As a regular reader of my posts you may wonder, “How did this woman get so wise?” Well, I could tell you that with age comes wisdom and, after many years of parenting, I’ve learned a thing or two. However, the truth is I’ve been wise all my life. Yep, I came out of the womb filled with shrewd sensibilities.
Case in point: my sure-footed travels through Europe. No missteps there.
Before I begin, you need to know I studied Spanish in school. To my delight I became quite fluent, allowing me to travel to Mexico several times without fear of accidentally ordering flaming donkey poo with my chicken enchiladas. What it didn’t prepare me for was a three-year stint in Germany with my husband, Rick, who’d decided to join the Army.
We moved there during the summer of 1993, not long after The Wall came down. What’s ‘The Wall,’ you ask? Thus begins the gratuitously educational section of this post. (We’ll get to my wisdom later.)
When World War II ended in 1945, Europe was divided into two separate groups: the NATO countries and the Warsaw Pact countries. Here’s a map:
See Germany? It was the only country split in two, turning it into East Germany and West Germany. Mean, I know, but for some strange reason everyone was pretty mad at the Germans and just didn’t care.
Anyway, the NATO countries all had democratic governments, whereas the Warsaw Pact countries were tied to the Soviet Union, which was run by communists. Dirty, filthy communists! World War II had just ended, and already the Cold War had begun. Sigh.
What was the Cold War? Well, it wasn’t really a war, just a lot of tension, worry, and name-calling between the two sets of countries. This not only produced some totally awesome thriller spy movies, but the Berlin Wall -- a tall, cement wall that separated East Berlin from West Berlin -- and the ‘Iron Curtain’ -- a long, heavily guarded steel (not iron!) fence that separated the Eastern/Warsaw Pact countries from the Western/NATO ones. If the countries couldn’t play nice, they wouldn't play at all! Built by the Soviets, its main purpose was to keep Easterners in and Westerners out.
Now I won’t get into all of the politics, but I will tell you that people COULD NOT CROSS THAT FENCE. Military, diplomats, tourists from afar? Only through special checkpoints and if they had the right paperwork. Everyday citizens? No way. If they tried -- and some from the oppressive East side did – the Soviet guards were under orders to shoot them on sight. That’s the way things remained until 1989 when Soviet leadership crumbled and both the Wall and Iron Curtain were torn down.
Okay, history lesson over. Back to my infinite wisdom.
We’d just been stationed about 20 miles from the old East German/West German border in a town called Schweinfurt (translation: Pig Crossing. No joke.) We decided it’d be cool to drive up to the old border patrol checkpoints and see what was left. The short answer: not much.
Outside of an old tank trail and some heavy metal fencing, little of the area remained. Here’s a photo (and yes, that’s my husband looking all serious):
Anyway, even thought there wasn’t much to see, it was cool traipsing through the grass field, imagining what life was like just a few short years ago.
Oh! I forgot to mention something else we saw. Posted sporadically in the field were small white signs in German. They looked like this:
What did they say? Don’t ask me. Like I said, I knew Spanish, not German. So we did what most Americans do in a foreign country. We ignored them.
Flash forward three years. Our tour in Germany was wrapping up. We decided it’d be fun to go back to the border and see how much it’d changed. The short answer: not much.
But I had changed. I was not only pregnant, but fairly fluent in German. Hey, what do you know! I could read the signs!
Now my German is not what it used to be, so I’ll have to paraphrase, but they said a little something like this:
Entering and walking the field is forbidden!
Then they went on to inform us there were yet to be diffused landmines buried throughout the area.
It took us half an hour to walk the forty foot stretch back to our car.
Anyway, like I said, I’ve been wise all my life. Any other questions?
Map from the files of W.W. Norton & Co. Thanks!
Ugh. Boys your age are so immature, aren’t they? If you want a REAL relationship you need to date older guys. They’re so much more sensitive, more understanding, more…I don’t know. Grown up. Right?
Well, I’ve just got one thing to say to that:
First, let me set things straight. I’m not talking about seeing guys a year or two older than you. Three years? It starts to get questionable. A fourteen year-old dating a seventeen year-old doesn’t fly in my book, but a nineteen year-old dating a twenty-two year-old? Not a felony. But once that gap widens to four years, it gets creepy. Really creepy.
“But I’m wise beyond my years,” you say. “I can handle a real relationship.” That point I refuse to argue. In fact, for the purpose of this post, let’s assume you’re wiser than the Great Horned Owl. Well, guess what? It doesn’t matter. There’s no way you’re going have a ‘real relationship’ dating a guy who’s interested in a teen girl many years younger than himself.
You heard me:
This has nothing to do with you. It has EVERYTHING to do with HIM.
Sorry to break it to you, but a guy who dates younger girls isn’t the cream of the crop. You’d probably cringe if you met him when you were the same age. On top of that, there’s a really good chance that something’s seriously wrong with him – and I’m not talking ‘cute but troubled bad boy in math class’ kind of wrong. I’m talking ‘life is a total dead end and I want to take you with me’ kind of wrong. Either that or he thinks you’re an easy target. Strike that – regardless of whether there’s something really wrong with him or not, he thinks you’re an easy target.
As for you? Don’t think you’ll look cool with a way older guy on your arm. Truth is, girls who date way older guys look: a) slutty, b) clueless or (more than likely) c) all three at the same time. If your friends tell you otherwise, they’re either a) lying, b) slutty, c) clueless…you get the idea.
So next time an older guy comes up to you, acting all smooth and cool-like, just say, “Why don’t you date someone your own age?” Sure, they’ll counter with stuff like, “No girls my age are as hot as you,” or “Girls my age are too complicated.” But you’ll know the truth – it’s because they can’t. Either that or the whole ‘easy target’ thing and, trust me, playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey might have been fun as a kid, but getting pinned in the tail by a donkey?
Not so much.
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A reader contacted me about a problem so pervasive I found it necessary to respond right away. Here’s what she wrote:“When I am on the computer or laptop, my mother always tries to see what I am doing. It’s very annoying, and it makes me think that she cannot trust me, and I cannot trust her to not look at what I am doing.”My first instinct was to write an explanation for her mother's behavior ASAP in the Why Does Mom DO That? section.Okay, that’s a lie. My REAL first instinct was to ask, “What in the world is she doing on her computer that she doesn’t want her mom to see?” What can I say? I’m a mom, too. Anyway, after posting my answer I thought back to my days as a teenager. We didn’t have the internet – no emailing, Facebook or MySpace. No cell phones or texting, either. If we put anything of our thoughts in writing, it was in a diary stuffed under our mattress.
Personally, after about age 12 I chose not to have a diary. Why? Because the written word could be used as evidence – concrete, couldn’t be disputed evidence. If I had something snarky or damning on my mind, I sure as sugar wouldn’t write it down. I said it. To my friends. Whom I’d sell out if they passed it along to the wrong person.
My, how the world has changed. The social waters have grown darker and deeper, awash in a sea of text. Not good, my dearies, not good at all.
Let me explain via silly re-enactment:
The date: 1980
The time: 7:55 a.m.
The place: Right in front of Laura’s gym locker.
[LISA stomps up to LAURA with fire in her nostrils.]
LISA: Hey, Laura. Linda told me you said the only reason Luke’s dating me is because I’ve got big b00bs. Thanks a lot.
LAURA: What are you talking about? I told her I hoped he wasn’t just dating you on your appearance because you’re such a great person inside.
LISA: Oh…that’s different. Sorry.
Time and place: same
[LISA stomps up to LAURA with fire in her nostrils.]
LISA: I just talked to Linda. She showed me your text saying the only reason Luke’s dating me is because I ‘have b00bs the size of beachballs.’ Thanks a lot.
LAURA: I, er…ummm.
Difficult to dispute hard evidence, huh?
One of my favorite sayings is, “Life is tough. Life is tougher if you’re stupid.” It amazes me how many people are stupid enough to write certain things down. I’m not just talking about teenagers. Many an adult have been fired from their jobs due to emails they shouldn’t have written. Others have been fired for visiting…hmm, shall I say ‘interesting’ websites while they were on the job, too. Have you visited any websites that might cause your mom to stir? Just checking.
So think before your type. It’s not a hard rule to follow. It’ll keep you out of the defendant’s chair, too.
Photo credit link for gavel here
First, keep in mind I'm a mom. That's why it took me two months to see your latest video, Can’t be Tamed. Also keep in mind that my nine year-old son is the one that showed it to me. That's an important fact. Anyway, after careful review, I've got just one thing to say:
My, ho, my. When did you become a skank?
Not that the whole thing caught me by surprise. The signs were definitely there. Those cell phone photos with you lifting up your shirt? So classy. That Vanity Fair photo spread starring you and a bed sheet? So tasteful.
Catch the fan to the right's face.
And that pole dancing stint? So sweet. I kept wondering where your parents were during all of this. Then I remembered how they let your then twenty year-old boyfriend live at your house a couple of years back. You were what, fifteen? Great parenting there.
So now you’re all grown up at seventeen. Yippee. The folks at Disney have got to be thrilled, though I question whether you care. You’re probably sick of the whole Hannah Montana thing and worried your fans are, too. Truth be told, my teenager doesn’t watch your show anymore. Still, she thought “The Climb” was a pretty cool song. “Party in the U.S.A.” wasn’t bad either. But when she saw your latest video, she just rolled her eyes. I doubt that song will end up on her IPod. As for my nine year-old son who still watches the show? He said the video “weirded him out.” I think you just lost some fans. As for me? I’m just disappointed.
Tell me, did you think dressing and acting that way makes you look more adult? Because, frankly, you just look like jailbait. And though, yes, there are women who dress that way, they’re usually out for hire or very desperate.
Miley, you’re looking desperate.
I know it’s hard to grow up under the spotlight, always worried when your fame will run out. Well, trust me, with the way you’re selling yourself right now? I have to say I’m worried. Worried that you’ll end up like the bird in the video -- in a cage, all alone, with no one bothering to peek in.
photos: fair use