Childhood, Humor, Motherhood

I Was 14 Once Too

Contrary to popular opinion I used to be 14.
Popular opinion = my 14-year-old daughter.
Very, very, VERY long ago, I too had angst, constant attitude (sorry mom and dad) and fresh cramps.
Serious fresh cramps.
Hence the constant attitude….duh. 
So I get it.
Except when I don’t.
It’s too bad we don’t have our kids when we are, well, kids.
In the worst teenage pregnancy dissuasion conversation ever, the point I am trying to make here is this: have your children as soon as you can AFTER getting your schooling/career choice/marriage taken care of.
Don’t wait.
Because the older you get, the more distance you put between your teen years and your child’s.
It is getting harder and harder to relate to the feelings, the pain, the pressure that I once undoubtedly felt from 1982-1988.
I have become what we all fear.
A parent.
Annie, I know it is hard to believe but at one point in time, I had mad crushes on boys.
Calling their house only to hear their dad pick up the phone then quickly slam the phone down.
Slam a phone down is probably a foreign term for you.
Quickly and fiercely press the end call button really, really hard.
Oh, what I would have given for Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook back in 1984.
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. Yes, I have been “there”.
Not exactly “there” but theoretically “there”.
I see some similarities.
You don’t have to struggle with acne.
You are welcome.
You have amazing friends.
So did I. 
You love music and know all the names of all the artists that are popular.
Like, freakishly know all the names.
I am the master.
Which I learned from the grand master, my dad, your papa. 


Freshman year 1984

Would you have talked to me in high school?
Or would you have passed me in the hall, smiling brightly but never getting to know me?
Would we have been in the same classes?
Would we order the same things at lunch?

I loved my dog Buffy

At 14, I loved to ski, loved to stay at home on winter weeknights and snuggle with my dog.
I was really good at playing the clarinet, had lots of hobbies and tons of friends but I felt like I blended in at school.

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
Blending in. Even in a student council picture.



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….it totally did.
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 I blended in.


At 14, I wore earrings the size of bagels, button-up shirts, and penny loafers.
Sweaters with unicorns or kitty cats bouncing purple balls IT WAS THE 80’s EVERYONE WAS WEARING THEM.
Corduroy pants, jeans with lots of pockets, feathered hair.
I am sure my parents cheered when feathered hair went away because haircut every four weeks.
You know, to keep the feathers laying just so.
Kind of the way we are counting the days until short shorts go away.

I dressed like Michael Jackson as a teenager?
…or wear them all at once. Penny loafers? Check. White socks? Check. Unicorn sweater? Check. I look like the Caucasian Michael Jackson.



I also wore a sweatshirt from the Cleveland Home and Garden show a lot my freshman year.
I don’t know why but for some reason I loved this sweatshirt and it wasn’t even a really cool sweatshirt.
In fact, looking back I can’t recall it being any different than most sweatshirts I owned.
It was one day while sitting in band that 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 wonder 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 was still very close to my parents.
I didn’t go to band camp this year 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 this very same reason.
I can hear you sighing really, really loudly at this.
And apparently, I also liked to dress up my dog as witnessed above.
But it was New Year’s Eve!
Me 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.


Me and my teenage best friend, Wendy.
Wendy and I on the last day of eighth grade. We didn’t have a graduation, just shaving cream.


I had amazing friends who I could belch, fart and be a weirdo with, exactly like the friends I have today.
They didn’t judge me, accepted me the way I was and helped to form the person I have become..
My childhood best friend Wendy’s infectious laugh is part of the reason I love to make people laugh to this day.
She lived five houses down the street from me and we were inseparable until graduation tore us apart.
You had bumps in the road but you have amazing friendships that have developed since starting high school, some from elementary school and you have your own “Wendy” who lives just across the street.



In high school, I loved the pizza that looked like brains.
Talking about how the pizza crust looks like brains. IT DID.


I wore musk perfume, had stellar big bangs and always wore blue eyeshadow.
I danced and sweated for hours to “I Feel For You” by Chaka Khan in my room behind locked doors.
I was desperately in love with many different boys but didn’t have a single boyfriend.
Probably because I was very busy perfecting my Chaka Khan moves and the whole dog dressing up scenario.
I made mix tapes from songs on the radio on rainy summer days.
roller skated through the neighborhood with my friends while listening
to the “Footloose” soundtrack on a boom box.
I played basketball for countless hours 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, we aren’t that different, you and I.
Oh sure, there are generational differences but monumentally, for as much as things change they also stay the same.
There is no doubt that it has been challenging, these teenage years so far.
Personally, I feel this time around is so much harder.
Going through it on the other side of things as a parent.
There have been lots of tears, yelling and many a sleepless night.
And that has been on my end.
It has been quite an education….speak
only when spoken to while around your friends, don’t hug you when we
are in public, don’t wear anything embarrassing to school functions.
It’s been hard, I am not gonna lie.

I know someday I will get you back.
I hold onto the promise of a day where I can grab your hand in public and just pull you in close.
Not worrying about who is watching.
But for now, 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 OK.


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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