Childhood, Humor, Motherhood

I Was 14 Once Too

Contrary to popular belief, I was 14 years old as well.
Popular opinion = my 14-year-old daughter.
I used to have a lot of attitude and angst.
So I understand.

And yet, I don’t always understand.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to connect with the emotions, pain, and pressure that I’m sure I felt from 1982 to 1988; when I was a teenager.

I’ve become the very thing I dreaded: a parent.

.Annie, I know it’s hard to imagine, but I used to have crushes on boys.
Calling their house, only to hear their father answer the phone, and then slamming the phone down in embarrassment.

What I would have given for Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook in 1984.

I believe I would have made better decisions about my romantic interests if I could “friend” them and see the expressions they make in the bathroom mirror or when they flex muscles in a Kelvin filter.

Freshman year 1984

Would you have approached me in high school?
Or would you have passed me in the hallway?
Would we have had the same classes?
Would we eat the same thing for lunch?

I loved my dog Buffy

In a crowd, it was easy for me to feel invisible and unnoticed
Do you ever feel like that?

Student council in 1985
Attempting to blend in.

At 14, I was always trying to make people laugh, even if it meant making a fool of myself.
Making jokes about the school pizza resembling 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 were never in trouble for this. Most likely because we blended in.

When I was 14, I wore bagels-sized earrings, button-up shirts, and penny loafers.
Sweaters with unicorns and kitty cats bouncing purple balls. IT WAS THE 1980s, AND EVERYONE WAS WEARING THEM.
Corduroy pants, jeans with lots of pockets, and 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.

I wore a sweatshirt from the Cleveland Home and Garden Show a lot that year when I was 14.
I’m not sure why, but I liked this sweatshirt for some reason, despite the fact that it wasn’t particularly cool.
In fact, looking back, I don’t recall it being any different from the other sweatshirts I owned.
I had an AHA moment while sitting in band one day.
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.
I spent New Year’s Eve putting party hats on dogs.

I didn’t go to band camp when I was 14 because I was too afraid to leave home.
For the same reason, I did not participate in the French class trip to Quebec.
As you read this, I can hear you sigh.
I admire how much more independent you are than I was at your age.

In high school, I loved the pizza that looked like brains.
I’m telling the person next to me that the pizza crust resembles brain matter.

When I was 14, I wore musk perfume, had big bangs, and wore blue eyeshadow and mascara.
Behind closed doors, I danced and sweated to songs like Chaka Khan’s “I Feel For You.” It was my first experience with “therapy.”
I was madly in love with several boys but had no relationships.
When I was stuck inside on rainy summer days, I made mix tapes from songs I heard on the radio.
I used to enjoy roller skating around the neighborhood with my friends while listening to the “Footloose” soundtrack on a boom box in the grass.
I spent countless hours in the driveway with my dad, sometimes even in the dark, playing basketball.

my freshman year in band

Aside from the doggy party hats and unicorn sweaters, you and I aren’t all that essentially different.
There is no doubt that these teenage years have been difficult.
There’s been a lot of crying, yelling, and sleepless nights.
It’s been quite an education-don’t speak to you in front of friends, don’t hug you in public, and don’t wear anything embarrassing to school functions.
I’m not going to lie: it’s been challenging.

I dream of the day when I can grab your hand in public and pull you in close without worrying about who is watching.
But for the time being, I’ll just cast sidelong glances.
Looking at this amazing creature that I helped bring into this world.
Remembering that I was 14 once too, and I turned out pretty well.

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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