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The Standley Lake High School Tragedy: Sending my kids to school should not be an act of courage

Editor’s Note: Mile High Mamas’ longtime blogger Gretchen’s teenagers had a brush with tragedy yesterday–both are students at Standley Lake High School where a student set himself on fire. Do not miss her must-read post.

I set off on this snowy, brittle afternoon to pick up my K-8 kids from school. The roads were smeared with dirty ice and winds shoved the van. It felt precarious, like the whole day, a slick white tightrope between home and my kids, elsewhere. I was glad to get to them, to bring us all under one roof safe again, until tomorrow. I’ve said this before, and the time has come to say it again:

It shouldn’t be an act of courage to send your kids to school.

A song came on the radio. It was John Mayer’s No Such Thing. It’s about high school and not fitting in. It’s about having hopes beyond being Prom King and Queen. It’s about biding time.

I wanna run through the halls of my high school
I wanna scream at the
top of my lungs.
I just found out there’s no such thing as the real world
Just a lie you got to rise above.

No Such Thing, John Mayer.

I drove slowly and thought about how my kids—HEY!—just this morning, ran through the halls of their high school and people screamed at the top of their lungs. That there is the real world, folks.

A 16-year-old boy set himself on fire in the cafeteria as the school day started  CLICK TO KEEP READING

So, Your Kid Wants to Drive: How to Get a Learner’s Permit

Your kid wants to drive. Say no.

Tell him driving is for creepers, griefers, and trolls. Driving will give him acne in his armpits and make him smell like thrift shop zebra-striped leggings. Ask your teen if this is a good thing. Do whatever you can to dissuade your personal youngster from climbing behind a steering wheel. Just kidding.

Good parents set kids free to explore and drive to babysitting jobs, solo. Also, I hear driving children come in very handy when you’re cooking dinner and discover you’re fresh out of canned button marinated parsnips.

I have a daughter of driving age. She will be 16 this summer, but wasn’t interested in driving until very recently. Because of Colorado’s current licensing laws, she may not have her full license until she’s close to 17. All drivers must have a learner’s permit for one year, so we are just starting to navigate the infinite universe of DMV bureaucracy.

How a Teenaged Girl Grew a Beard and Liked It

Most 13-year-old girls do not have a beard.

But I did.

My junior high drama club held auditions for the Christmas play, called “Skullduggery At Santa’s Place.” I had to look up skullduggery in the dictionary when the play’s title was announced. The definition pleased me enough to sign up for the after-school audition.

I wanted the part of Cookie Claus, Santa’s beautiful daughter of marrying/kissing age. I poured all my energy into becoming Cookie, believing the part would launch me into a Love’s Baby Soft scented stratosphere of Junior High fame. I read my lines with delicate but passionate intensity, with a tinge of sweet spunk and the ability to swoon at the sight of the nearest imaginary but C. Thomas Howell-handsome Canadian Mountie.

Top 10 Things That Smell Better Than Your Teenaged Son’s Body Spray

I don’t know what Santa was thinking. Maybe he had sleigh-lag resulting in a lapse of judgment? He gave our 13-year-old son a gift set featuring a very popular body spray. Our son was bestowed with body wash, deodorant, and spray in a scent called Dark Temptation. He was happy with the gift, but seemed to forget about it until school started after winter break. We had to remind him, a regretful error we will mourn.

On school mornings, he’d emerge from his bedroom lair in the basement smelling of spicy swaggering confidence. At first, he controlled himself and applied the mist sensibly. Over time, however, it seemed like he wrapped himself in it like a mummy bundled in bandages. I began to smell him before I saw him. Opening the basement door meant being pummeled in the face by Dark Temptation. More than one morning, I had the dark temptation to meet him at the top of the stairs with the garden hose outfitted with power sprayer set on 10. You know, the setting that will chip paint off the side of your house.

It worsened when I discovered I was pregnant.

The Teenage Years: They Happen to the Best of Us

With Mother’s Day this month, I find myself taking a look back through all the years I’ve been a mother. I’ve officially decided that once you have children, time moves at double speed. I can so vividly recall those precious, magical days when my teenage daughter was a toddler – heck, I have SHOES older than her – that I can’t really believe I’m coming up on my 15th year of motherhood.

People always joke about how hard it is to raise teenagers, and I’d like to set the record straight on that: I had NO IDEA. In addition to my oldest, I have two sets of twins who are seventeen months apart in age. I had four kids in diapers for YEARS. I have a child with autism. In other words, I feel like I’ve earned a few Mommy Merit Badges! But among all the parenting challenges I’ve faced, nothing compares to dealing with the drama and angst of a 14-year-old girl. I only hope that when my four little ones all hit their teens around the same time, I will have gained a substantial amount of wisdom in this area.

When my daughter was a little girl, she was the most well-behaved, mellow child. I remember seeing mouthy teenagers and feeling relieved – smug, really – that MY daughter would never be a disrespectful little drama queen. Oh, how wrong I was. Like all teenagers, she speaks fluent sarcasm. She fights with her best friend over petty, ridiculous things, and when they don’t speak because of it, she acts as if somebody died. Then they make up by saying “hey” to each other at school and sharing a bag of Skittles, like nothing ever happened. She has crushes on boys based on how they wear their hair and what they have on their iPod. And if I gave her the choice between spending a weekend at Disneyland with her family or hanging out at the mall with her friends, I guarantee she would choose the mall.

I’ve tried to convince my daughter that I’m cool enough to still hang out with occasionally. I’ve even reminded her that I listened to Green Day before she was even born, but she’s not convinced. My sweet little girl has abandoned me to join a gang of Twilight-obsessed adolescents in skinny jeans – which is exactly what she’s supposed to do at this stage of her life. She has to test boundaries in order to learn life lessons. She has to