Tag Archives: weekly writing challenge

Teen Advice in Snippets, Weekly Writing Challenge

Writer’s Challenge Note:  I ran out of time for editing too much, but I did what I could in bold. I’ve been an editor for too many years so I know the value of it; however, here in WordPress World I found myself so much more at ease with writing, so much more confident and content that I didn’t feel the need to slash all my words. I simply commanded them and they stuck. I don’t think I could’ve experienced this without WordPress.

Snipping away at yourself makes for a difficult day, let alone life. A general glance strikes you as a hit with another’s eye. But, really, was it a glance at you or was it something else entirely? You don’t even consider that until years later when you’ve grown older and you realize these snippets never really mattered to anyone but you because, well, just because.

Teens, and often enough Tweens, live in a bubble built upon self-interest and self-conscous slaps to the face. They riddle themselves with bullets shiny and new. Shiny because their “friends” polish them and new because it is new to them.

This age group which is about 11-17, sometimes as old as 18, roams around with so much pain because at the same time that their bodies are changing, they see the world for what it is, and it is not so pretty and sometimes neither are they.

If any of us adults could fast forward teens to ten years later, we might be able to spare them all of this needless pain. We can rewind though for ourselves.

When I walk backward to that day when I found myself taller than the boy I liked, a pimple sprouting in the middle of my forehead, hair too frizzy to feather, voice too soft to cheerlead, butt too big to wear short shorts, lips too small to call sexy, I want to take myself by the hand and walk myself forward.

I want to lie down next to me and tell myself stories about what happens afterward, how life changes, why I shouldn’t be afraid of myself, and why I should definitely stop trying so hard to fit in with everyone else. But, to that girl, buried in her day to day dramas of a changing body and a chaotic life, the gift of sitting next to her older self might not help at all. It could even land her in an insane asylum.

But, here we go anyway.

Listen Lisa, feathered hair looks ridiculous except on that “inappropriate” poster your uncle has of Farrah Faucet. Everyone eventually grows a pimple on the most embarrassing part of their body for the whole world to gawk at because this is what makes you human. Worry about wrinkles, trust me, they’re much worse. Your butt is perfect, perfect for roller skating, perfect for running, perfect for swimming, and perfect because you have a body and you’re not a boy. But, you don’t appreciate this because girls are told to starve themselves or forced to do so because advertising and fashion magazines say so. They blast it from their bony butts perched on their fake everything.

Lisa, if you would just listen to me, really listen with your soul, not just your ears, you’d understand that your lips don’t need to be enormous and red. You don’t need all those kids to like you. You don’t even need one. You’ve got a grandmother who one day will get sick and need you to take care of her like a baby, so enjoy her now. She’s your best friend. There’s a sister hanging out with some really mean girls and she needs a shoulder to cry on. There’s your mom, who loves you so much, but works too much to know how to show it anymore.

There are so many reasons to forget this teen drama and look to the beauty around you. Take my hand and remember this as you go through that.

You’ll thank me someday.

 

 

THIS WAS THE FIRST VERSION:

Snipping away at yourself makes for a difficult day, let alone life. A general glance strikes you as a hit with another’s eye. But, really, was it a glance at you or was it something else entirely? You don’t even consider that until years later when you’ve grown older and you realize these snippets never really mattered to anyone but you because, well, just because.

Teens, and often enough Tweens, live in a bubble built upon self-interest and self-conscous slaps to the face. They riddle themselves with bullets shiny and new–shiny because their “friends” polish them and new because it is new to them.

This age group which is about 11-17, sometimes as old as 18, roams around with so much pain because at the same time that their bodies are changing, they see the world for what it is, and it is not so pretty and sometimes neither are they.

If any of us adults could fast forward them ten years, we might be able to spare them all of this needless pain. We can rewind though for ourselves.

When I walk backward to that day when I found myself taller than the boy I liked, a pimple sprouting in the middle of my forehead, hair too frizzy to feather, voice to soft to cheerlead, butt too big to wear short shorts, lips too small to call sexy, I want to take myself by the hand and walk myself forward.

I want to lie down next to me and tell myself stories about what happens afterward, how life changes, why I shouldn’t be afraid of myself, and why I should definitely stop trying so hard to fit in with everyone else. But, to that girl, buried in her day to day dramas of a changing body and a chaotic life, the gift of sitting next to her older self might not help at all. It could even land her in an insane asylum.

But, here we go anyway.

Listen Lisa, feathered hair looks ridiculous except on that “inappropriate” poster your uncle has of Farrah Faucet. Everyone eventually grows a pimple on the most embarrassing part of their body for the whole world to gawk at because this is what makes you human. Worry about wrinkles, trust me, they’re much worse. Your butt is perfect, perfect for roller skating, perfect for running, perfect for swimming, and perfect because you have a body and you’re not a boy. But, you don’t appreciate this because girls are told to starve themselves or forced to do so because advertising and fashion magazines say so. They blast it from their bony butts perched on their fake everything.

Lisa, if you would just listen to me, really listen with your soul, not just your ears, you’d understand that your lips don’t need to be enormous and red. You don’t need all those kids to like you. You don’t even need one. You’ve got a grandmother who one day will get sick and need you to take care of her like a baby, so enjoy her now. She’s your best friend. There’s a sister hanging out with some really mean girls and she needs a shoulder to cry on. There’s your mom, who loves you so much, but works too much to know how to show it anymore.

There are so many reasons to forget this teen drama and look to the beauty around you. Take my hand and remember this as you go through that.

You’ll thank me someday

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Refrigerator Art Changed My Life

by Lisa Chesser

One-eyed aliens, giant butterflies, flying dragons, mermaids, superheroes, self-portraits and other masterpieces mask our aged refrigerator. Without that in my life, even my morning coffee wouldn’t make me happy.

All parents believe their child is the next Picasso or Frida Kahlo, but we also recognize the need to connect with our child. Their art connects to a part of the soul where words can’t. At least, that’s what I find when I reach for the refrigerator door.

Family

The first time my daughter handed me a drawing a surge of pride and euphoria swept through me. I rushed to the refrigerator as if it were a wall in an art gallery, quickly selected a worthy magnet, and surveyed its magnificence on the refrigerator door. She has come to see the refrigerator as a showcase for her talent and superior abilities, a confirmation that she is the best.

Now, she snatches a piece of typing paper from the printer, grabs a pen or crayon and waits to see where I will display her next masterpiece.

There are moments when I silently grumble that we never have paper in the printer when we need to print, but all I have to do is reach for the refrigerator door and those words never materialize.

Mom’s Day

Over the years, this refrigerator art gallery has boasted various works of art that expressed her momentary whims and our family’s unique attributes, always with a positive spin. At one point it displayed a portrait of myself accentuating my ultra-curly hair in an afro-like halo with rays of light spraying from my head. When I asked why she added the light, my daughter explained that I looked like the sun in the morning.

My whole perspective changed. I went from being a giant, frizzy-headed mess to the sun. The day I couldn’t find that drawing was the day I realized how much I couldn’t live without my children’s art. I began to value it and make sure that, when it came time to replace old art with new art, the old art had a place to stay. I created a scrapbook where I could slip the ones that meant the most to me.

The depth of meaning has grown over the years. Early one morning, still holding a grudge over an unresolved problem, I made my coffee then reached for milk from the refrigerator. I looked up and stopped. Strange creatures jumped from the door with their disproportionate necks and misshapen lips, kissing each other, flying and floating. Despite all the masterpieces I’ve seen in museums and galleries, I finally fully grasped the value of art. Art exists to remind us of the beauty we forget about while attempting to maneuver through the difficulties in life. Even if the art stands as a testament of our bad behaviors, it still magnifies the beauty we’ve disregarded.

Colorful

Once my son arrived, the art collection filled our house. The refrigerator art migrated to our walls and doors. One evening after a shower, I found his refrigerator art carefully taped to the hallway walls and bedroom doors. He proclaimed that the house was too boring and it needed some color. He placed each one at his eye-level—so I learned to look down for inspiration.

Butterfly Go

Eventually, I myself moved some of the artwork to my little nook in the corner of the dining room where I work. A brightly dressed ninja reminds me of the power to fight but to be careful about wardrobe choices. Two flowing girls, outlined in blue and red, tell me to overcome differences. A butterfly splashed with color spreads its wings across my magnetic bulletin board. I hear its voice say, “Open your wings Mama. You’re still a child inside.” And a turtle calls out, “Slow down!” So, I do. Each piece expresses a new discovery, a silent insight, and an imperceptible moment that I would’ve rushed past had it not been my own child who handed it to me.

Living without that, wouldn’t be living at all.