Sunday, March 30, 2014

Smart Fun

          I’ve taught my daughters to have smart fun (at least I hope so!). Case in point: Lexi’s sweet 16 birthday party. Over 50 people attended her party, which was held at a friend’s house in a sleepy neighborhood along a golf course in Suntree, and the teens called it the best party of the year with some saying it was the best party they’d ever been to. They danced, talked, ate, and played games all evening. No drugs, no alcohol, and no smoking. Just good, clean fun! The DJ, Lexi’s dance instructor, was also a police officer, so the party had built-in protection.
          As one of the few adult chaperones, I watched everyone and discovered an interesting phenomenon: many of the public high school students who came to the party (Lexi’s friends from dance) didn’t appear to enjoy the party as much as everyone else for two reasons that I could see. First, they were way too self-conscious, too worried about what everyone else would think and how everyone else might judge them. Not that the homeschooled teens didn’t have doubts, but that they felt comfortable or confident enough to push through those doubts and enjoy the evening. Secondly, many of public school teens arrived partnered up. They brought their boyfriends, and then sat in the corner on their boyfriends’ laps, watching everyone else have fun.
          An important life lesson: you don’t need to have a boyfriend/girlfriend in order to go to a party and have a good time. In fact, you might have more fun going with friends and letting loose.
          This particular party ended at midnight, and just before the witching hour, a cop knocked on the door to make sure that all was well. Luckily, we had the DJ/cop angle to smooth things over, and we were ending the party anyway so everything worked out. It’s not a party until someone calls the cops, the teens joked, but they learned that if you are having clean fun and if you respect those around you, nothing bad happens when the cop shows up.
When we moved to Brevard County over four years ago, Lexi was a homeschooled teenager, and I didn’t want her to miss out on the social aspects of high school like the school dances. So, I worked with another mom, and we put together some homeschool dances. Again, 50 teens, dancing, talking, eating, playing games, having so much fun! Once we had a DJ (same wonderful one) and other times we used a playlist. Whatever we did, the teens had a blast. Lexi began attending the public high school dances for her junior and senior years, and she agrees with the others who said that the dances we threw were much better; however, she is glad that she attended the public school dances for the experience. After all, we never forget our prom nights.
Lexi just told me last night that I would be happy to hear that she stayed in and didn’t go out with her friends. Darling daughter, you missed the entire point of smart fun. I want you to go out with friends, to explore the city, to travel the world. I want you to be adventurous and try new things. Always.
A couple of years ago, I didn’t feel like the girls and I were communicating well regarding hanging out with friends; they thought that I didn’t want them to go out with friends, and I thought that they were being disrespectful. I believed this was an extremely important issue to communicate with them because the friends we choose colors everything else in our lives. So another life lesson: choose good friends! Be very picky about who you hang out with. As the saying goes, we become like the five people we hang out with the most. And, I like how a family friend puts it: YOU are valuable, and the most treasured thing that you have to give is YOU and your time. So, choose wisely. As a mom, I worry, and as a mom in this crazy world, I really worry, and as a single mom, I worry even more. So, I typed up a “contract” that we all agreed on and printed off copies for each of us. Here it is:
Going out with Friends Respectful Boundaries
1.     I WANT you to have time with friends, to hang out with friends, to have fun with friends.
2.    I TRUST you!!! You are amazing, and you will make good choices. Any mistakes you make you will learn from.
3.    It is imperative that you COMMUNICATE with me in a respectful way. Be polite and respectful in your tone and text messages. Please ask before inviting friends over here and before making plans with friends (check the family calendar, etc.). Text me who you are with and where you are because that helps me to not worry. Be home by midnight unless we have agreed on an earlier or later time for some reason.
4.    It is important that FAMILY comes first, including YOU. That means that you do your homework and chores, your RESPONSIBILITIES, BEFORE hanging out with friends. That also means that you incorporate FAMILY time every week or weekend. This is also about having BALANCE in your life.
5.    RESPECT yourself and your own boundaries. Be YOU because you are BEAUTIFUL, AMAZING, INTELLIGENT, TALENTED, and simply WONDERFUL!!
Now I want to reiterate another important life lesson for my daughters: have fun in a smart way! In fact, I review the smart rules with them anytime I drop them off somewhere (county fair, mall, beach, party, etc.), and yes, I also share these rules with their friends. Now that Lexi is going to college in New York City, I review them with her over the phone. If she calls and asks my input, “Mom, should I go out and do X?” Hell, yeah! And, remember the smart rules.
1. Have good, clean fun (which means nothing illegal; for instance, no alcohol, drugs, or smoking). Once you turn 21, enjoy a glass of wine or a bottle of beer if you like, but don’t get wasted. Confession time: I’ve never been drunk. Tipsy, yes. Plastered, no. It’s interesting because anytime any group of friends hears that the first thing they say is that they want to get me drunk (and this includes any church groups I’ve been part of). Even as an adult, I’ve been pressured to give in and get bombed, but you know what, I don’t need to. I honestly believe that I can have fun, a better time even, when sober. Sure, I enjoy having a drink every once in a while; it’s relaxing and lowers inhibitions, but I still know who I am, what I believe, what I am doing, and why I am doing it. Plus, I won’t be the one sick and hung over the next morning, wasting that fresh day.
 2. Stay safe (which means to only go places with friends you can trust, always stay with your group, don’t even go to the bathroom alone, never take drinks from anyone, and never set your drink down unattended and then drink out of it).
3. Stay healthy (which means to take care of yourself on a regular basis, get enough sleep on a weekly basis, eat healthy overall, take good vitamins, etc.). The important thing is what you do most of the time; set a strong foundation for yourself and your world.
4. Always remember who you are and what you believe in. I am a woman of worth and strength and integrity. Say it! Remind yourself every day. When you operate from that truth, then you will try new things and live a courageous and incredible life; however, you will not be swayed by peer pressure or societal expectations or anything other than the truth that you stand on. Along with that comes trusting your instincts.
But whatever you do, be bold, live, and have smart fun! As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Life must be lived and curiosity kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn [her] back on life.”
A friend mentioned that I should share the “smart fun” idea with others through my blog, hence this post. J Do you do something similar with your teens or have other similar ideas that work well? I would love to hear your thoughts!


  1. Your daughters are indeed beautiful, wonderful, talented, smart, and a joy to be around!

  2. Thanks Rachel, for those clearly articulated 2 lists that I Word-edited to print in 2 sheets. That's what I've been saying and thinking while its falling on deaf ears of a headstrong, invisible teen. Now it's written & posted for all to see. Great picture of Lexi. Miss you!

    1. I hope it helps you, Heather. The teen years aren't, yes, but not easy, especially doing it alone. Hugs!