to a road. Surely it was the road to the parking lot. No, not for another mile.

We hiked 10 miles that day. And oh, the relief when we spotted our car. Where we blasted the heat and turned on Bob Marley for the drive home.

“Next time, Mom, let’s bring a map.” Ah yes. Be responsible.

What a workout. What a relief. What an adventure. I will forever remember that day–and evening and night–with my son.

Awesome!

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Magical.

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Metaphor.

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Hike with my son!

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I Am a Halloween Misfit

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Halloween, Holidays, Teenager | Posted on 30-10-2013

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There is a time and place to dress up as a Playboy bunny for Halloween. Halloween is the right time. But church is not the right place.

See, it was because I was a teenager and didn’t know much. My friend and I went to a Halloween party at my neighbor’s church. It was a friendly church with a fun congregation that set up a haunted house throughout the church halls. A “ghoul” even played creepy music on the organ.

Black leotards, black fishnet stockings, bunny ears, and a cotton tail. And that’s about it. My friend and I screamed sexy.

Clearly, we were underdressed.

I should have worn that costume another time. Like when I got invited to a cool Halloween party at a senior’s house in high school. And I was only a sophomore.

Amid a sea of sexy costumes–Wonder Woman, sexy witch, sexy police officer, sexy Minnie Mouse–I came dressed as an old lady.

That’s right. I wore a grey-haired wig, with knee-high panty hose falling down, a frumpy print polyester dress, and wrinkles drawn on my face. Ooops, wrong place for an old lady costume.

Clearly, I was overdressed.

Dang. I never seem to get Halloween quite right. Read here for yet another failed time-and-place Halloween costume.

Dressed sexy or not so much, Happy Halloween to all of you Halloween misfits!

misfit

Proud on the Sidelines

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Attitude, Mothering, Mothers and Sons, Parenting, Sports, Teenager, Teenagers | Posted on 25-09-2013

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My son’s high school team lost their last football game.

The team walked off the field in a line, heading towards the locker room. Their heads hung low. Their bodies showing defeat. They were the quietest I’ve even seen them.

Then I spotted my son, who looked at me and gave me the biggest grin. He veered away from the line of defeat and exclaimed, “Hey Mom! Good to see you!” And then proceeded to give me the biggest hug. Yep. Right in front of everyone. And get this. He added, “Thanks for coming to my game. Even though we lost, I did my best.”

“Good to see you too! I’m so proud of you!”

(Don’t get me wrong. I love winning.)

But that young man–with that grin and that hug and that positive attitude–he was a winner. I was proud on the sidelines, prouder-than-a good-win-proud.

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How Many Spiders Does it Take?

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Celebrations, Childhood, Childrearing, Children, Life, Memories, Mothering, Mothers and Sons, Nostalgia, Recipes, Relationships, Teenager, Teenagers | Posted on 02-05-2013

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How many plastic spider rings does it take to raise a child from toddler to teenager? In our case, 500.

I invested in a whopping bag of plastic spider rings, when my oldest son was about three. Five hundred of them. “These will come in handy to top cupcakes, to add to goody bags, and to play jokes on people,” I had thought. Whoa! So many fun times ahead!

Well. My oldest son just turned 14 years old this week. When it was time to decorate his cake, I rummaged through the bin where I keep cupcake papers, food coloring, sprinkles, birthday candles, and plastic spider rings.

There was only one spider ring left. What?!

We had finally exhausted our supply. I had baked an abundance of cupcakes over the years to deliver to school functions, added the rings to birthday goody bags, and distributed them at Halloween.

The rings marked milestones in my son’s life. They took him from toddler to teen. And now, the spiders are gone.

But the other day, as my son stood there in the kitchen–standing 6 ft. 1 in. tall–he tasted his mud pie birthday cake and giddily shrieked, “This is your best cake yet, Mom!”

His enthusiasm and kindness are reminders that despite age (and height), he is still the same on the inside.

spider rings

Parents Don’t Understand?

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Aging, Memories, Parenting, Song, Teenager | Posted on 27-12-2012

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It seems like yesterday that I was listening to DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s Parents Just Don’t Understand.

I just googled the song to reminisce. Dude! That song was released in 1988 when I was a teenager and could relate.

Fast-forward 25 years.

Now I can relate to the parents in The Parent Rap. Yikes.

Funny how two and a half decades can transform a gal.