Archives for category: teens

happy-scale

A little over a year ago, my then 13 year old daughter had to go to the doctor for her yearly checkup. She was dreading it, because she knew she was chubby, and that the doctor would lecture her on losing weight, just like she did every year.

Old doc didn’t disappoint. My little girl left the office depressed and sulky with a wounded pride and a prescription for her acne.

Over the next few days she moped around the house, barely eating. When I’d fix her breakfast or dinner, she would bring her plate back up having eaten little. This went on for a few weeks, and I finally had to give her a talk about how if she wanted to lose weight, not eating wasn’t going to get her anywhere in the long run.

We shopped for sensible snacks, and cut out soda all together. She started walking on the treadmill we have in the garage for 30-45 minutes most days. I begged her to let me weigh her, but she refused. I think she was scared that the scale was going to reflect the same old fat number she’d had at the doctor’s office.

One morning I told her that she was going on the scale – that we had to see if what she was doing was working. If it wasn’t, we’d find another solution, but we had to know.

My girl had lost over 10 pounds in less than a month. And this was why I wanted her on that scale – that number motivated her to keep going.

All through the year she watched what she ate, but didn’t deprive herself of the occasional cupcake or egg roll, and kept up her exercise. I knew the weight was coming off because pants I’d bought her just a few months back didn’t fit her anymore, and the XL T-shirts I’d bought her for Christmas hung on her like nightgowns.

Fall rolled back around and it was time to head back to the doctor for another check up – but she was looking forward to this one. The nurse took her blood pressure, checked her vision and her height, and put her on the scale.

A few minutes later, she came back into the office to double check the number on the scale. She said the doctor had seen the difference in weight, and wanted her to double check that she hadn’t made a mistake.

My husband, daughter and I chuckled at this.

When the doctor came in, she was amazed at the change. My child, with hard work and determination, had lost almost 40 pounds over the course of the year. The doctor asked her how she did it, and congratulated her on good choices. She apologized for sending the nurse back in to double-check the scale, but explained that so few children actually lose the weight once they are told they need to, that she’d assumed it was an error.

Doc looked at her and said, “you really made my day.”

And doc made her day too. She was floating on air the rest of the afternoon, even though she had to endure a flu shot and her final HPV shot. She’s still watching her portion size and getting on that treadmill.

And I’m still buying her new clothes…size small.

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This is going to be an odd story to tell, because while I remember certain key elements about this particular weekend, I don’t remember a lot of the connective details. Stuff like eating dinner or who I roomed with, or actually studying the Bible – these points are really nothing but shadows.

When I was in my teens a few friends of mine asked me to come to a Friday night youth group at this church that was just a few blocks from my house. We were not a religious family at all – I believed in God, but had not attended church or even read the Bible.

I will fully admit that my desire to attend this youth group was more social than spiritual. However, there were worse places a teenage girl could be spending a Friday night. And who knows? Perhaps the Holy Book might really make an impression on me.

What made an impression on me instead was this kid Jeff from Tenafly. He was ADORABLE – curly hair and a crooked smile. Uff da. While he has absolutely nothing to do with this story, I feel compelled to mention him because it was my crush on him that pretty much kept me coming back to the youth group week after week.

It’s a cringe-worthy admission.

That winter the youth group was sponsoring a Bible study weekend up in Vermont. I begged my parents to go, and I still can’t believe I was given permission, but on a cold Friday night I was picked up, put in the very back of a station wagon, and carted up to some resort in Vermont.

MEMORY #1 – The Car Ride

When I say “the back of a station wagon” do you remember the ones that had the seat that faced backwards? Yeah, that’s where they stuck me. I was bundled up for the cold, but the car had the heat blasting, and it also had roughly 7 people sitting in it. I got very hot very fast. And I was riding backwards.

I think we were somewhere in Connecticut when I threw up.

I had complained of feeling sick, so they moved me into the back seat, but it was too little too late. While I did manage to get a majority of it out the window, we still needed to stop at a gas station to a) clean me up and b) de-funk the back seat of the wagon. Shortly thereafter they stopped for dinner, where I stayed in the car both too sick and too mortified to do anything more than sleep.

MEMORY #2 – Horseback Riding

The first morning of our retreat we went horseback riding. I was thrilled to be doing this, having never been on a horse other than your average pony ride. The handlers had asked if anyone had riding experience, and my girlfriend Pam raised her hand, and also offered that she could ride an English saddle.

“Hmmm” said my brain – Pam lived in a tiny apartment with her divorced mom and older brother – where the hell did she learn how to ride an English saddle?

This would prove to be troublesome for me down the line.

The handlers let us know that the horses had to be kept in a certain order – horse A (my horse) did not like horse F (Pam’s horse), so they should be kept apart. Fine. Off we went down the trail.

All was fine n’ dandy until I heard a ruckus kicking up behind me. Pam, with her crackerjack English riding skills, was having trouble controlling her horse. It was moving out of its place in line and making its way towards me. Me, as in the gal who is currently riding the horse that hates Pam’s horse. Do you see where this is going?

Once my horse caught sight of Pam’s horse, they both started to run…slowly at first, but before long we were pretty much at a full blown gallop. Now this is where the day really got fun.

My saddle broke.

All I know is that while we were wildly galloping across the field, my body started to slide to the left. The saddle was slipping, and my whole body listed – I only had one leg over the back of the horse and I was frantically attempting to hold on to anything. We were approaching a line of fence, and I thought I was a goner. If the horse tried to jump it, I was fairly certain my head would not clear. Eating barbed wire was not part of my plans when I woke up that morning.

Thankfully one of the handlers caught up to us and was able to stop the horse. Once my feet were out of those stirrups and set firmly on the frozen ground there was no getting back on. After shooting Pam a glaring look, I marched back to the stables on foot.

MEMORY #3 – The Song

My last memory of this weekend actually isn’t a bad one at all. It was Saturday night and we were having a Bible jamboree in the big hall. There were tons of other youth groups from all around the area, and it was a huge crowd. Again, I don’t quite remember how push came to shove, but somehow my friend Carol and I volunteered to sing as part of the evening’s festivities.

The musical director suggested we sing “You Light Up My Life,” a song that was hugely popular at the time. While it was a #1 song, I didn’t know all the words, and I have to say, it made me a little nervous – could I learn them all in the span of a half an hour? We practiced a few times, and then the show began. I was scared, but I had Carol to go out there with me – a partner in crime so to speak.

Ha.

Right before it was our turn she chickened out. I was left with the decision to cut and run with her, or go out there alone and quite literally face the music. I thought of the time the musical director had spent with us rehearsing, and thought it would be a douche move to bail on him.

So I walked out there alone. Me, in my Dorothy Hamill haircut, and sensible Sears clothing. I stood on the stage next to the piano and whispered to him “it’s just me…is that okay? Are you sure I can do this?”

He nodded and smiled and began to play. I got through the song – I remember being too afraid to look out into the audience, which was, in my mind, massive – like Carnegie Hall massive. Instead I just looked at the Musical Director and plodded my way through the song. I’m pretty sure I fucked up the lyrics at one point, but it didn’t matter.

When I finished, he smiled and winked at me, and said “Great job.” And then there was the applause. I remember it being loud, and I remember that it was the only time I could look out into the very large audience. Wow. I’d done it.

When I left the stage, there were lots of pats on the back and congratulatory comments from both friends and strangers. I’ll admit, it felt awesome – I was really glad I hadn’t bailed. And Carol? She was a little envious – and perhaps a bit regretful.

Those are the three big memories from that weekend. We might have gone skiing, but I don’t really remember. I also remember I made the trip home without throwing up, which was a personal victory for me.

Vintage-Ski-Styles

When I was growing up in northern New Jersey our town’s Rec Center used to hold ski trips. The kids would meet in front of the Rec Center, board a bus and head up to Vernon Valley for an afternoon of skiing. There were times where my mom and I, while running errands in town, would pass the Rec Center and I’d watch all the kids lined up with their bags and their skis waiting for the chartered bus to pick them up.

And I was so envious of them.

I grew up in a pretty wealthy town. We were not wealthy. We weren’t on skid row or anything, but there was no extra money to be spent on nonsense like lift tickets and ski rentals. So, Rec Center ski trips were out of the question for me. I acted like I didn’t care – like those kids were all assholes.

Some of them were. But a lot of them weren’t. They were kids I ate lunch with, or might walk part of the way home with. But they could afford to go on the Rec Center ski trips, and I couldn’t. So like any brooding teenager is apt to do, you viewed them with a cool loathing rather than blatant envy.

I did eventually ski though. While I might not have been able to go on the Rec Center trips, my Junior year in high school I became friends with this guy Paul whose parents had a house by Hunter Mountain. Ah Hunter… One of Upstate New York’s finest ski lodges.

For the next 6 years or so, Paul would call me on a random Thursday night and say, “We’re heading up to Hunter tomorrow…wanna come?” It wasn’t always winter either. Sometimes we went up in the summer and attended a festival at Hunter Mountain. Sometimes we just went up for some R & R. But if it was winter? We went skiing.

I was never a great skier, but I learned how to hold my own on the intermediate slopes. I only rode an actual ski lift a few times and dreaded/planned my departure from the chair the entire way up. My trip down would take my about 25 minutes as I would slowly shoosh my way down making a very wide, very horizontal path.

Susie Chapstick I was not.

I remember one weekend a whole bunch of us went up to Paul’s house. It had snowed gangbusters the night before so conditions were going to be phenomenal. The day turned out being a real keeper – temps hit the mid 50s; folks were skiing without coats. We went back to the house, put beach chairs in the snow and drank a case of beer.

It was AWESOME. I left Hunter in February with a sunburn.

My best ski trip ever though, was when I was in Austria. When I took my semester abroad, our school sent us on a ski trip to Semmering. Having not skied in a while, I decided to use the free ski instruction the lodge provided. Our teacher’s name was Norbert, which I found humorous…were his parents undecided between Norman and Burton?

Nobert? He turned out to be a real perv. While doing snowplow turns down the bunny slope, he would shoosh up behind me, wedge his skis between mine and push his pelvis against my ass in very firm, very suggestive manner. It wasn’t just me… he did it to all the girls. He got very drunk at the lodge party later that night and tried very hard to grind us a wee bit more on the dance floor.

But during that day, as I made my way down the slopes an hour south of Vienna, I thought about those kids that used to go on the Rec Center’s ski trips. I could never go, but here I was in Austria. AUSTRIA. On skis. Me.

Beats the hell out of Vernon Valley.