The Harsh Reality For One Teen

 

IMG_2084An upright small black suitcase on wheels stands on the curb. Next to it are two large and nearly filled plastic bags with orange shoe boxes inside.  Easily identifiable is the Nike brand logo. A tethered book bag and a few other loose items perched on the blacktop.

Young, athletic looking, lean, and flawless nearly onyx colored skin, Jay moves from the rays of Georgia’s blazing summer’s heat and into the shade under a large crape myrtle.

He’s been sitting curbside for a few hours. Jokingly my daughter says, invite him in to stay over, but that’s not an option.  Seriously my cup runneth over with a house of five multi-generational people, but still, my heart is never full.

I saw Jay at the end of my five-mile morning walk.  After showering, polishing my toenails, moisturizing my locs, and snacking, he still lingered in the parking lot in front of the community clubhouse.

Now my heart softens for him. Without even talking to Jay, I figured out what most likely happened.  He had “the look.”

The look of a bewildered teen who thought he knew but begins to realize he isn’t nearly as smart as he thought.

The look of a dejected youth attempting to pilot unknown territory.

The look of a juvenile who is facing the harsh reality of his consequences.

The look of an astonished adolescent who can’t believe his parents put him out.

The look of fear and not knowing what to do next.

Since the temperature was well over 90 degrees outside, I decided to offer him a bottle of cold water.  Hubby walked over with me. I told Jay that I noticed he’d been sitting in front of the clubhouse for a few hours and asked if he wanted the water.

Graciously he thanked me and accepted the water. After a few minutes, hubby left us, and we talked. He was comfortable talking to me. I asked, “So, what’s the story? Why are you out here?”

The day before was Jay’s 19th birthday. To protect his privacy, I call him Jay. He decided to stay out all night. It seems, Jay’s decision was the final straw for his parents. This morning, when he arrived home, as expected, all hell broke loose.

“He wants to see me fail,” is what, Jay said. The 19-year-old lives at home with his mom, dad, and younger sibling. He says his dad could have waited until Thursday to kick him out, but he did it today. Thursday is payday. Thursday would have been more convenient. Jay is learning that bad things typically occur at the most inconvenient time. I also sensed the tension was between Jay and his father.  All of Jay’s comments were preferenced by “he.”  No comments referenced his mother.

There are no perfect words but having been on both sides of the fence, I understood.  I listened to Jay’s story and gave him my perspective.

I told him that without ever meeting or talking to his parents, I suspected the situation was a culmination of events. He shrugged his head in agreement, smiled just enough to show his pretty white teeth, and began to tell me more.

I tried to encourage him, as well as, give him realistic advice and without a preachy tone.  I told him my story of being kicked out of my mom’s house many years ago. To provide him with hope, I explained that my mother now lives with me.  The look on his face was priceless!  I also wanted him to know that his situation is temporary and that it is possible for him to improve his relationship with his parents.

I suggested that when he speaks to his parents, that he show up humble. Apologize with sincerity.  Avoid making excuses. Own his choices and mistakes. Only listen and don’t talk back. His body language and the slight shake of head told me that he wasn’t ready for that type of conversation. I hope he gets there…sooner than later.

He planned to stay the night at a hotel and would figure things out later. I hope that 24 hours later, his perspective changes. I told Jay I would pray for him and his family; he gave me a fist pump and thanked me.

Jay’s story isn’t unique. His situation is a reminder of the ongoing impediments we face raising children. But also the challenges and pressures teens face.  No two stories are the same, but every family faces some challenges.

Reflecting on Jay’s situation, my thoughts are:

  • Kindness is free and so is caring, we must practice as often as possible.
  • When we become so immersed in our own lives, we often fail to notice the people, places, and objects around us. We miss seeing the sad colleague, the depressed child, the ill parent, or someone else who is down and out.
  • We must consciously see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. When we fully engage all five senses, we are cognizant of our surroundings and are more inclined to notice unusual circumstances.
  • To judge others is often instinctive.  However, when we see a situation that is seemingly odd, instead of judging the person or thinking of oneself, offer a listening ear, a kind gesture, or at least acknowledge the persons struggle.  I am not naive and understand the concern for safety. I remember a story from my amazing and generous bestie.  While driving alone on the busy Garden State Parkway, she noticed a car with a woman, whom she did not know, in distress on the shoulder of the road. Many cars passed the lady, but my friend empathized with the stranger and stopped to help her. 🙂

A few days have passed since I met Jay. I haven’t seen him and hope and pray that his situation has improved.

I share this story to emphasize what conscious living looks like but also to encourage you to stay present.  It takes work.

There was a time in my life when I would not have noticed Jay.  Even worse I am ashamed to say; there was a period in my life when I would have seen Jay and jumped to all kinds of false and unfavorable conclusions about him. Lack of exposure, fear, and an idiosyncratic attitude can hold you hostage to impaired thinking.

The current climate in this country of divisiveness, name calling, hatred, and lack of acceptance of people who are different or have opposing views, is disturbing. That’s why it is critical that we live moment-to-moment (mindfully) and engage in kindness and compassionate toward one another.  We cannot achieve complete wellness without consideration for others.

Love and kindness are never wasted.
They always make a difference.
They bless the one who receives them,
and they bless you, the giver.

-Barbara De Angelis

Thanks for visiting! 🙂

 

 

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Celebrating 30 Years of Pure Love!

Friendship. Dating. Relationships. Marriage. Their depth and meaning seem unrelated to when I met my husband 36 years ago.

Cell phones, smartphones, social media, dating websites, and the internet–they did not exist nor did they complicate or interfere in relationships.  Lives were more private.  Sharing too much (or any) personal information was taboo.   You only knew what others told you.  It was up to you to believe the story.

Weddings were less constructive but still intimate.  Today the process, even leading up to the big day is a professional production that costs thousands of dollars. The average cost of a wedding has skyrocketed.

To be honest with you, I often wonder who is the production for?  Is it for bragging rights and to galvanize wedding guests? Is the goal to outdo other couples?

The more important question I ask is, are the bride and groom willing to commit to the grit and tenacity needed to sustain a long-term relationship? Further discussions for the bride and groom are:

  1. What do you know about your partner/bride/groom’s family history? Have you met their family?  Do family values align? Do you like your partner’s family?
  2. What are your values? You must know know values before you can question his/hers.
  3. Do you want children?  Does your mate want children? If so, how many?
  4. Do you agree on the choice to have or not to have children and if not, are you willing to accept it?  Can you both accept opposing views on children? Note: You can’t change him/her!
  5. If you chose to have children, will they attend private school, public school, boarding school, or will the child(ren) be homeschooled?
  6. How will the children be disciplined?
  7. What do you believe about religion?
  8. Is your partner an atheist or agnostic? Do they believe in God, Allah, Buddha, or another higher power? How will the kids be raised?
  9. Where will you live? Close to family or away? City or suburbs?
  10. Will both of you work?  Who earns more money? Does it matter who’s salary is greater?
  11. Is one person’s career more important than the other?
  12. Is anyone bring debt to the relationship?  Who and how much?
  13. . Do you know your credit score? How about your son-to-be’s score?
  14. Do they have a child or children from a previous relationship?
  15. Child support?  Alimony? How much?
  16. What do you know about their health? Are there family health issues that you should know about?
  17. What are their personal and professional goals?
  18. What motivates them? What motives you?
  19. Did previous relationships/marriage fail? Why? Cheating? Adultery?
  20. What do you know about yourself and your personality type? Are you an introvert or extrovert? What about your partner?
  21. What does forgiveness mean to you?
  22. What do sex and intimacy mean to you? What does sex mean to your partner?  Do you like it? Does your partner like it? What are their sexual expectations? Do they align with yours? As my cousin says, “All sex ain’t good sex!”
  23. What are your attitudes toward money?
  24. Who will cook, clean, grocery shop, and handle finances?
  25. Will you have separate or joint bank accounts?

I have known many marriages to end over some of the above issues.

My husband and I met at ages 17 & 19.  We talked about many topics on the list but not everything and struggled with other issues.

Thanks to God, luck, maturity, and a handful smart folks around us, today we celebrate 30 years of marriage. The years were good. On a few occasions, I felt like we were drifting apart; however, before we stayed too far, we got back on track. When your mate is oblivious to trouble in paradise, you gotta let them know and visa verse.

Situations that sent me into a tirade years ago I now laugh at. No longer do I sweat the dumb shit. I’ve learned to say fuck it and move on and without the attitude.  I see my husband for whom he is not whom I want him to be.  I’ve accepted the good, bad, ugly, and the wonderful and the same for him.

Due to a health scare, nearly two weeks ago, I thought I was going to lose him forever. Our relationship passed before my eyes. Loss of our friendship and the thought of not making love to him one last time freaked me out. I had to remind myself to breathe and to think.

If have been married for any length of time, you know that marriage is a full-time job. Please feel free to comment and fill in the cracks where I missed.

If you are a newbie to the game, you might want to save this post and reread it and again and assess where you are in your marriage. If you are in a relationship and are pondering marriage, print out the list of questions and begin your work.

I can endlessly talk and write about marriage and relationships. My chatter about marriage is not to boast, because some marriages survive 30 years but demise before or after 40. You’re never safe in the marriage game. My ramblings are to help others.

Marriages are rarely given the chance. Couples give up on their marriages too soon and in some cases they give up because they never really knew the other. The fakeness of the honeymoon stage have couples trippin’ over stuff that ain’t real. In other cases, the signs are present in the person, but the partner either sees the behavior as cute or something they think they can change. Nope! The marriage takes place and ish begins to jump off.

We celebrate our 30 years by relaxing on the beach. We both enjoy the beach and never bought into what you’re “supposed” to do on specific anniversary date. We think of today and our four-day getaway as wellness days for our marriage.

Today I also give thanks to God for bringing us through teen-hood to full-fledge adulthood. Our friendship spans 36-years and for that I am grateful.

Happy Anniversary to us! 🙂