March 27, 2008

That's odd.

And sorta frightening.

Oldest turns 18 today.

I remember when she was much younger--maybe 5 turning 6--and I went in to wake her up one morning. She opened her eyes and looked around, then sat up and started looking quizzically at her arms and legs. "What's the matter, sugar?"

"I though you said I was going to be a big girl on my birthday!"

Seems as though all of Mom and Dad's talk back then about turning the magical age of six and being a big girl was translated in her mind as meaning she'd wake up on her birthday and be full grown.

Having now lived with her through all of the less-than-pleasant turmoil of the intervening 12 or so years since that time, I have a feeling that having now reached the age of majority, she has the firm belief she is finally an actual grown up.

And, well, you know, good luck with that.

No, really.

I don't wish for any of my kids to have to endure bad times and bad things, but I know that being human, those things do come to us all. But I also know that despite my best efforts and intentions, she will meet the adult world woefully unprepared.

We've tried to show her, tell her, make her, cajole her into seeing and understanding and learning, and I know a few scraps of that made it through to her consciousness, but I also know most of what we've tried to make plain simply went into the mental shred file.

And that's a failure on my part.

But at least I can take some comfort in knowing that it wasn't failure by simple inaction. Somewhat like Wile E. Coyote (Genius), of whom it can never be said that his high rate of disaster was due to his being lazy and innattentive, I am perversely gratified in some small way that although my big box of ACME Parenting Skills blowed up real good, it was nonetheless spectacular and noticeable, and occasionally entertaining to viewers.

If only real life were like the cartoons, I'd be a bit less concerned for the fate of my own little roadrunner.

But, there she is, in the eyes of the law and in her mind's eye, an adult.

Like I said, good luck with that.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at March 27, 2008 10:31 AM

I can't believe I've "known" you in the blogosphere long enough to remember when she turned 16. Darn these kids for growing up (at least age-wise).

I think even those of us who were relatively speaking born middle aged needed a thorough roughing up and shaking, caused by doing lots of really stupid stuff, to stop being adolescents. You just have to pray that they survive the transition.

Posted by: Jordana at March 27, 2008 11:34 AM

Amen to that, Miss Jordana. Survival both for her and her parents!

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at March 27, 2008 02:23 PM

Oh wow. I think y'all again will see much drama & tears. Part of life I guess. In other news my 2 oldest Grands will be here in the Festüng this summer. I also get to deliver the GS to RIT in NY where he'll be doing a materials science & mech e degree. I can foresee a few phone calls in my future. Oldest GD is going to start UNI in Wolfsberg then here. It'll be nice to get to know them as adults.

Posted by: Chef Tony at March 27, 2008 03:55 PM

Well tell 'em we all said hey!

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at March 27, 2008 04:26 PM

So has oldest decided what she's going to do after HS?

Posted by: Chef Tony at March 27, 2008 09:46 PM

Congratulations! For you, silly ... one of the goals of parenting is to have them survive until they're 18, then your legal obligation is over.

And no, you're not a failure. As young as the ones I have, I'm amazed at their hardheadedness and their inability to grasp the simple reality that since you've been "around the block" a few times that you may know better than they do. I do know the thick skulls will continue to ignore my well-meaning advice as the years go by, but I'll keep trying as I know you did and still do.

Yes, she was the first so she had the "pleasure" of enduring your mistakes, and hopefully you learned from them and moved on. It may take a few years, but I'm confident she'll come back home someday and express tremendous gratitude at how good she had it back in her "yute". Uh-huh.
(A parent's dream ...)

Posted by: Marc V at March 28, 2008 06:03 AM

Just wait until she makes you a grandpappy. I imagine you will see the dawning light of comprehension by then.

And, so we're not going completely negative, Happy Birthday, Oldest!

Posted by: skinnydan at March 28, 2008 07:51 AM

Yep, Tony--going way off to school in Montgomery to study journalism. (WT!?)

And thanks for the hopeful words from you, Marc, I sure hope you're right.

And Skinnydan, I keep going over in my mind whether or not to hope she has a kid who acts just like her. On one hand, I so enjoy schadenfreude, yet on the other, why would I wish that sort of thing on my own kid!? It's a mystery. But no matter, thanks for the birthd'y wishes on her behalf!

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at March 28, 2008 08:27 AM

My twenties were the angst-ridden years. I was pretty happy-go-lucky before then.

Then things leveled back out again around 32.

Good luck to her.

Posted by: Janis Gore at March 28, 2008 08:28 AM

Thank you, Miss Janis. Deep down, I think she probably understands things, but it's just the task of getting her to accept some basic hard lessons about reality that's going to take some time. Here's hoping that her "a-hah" moment isn't too terrible.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at March 28, 2008 08:31 AM

Has someone told her that most of the jobs in journalism entail lousy hours and sucky pay?

Posted by: Janis Gore at March 28, 2008 09:16 AM

Oh, dear, ignorant, Miss Janis--don't you know she'll be a high-paid network newswoman when she graduates!?


Oh, we could attempt to tell her about the long hours and the sucky pay and the snide newsroom politics and stuff like that, but that would only inflame her and make her swear we were trying to ruin her life and that we don't know anything and we're stupid and mean and don't love her.

So, you know--"good luck with that," and all.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at March 28, 2008 09:23 AM

Has she learned to type yet? That also seems rather necessary for journalism. Or maybe not if you are just going to be sitting in front of the TV cameras and letting the peons do the typing for you.

Posted by: Jordana at March 28, 2008 10:03 AM

Yes, thank heavens, she finally took typing/computer last year.

I have to say, given her rather--shall we say, interesting--view of world history and current events and her disdain for logic, she actually would fit in quite well with the current crop of journalists.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at March 28, 2008 10:26 AM

Take heart Terry!

The one undeniable truth I've learned from myself and now watching two sibs think they'd all growed up is this: Even when they're adults, they'll still be your kids. Sometimes they'll seek your advice (not as much as they should perhaps) and you'll still be able to hold some influence.

At the end of the day, you're a conscientious guy and you've taken conscientious efforts ... good things can come of that.

Posted by: Kenny at March 28, 2008 11:32 AM

On the subject of journalism, my anecdote is this:

Fresh out of college I was working three broadcasting jobs, about 70plus hours (not counting travel).

Fridays in the fall meant being at work from 5:45 in the morning until 11:45 at night with a two hour break in between. And on Saturdays and Sundays I had the morning shift. Those were the days.

I annualized about 14K. That was in 2000.

After a year of that I made it above the poverty line. The year after THAT I could afford groceries AND!!! a car repair in the same week.

The internets, I've found, actually pay better.

Posted by: Kenny at March 28, 2008 11:38 AM

Thanks for the parenting encouragement and the shocking anecdote, Kenny. I know you worked hard, but if only you'd just been a high-paid television news reporter, you'd not been so poverty stricken. ;)

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at March 28, 2008 11:43 AM

I'd also point out in Oldest's defense (since she's SO! PICKED! ON!) that I spent a brief, unsuccessful year as an engineering major before I retired to the relative safety and poverty of history.

The nice part about college is you can try your must-have career on for size before rocketing straight to the top of the profession. Like a supermodel's hair color, things tend to look different when you get up close to them. The reality of journalism will become apparent once she actually gets a shot at doing it.

Posted by: skinnydan at March 28, 2008 11:51 AM

Congratulations and good luck. I've got another two weeks before I, or rather my oldest, hits the same milestone.

Posted by: charles austin at March 28, 2008 03:00 PM

Skinnydan, I'm just hoping she bypasses wanting to be a double-naught spy or a fry cook.

And Charles!! I was wondering how you were doing with your bundle o'joy--I knew they were just about the same age. Hope all is well.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at March 30, 2008 07:49 PM

18! She's 18! Oh my, here's hoping that she gets her wake-up call without too many tears.

Posted by: Sarah G. at March 30, 2008 10:01 PM

What a big, wide world it is for kids these days and there's so much for them to learn even after they turn 18 and get "all grown up." Heck, my youngest is 24 and still figuring out his way in the world.

And they never stop being your kids, no matter how big they get. Congrats to the Oldest, Terry and congrats to you too. She may not recognize your efforts and lessons now but I suspect she will appreciate them sooner or later.

Posted by: Nate at March 30, 2008 10:33 PM

Me too, Sarah. Although maybe if it does turn out badly, some cake and ice cream and a pony ride will make it better.

And thanks for the encouragement, Nate. As you note, it does sometimes take a while to figure things out. One of these days, I'm thinking I'll figure out what in the world I'm supposed to do!

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at March 31, 2008 08:07 AM

Terry, most is well, and what ain't ain't worth complaining about. What's interesting is to try and remember the world when we were 18 and how it is now. Heck three recording formats (VHS, BETA and DVD) have been invented and become obslete since then. Hard to imagine what the next 30 years will bring.

Posted by: charles austin at March 31, 2008 08:51 AM

::wistful sigh:: Ahhh, the joys of listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival on 8-track...

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at March 31, 2008 09:47 AM

Happy Birthday to Ashley! She will be surprised at how much smarter YOU become in the next few years.

Posted by: Kathy at March 31, 2008 11:49 AM

At least until I run away from home and join the circus.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at March 31, 2008 01:18 PM

Er, Terry? What makes you think home isn't the circus?

Congrats to Ashley on reaching 18, and to you for not ending her life before that. May her discovery that the world does not, indeed, exist only to serve her needs be both gentle and quick.

Gosh, I would not be that age again for anything. Well, except maybe my figure.

Posted by: Diane at March 31, 2008 03:10 PM

NO COTTON CANDY, dernitall! And no scantily-clad women on a trapeze.


ANYway, thanks for the good wishes for us all, and I agree with you about not wanting to be 18 again, either.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at March 31, 2008 03:23 PM

Hey, I had Petula Clark on 4-track tape!

Posted by: Nate at March 31, 2008 09:59 PM

Listen, sunshine, make with the ponies & ice cream and we can talk about cotton candy.

In the interim, it'll feel more like a circus with a few of these.

Posted by: skinnydan at April 1, 2008 08:10 AM

Speaking of 4-track, for all of us not-quite-as-old-timers-as-Nate, some background information.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at April 1, 2008 08:16 AM

Speaking of marshmallow circus peanuts, some background information.

Speaking of ice cream, some background information.

And speaking of ponies, some background information.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at April 1, 2008 09:04 AM

So THAT'S what those disgusting orange candies are called! Even when I was a little bitty kid (i.e., 50+ years ago), I didn't like them.

And Dan, you should have followed Miss Kathie's strategy for supporting yourself with a history degree: marry an engineer (although Kathie has done well in technical and corporate publications).

Posted by: steevil (Dr Weevil's bro Steve) at April 1, 2008 11:43 AM

Heh, just read this: Journalism school graduates: How to increase your chance of finding a job and decrease your chance of having to vent on

Very good advice for anyone coming out of HS or Uni.

Posted by: Chef Tony at April 2, 2008 12:53 PM

"Stop blaming others"

Why, that's just CRAZY TALK!!

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at April 2, 2008 01:22 PM