Childhood, Humor, Motherhood

I Was 14 Once Too

Contrary to popular opinion, I used to be 14 years old too.
Popular opinion = my 14-year-old daughter.
VERY long ago, I, too had attitude and angst.
So I get it.
Unless, of course, when I don’t.

It’s a shame we don’t have our children when we’re still children.

In the worst teenage pregnancy dissuasion conversation ever, the point I’m trying to make here is this: have your children as soon as you can AFTER taking care of your schooling/career choice.
Don’t put it off.
Because the older you get, the greater the gap between your teen years and those of your child.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to relate to the emotions, the pain, and the pressure that I surely felt from 1982 through 1988.
I have turned into the very thing I feared; a parent.

Annie, I know it’s hard to believe, but I used to have major crushes on boys.
Calling their house, only to hear their dad pick up the phone and then I would quickly slam the phone down in embarrassment.
Slam a phone down is probably a foreign term for you.
Quickly and fiercely press the end call button really, really hard.
What I would have given in 1984 for Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook.
I feel I would have made much more informed choices in my love interests had I been able to “friend” them and see the faces they make in the bathroom mirror or when they flex muscles in a Kelvin filter.

I’ve have been “there” before, but not quite “there.”
I see some parallels.
You don’t have acne.
You have great friends.
You love music.


Freshman year 1984

Would you have talked to me in high school?
Or would you have walked past me in the hall?
Would we have been in the same classes?
Would we order the same things at lunch?

I loved my dog Buffy

In a crowd of people, it was easy for me to just get lost, go unnoticed.
I still feel like that.
Do you ever feel that way?

Student council in 1985
Trying to blend in.

At 14, I was always trying to make people laugh, even at the expense of looking like a goofball.
Making jokes about the school pizza looking like brains.
Sneaking up behind friends in the hall and scaring them.
Ruining the French Club school picture with my friend Jenny…

Ruining the French Club picture as a teenager.
We never got in trouble for this. Probably because we blended in.

At 14, I wore earrings the size of bagels, button-up shirts, and penny loafers.
Sweaters with unicorns and kitty cats bouncing purple balls. IT WAS THE 80’s EVERYONE WAS WEARING THEM.
Corduroy pants, jeans with lots of pockets, feathered hair.

I dressed like Michael Jackson as a teenager?
Penny loafers? Check. White socks? Check. Unicorn sweater? Check. I look like the Caucasian Michael Jackson.

When I was 14, I wore a sweatshirt from the Cleveland Home and Garden show a lot that year.
I don’t know why, but I liked this sweatshirt for some reason and it wasn’t even a really cool sweatshirt.
In fact, looking back, I can’t recall it being any different from the other sweatshirts I owned.
One day while sitting in band I had an AHA moment.
An “umm. I wear this sweatshirt a lot” moment.
A “people are going to start thinking I don’t wash it” moment.
I’m curious if you think about these things.
Do you talk to yourself about your clothing choices?

When I was a teenager, I dressed up my dog.
Spending New Year’s Eve putting party hats on dogs.

When I was 14, I didn’t go to band camp because I was too afraid to leave home for an entire week.
I also didn’t go on the French class trip to Quebec for the same reason.
I can hear you sighing loudly as you read this.
And, as evidenced above, I evidently liked dressing up my dog.
Spending New Year’s Eve my freshman year dressing up the dog is probably one of the many reasons I was spending New Year’s Eve with my dog in the first place.

In high school, I loved the pizza that looked like brains.
Talking about how the pizza crust looks like brain matter. Because it did.

When I was 14, I wore musk perfume, I had stellar big bangs, and always wore blue eyeshadow and matching blue mascara.
In my room, I danced and sweated to songs like “I Feel For You” by Chaka Khan behind locked doors. It was my first form of therapy.
I was madly in love with several boys but didn’t have a single relationship.
I made mix tapes from songs I heard on the radio when stuck inside on rainy summer days.
I loved roller skating through the neighborhood with my friends, while listening
to the “Footloose” soundtrack on a boom box laying in the grass.
I spent countless hours playing basketball in the driveway with my dad, sometimes even in the dark.

my freshman year in band

Really, aside from the doggy party hats and unicorn sweaters, you and I aren’t that different.
There is no doubt that these teenage years have been challenging so far.
There have been lots of tears, yelling, and sleepless nights.
It’s been quite an education-speak only when spoken to in the presence of friends, don’t hug you when we are in public, and don’t wear anything embarrassing to school functions.
I’m not going to lie, it’s been hard.

I hold onto the promise of a day where I can grab your hand in public and pull you in close, not worrying about who is watching.
But for the time being, I will steal sideways glances.
Gazing at this amazing creature that I had a hand in bringing into this world.
Remembering that I was 14 once too.
And I turned out pretty okay.

27 thoughts on “I Was 14 Once Too”

  1. I agree with Shannon… we would have been fab friends in the '80s. Although I would be the older friend, which would be awkward because you are so youthful. And hilarious. I seriously loved this. xo


  2. I love this more than you could ever know…..I wish I could turn back the clock and talk you into going on that trip to Quebec. It scared the crap outta me to go and I'm pretty sure I would've had a better time had you gone. Maybe we should plan a trip and I could take you to the places we went. Especially the disco….but we would drink this time. Legally. And hope that they still have the phones so you could call table-to-table. No lie.Thank YOU so much for the pictures….takes me back to what we now know as a simpler time…..


  3. So glad to have met you in my adult life. Because I so love burping, farting and being weird with you… as few and far in between as those moments have been… love this post!


  4. This is a fantastic post, Kari. Took me back to sweaters, blue eye shadow and my own party hat dogs. I think we'd have been good friends in school.


  5. Love this. 14. So much joy, so much pain, so much hair spray. I can already tell that I am going to seriously struggle as a parent of teenage girls. Hang in there. Clarinet players for the win!


  6. I love this so much. Fourteen. I remember that year. It was just awful (periods, glasses, horrible, horrible clothing), but wonderful too (independence, boys, jokes and laughter). Such a great post!


  7. Love this! We're a generation apart, but I feel like 14 was very similar for us (only I wasn't nearly as happy as you seemed to be.). I often think about how 14 seems so far away. Especially now that my childhood relics are considered vintage (GAH!). My niece is 15, and I can't believe how difficult it is to relate to her. She reminds me so much of myself at that age, yet I have no idea how to talk to her like a person rather than a person whose butt I used to wipe or whose nose I used to clean. Wah wah, Beautiful post, Kari!


  8. I always love your comments, Hannah.I feel like we all can relate to this time no matter what age we are.I had a great childhood but I had my dark moments too but I am glad it came off as all happy because that makes me happy! Wait until I write a post about my junior year……maybe not. EEK.


  9. Gadzooks! I read this a few days ago and loved it, and apparently forgot to tell you so! My daughter is managing 14 so much better than I did, yet for some reason I have the nerve to wonder if she's doing ok (seriously, there was no sarcasm intended here). Love the photos…the lunch table one combined with the notion of making others laugh struck terror for the day I spit a mouthful of milk ALL OVER the cool girls table when I burst out laughing…I hope it is one of those distorted memories and I really only dribbled some down my chin….but I did not…


  10. Love, love, love.

    Reading this, I was instantly 14 again, and now have done the math several times to confirm that it really has been THREE DECADES since then. They say the numbers don’t lie, but I’m not so sure.

    You’re a great mom, and you know – because we have that perspective several decades gives a girl – that your daughter will come out on the other side of this teenager business, and she will be more than okay. (Because she has a great mom!)


    1. I love that you just read this! That 14 year-old is going to graduate in four months. WHERE DID IT GO??

      You’re a great mom too Missy. 🙂


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