Expect the unexpected when dealing with teens


I'm writing this column on the first day of June, and as I glance down at this month's calendar, I don't see many empty spaces. Not that I'm complaining. It's just an observation. Looks like we'll be living out of our van for the next several weeks.

Between practices, games, lessons, recitals, camps, trips to see doctors, dentists and the orthodontist, summer promises to be quite busy.

Not that we're alone on this one. Most families with teens and preteens are constantly in motion. These years are so busy. It's easy to get lost in activity.

But now that school is almost out for summer, this is a good time to stop and reflect over the last year and look ahead to next year.

Parents' lives are driven by the school calendar, not the calendar year. What better time to make resolutions than now when a school year is behind us and we have a summer to regroup?


If the year could be summed up in a phrase, how would you state it?

"A Step of Independence" could capture my son's year, for many reasons, some of which I'm still trying to figure out. He's making some decisions without consulting me. It was unsettling at first, but I'm starting to get used to it.

My daughter's year could be summed up as "The Year of Hair Product Discoveries." Are there any products out there that she hasn't tried? I doubt it.

The other day she asked me to pick up a specific brand of Iron Guard while I was out shopping. I called her from the store to tell her the price.

"Honey, I'm not paying $14 for your hair spray," I said.

I expected her to say that she didn't realize it would be that much and that the store brand would be fine. That's what I use on my hair. Surely it would be good enough for her hair, too.

But that wasn't her reply.

"Oh. It's not hair spray, Mom. It's Iron Guard. It protects your hair from damage that can be caused by curling irons or straighteners. I've borrowed it from my friends. It's really good," she said.

That may be so, I assured her, but I still wasn't going to spend that much for something she was going to spray on her hair.

"I'll use my own money for it. I'll pay you back when you get home. Please, Mommy?"

I carefully placed the can in my cart and gently transported it home. The roast I bought was cheaper ...

Obviously, we need to spend some time on basic economics this summer.

When you're 11 going on 16, hair is where it's at -- which leads me to my next catch-phrase.

"Learning to Relate to Teens," would be a good way to describe my year. The more I'm around teenagers, the more I like being around them. I don't understand them, and I don't expect to do so.

The thing with teens is that they kind of grow on you. You start realizing it's best to expect the unexpected, and your day will go according to plan.

My husband's phrase would be, "The Year My Wife Learned to Say No."

OK. So I turned down one project this year. That's progress. Perhaps next year I'll become even bolder.

I may even turn down two.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at">

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