Parenting teens has its inherent challenges and risks - we walk a fine line between heartwarming times of bonding and unexpected moments of ego damage. Late last night the kids and I were chatting in the kitchen. I had just finished the end-of-day countertop wipe down when we started talking and was slightly disturbed when the kids both sat on the island (on the island, not on the stools available around the island) in the same clothes they'd worn to school. But, as parents of teens we know when an unplanned conversation starts up with our kids, we need to push out any fear of cooties or schedules and give ourselves fully to the discussion because we don't know when the next window of opportunity will arise.
We were talking about looks - a typical teen topic. Actually, we'd segued into looks after yet another back and forth over piercings and tattoos. I don't know where it comes from but, Eliza is on a constant quest to pierce her nose and JD has planned a series of Colorado based tattoos that would make you wonder if he is being sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. I, of course, say no to all of them because I'm not sure if their desire for this kind thing is a true expression of who they are and who they want to be, or something that just looks cool on Instagram. This conversation predictably ended with the run down of how quickly these things will happen after they turn 18. Fine.
Anyway, I asked the kids to name two features they liked most about themselves and one they liked least (I thought it would be interesting to see how they perceived themselves). They had no problem with either subject and I, in a strategic parenting move, made a point to list a third feature that was great about each of them so they could see how nice it is when someone compliments you and to let them I know I find them amazing. Of course, my children don't always take the bait in such lessons.
When it was my turn, I listed my pros and cons and instead of boosting me up with another pro, JD asked, "What about your chin?". And Eliza followed up with, "Yeah, what about it?". I hadn't listed my chin as a negative even though it was certainly on my list and has been my entire life. So, I had to tamp down the latent middle school angst and demonstrate how to laugh about our flaws. I made a joke about how long my list could be, considered singing a little "Mac the Knife", and added that some of the most interesting people to look at actually have a unique feature that adds to their appeal.
I shared with them that Farrah Fawcett, the ultimate Charlie's Angel and 1970s icon, had one eye that was a full quarter inch higher than the other - this may have been a rumor, but kind of looks true in photos. We also discussed the fact that Adam Levine, People's most recent 'Sexiest Man Alive', has battled acne since he was a teen (a fact lifted from the People Magazine I read at the orthodontist and heard in a Proactiv commercial during the Golden Globes). Our conversation quickly moved onto other topics, but I hope I at least reinforced the fact with them that we shouldn't focus too much on our perceived negatives. Everyone has them. The key is to understand and accept our weak spots and capitalize on our strengths. This works in fashion, business, decor and a whole host of other lifestyle areas.
I know what I said was nothing new. I truly cherish those spontaneous chats with the kids though, regardless of topic. And it made me happy to put a little something more than, "Clean up the bathroom!", "Do you know we have plates?", or "Where are all the water bottles?" into the conversation. It felt good. Except for the part about my chin.
I'm wearing this.
I dig a dress over jeans - I think it gives you more bang for your buck. This particular ensemble is kind of a nod to the 1970s. A wrap dress over flared jeans - hello Rhoda!
gratitude: new pens, scented candles, the smell of pancakes, today's sunrise
thanks and love.