XV


Fifteen. That word seems to be popping up around me a lot lately.

I realized the other day that Big K will be turning fifteen in five months and I’m beginning to wonder exactly what that particular age has in store for me as the parent of a fifteen year old boy. Boob obsession, obviously, but what else? I have no experience with fifteen year old boys. Wait. Strike that. I have no experience RAISING a fifteen year old boy. Not yet. In five years when Little K reaches this milestone I might be a bit more prepared. As it stands now… I’m clueless.

I remember
my brother at the age of fifteen. He was far too naïve. He was also a bit of a homebody, so there was no firstborn trailblazing done which, to my dismay, hindered my ability to go out and have as much fun as I would have liked when I reached the same age. An interesting note: We were in the United States, not Kenya, when my brother was 15 and again five years later when I was 15. We coordinated trips to the U.S. by school years (so as not to switch schools mid-year), not calendar years, and, both being born in August, our ages also coordinated with school years. Did that make sense? Point being, this expected trailblazing would not have been an issue in Kenya as there was really not much to do or places for us to go at that age; at least, not where we lived. A trip to the States, however, brought opportunity… and friends with cars… and members of the opposite sex that we hadn’t grown up with and known every minute of our lives. Still, my brother was a bit of a boring fifteen year old. He was busted for skipping school at one point. He ditched and spent his lunch money in the arcade playing video games. Ooooh. Rebel.

As mentioned recently,
my mother was fifteen when Elvis landed. She claims to have been indifferent to his presence on the planet. Still, she was a farm girl in a small town. A very, very small town. I am quite sure she was rather preoccupied with chores and her horse and school. I cannot confirm this with my grandparents, as they are no longer living, but I’m right. Of course I am!

I don’t know what my father was like at age 15, but how much trouble could a teenage boy get into in 1957 in Van Buren, Arkansas? My uncle has provided me with a few stories and I know my father, who now holds a PhD in Theology, was no saint. I could probably ask him. Dad is a bit of a straight shooter but his personality in general is so far removed from my eldest that to compare them would be a lesson in futility. And… I may learn some things about my father I would rather not know.

My ex was a bit of a dork at fifteen. He knows it.

What about me? Age 15? In truth, I am more than a bit surprised that I made it to sixteen. I. Was. Atrocious. Granted, I could have been much, much, much worse. I didn’t do any drugs. I didn’t end up in juvenile hall. I didn’t partake of any adult beverages and my virginity survived. I snuck out the house from time to time and I went to a concert while “sleeping over” with a friend. I put a behemoth of a bitchy chick in her place via my fist when she decided to assault my 5’2” best friend (Note to small framed teenage girls with a penchant for getting into catfights with much larger girls over stupid boys: Befriend the tomboy. It may save your life.) and I discovered older guys kissed better (aforementioned best friend was daughter of Lieutenant Colonel at local Air Force base). In a year where all the girls my age (All. Of. Them.) wore jean jackets covered in buttons with celebrity pictures or pithy little sayings and worshiped… WORSHIPED… New Kids On The Block, I fostered a love affair with the color black (Clothes. Room décor. Everything.) and wallpapered my room with posters of Jon Bon Jovi and Sebastian Bach. How my “I didn’t like Elvis” mom weathered my penchant for rock really, freaking loud music is still a mystery. No, none of these things were so terrible. It was my attitude that was the real problem. I find I cannot elaborate adequately. There simply are no words. We suspect, logically so, that my Bipolar Disorder truly began its ugly manifestations that year. It explains a lot; though I’m quite sure all the blame does not go there. I was a mouthy, rude, and obnoxious fifteen year old bitch. Note: I was also living with my parents for the entire year. A novelty. At this point in my life I had already spent three school years at boarding school. I was accustomed to being rather self sufficient and didn’t particularly care for their (rightful) interference into my life.

In truth, the year didn’t start off too bad. No, the summer I turned fifteen could be summed up quite easily by the words of Taylor Swift. No, I’m not a fan (see above reference to Skid Row), but I do have to give her some props. She’s had a helluva year and, like I said earlier, that “Fifteen” word is everywhere. That song is everywhere, and… I did have my very first date. He did have a car. I did have my first kiss. He did tell me he loved me and, yes, I believed him. Awwwww. Sweet.

Fifteen also brought the added bonus of a growth spurt. Just when everyone thought I would be five feet tall forever… I grew six inches in ten months and, thank the universe, suddenly had boobs. I left Kenya the summer of 1989 short and scrawny. I came back the summer of 1990 and very few people (including those I had known since birth) recognized me at first glance. No lie. It. Was. Awesome. Thank you, fifteen.

“To look almost pretty is an acquisition of higher delight to a girl who has been looking plain for the first fifteen years of her life than a beauty from her cradle can ever receive.” ~Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

I am not entirely positive I’m ready to relive fifteen through Big K. He’s already kind of a lot moody and way, way, way, WAY too much like me in sarcastic attitude and penchant for snark though his taste in tunes is far more tame. Anyone want to take bets on which one of us comes out of the next few years alive?

5 comments:

  1. Wow. 15. My first foray into American public school. First time in years we'd lived together as a family. But I learned to drive. And my sister and I bought a car. I wanted the whole "Sixteen Candles" experience and I was sadly disappointed. No parties. No hot guy in the end. And everyone was obsessing over U2 while I was still listening to Skid Row, Bon Jovi, Duran Duran and AC/DC. I really, really wanted to be a rebel but I was utterly clueless. Turns out I was just a late bloomer...the rebellion and self-destruction showed up in my 20's.

    Anyway...no advise on Big K. Sorry. I'm just hoping to get through the toddler years unscathed...and you can sit back and laugh the laugh of one who has seen the darkness, faced it head on and told it to eff off when I head into the teenage years.

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  2. Oh I bet you did give your folks a run for their money Beth...

    My advice would be 'duck and cover' - I'll let you guys decide who that advice is for..... =)

    Lis

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  3. OMG!!! What a great post!
    Thanks for sharing all of that, it was wonderful to read about you from days gone by!
    Sounds like we would have gotten along pretty good at 15 as well!
    CANT BELIEVE YOU POSTED A PICTURE OF Sebastian Bach.... the sexiest LIPS EVER!!!!

    You're awesome, Darlin.

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  4. Dori ~ Only... you will have a teenage GIRL too. The horror.

    Lis ~ Duck and cover. Got it.

    Michele ~ Isn't is awesome. I know he's a diva, but I love Bas. Always have. Always will. Oy! You'll have a teenage girl too. From this I have been saved. Whew!

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  5. I enjoyed reading that...made me nostalgic for being 15 again...if only for a moment! Hilarious pic of JBJ...loved him at 15, despite the poodle hairdo :-)

    Good luck with Big K....

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"Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?" ~Walt Whitman

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