Hurricane 16 prepares to make landfallWritten by Shannon Szyperski | | firstname.lastname@example.org
In the wee hours of Aug. 26, 1992, my mom, my dad, my two brothers and I watched Louisiana await the arrival of Hurricane Andrew as we awaited the arrival of our next generation. The awkward cat naps we had to take in rotation on the waiting room’s vinyl couch were well worth being there the moment my brother-in-law first uttered the words “It’s a girl.” Addison Lyn — my sister’s first child, my parents’ first grandchild, my first niece — arrived right on schedule. I was 16 years old and proud as could be.
I tried to juggle my new duties as an aunt with my teenage duties of listening to music and spending countless hours with my friends. It was difficult to fit a small child into my busy schedule, but I think I did my best. It certainly became easier over the next few years, as my teenage angst waned and I fully began to enjoy life again, especially family.
Four more nieces, five nephews and two of my own children later, I am now beginning to watch some of the young people in our family face those teenage years. Fortunately for me, they’re no longer my teenage years. I did my time. It is my turn to be the aunt hearing the secondhand accounts of the adventures and misadventures of each teenager dangling from our family tree. Not until I became an aunt did I realize all of the humiliating anecdotes my own mother most certainly must have been relaying to my aunts over the years. Blush.
I have to take my opportunity to be cliché and insist that things have changed since my teenage days. Take, for instance, the group of skateboarding young men that I often have to swerve around while driving down my street. From what I gather by observing them, black clothing and shaggy hair are still acceptable badges of teenage apathy. However, the baggy pants I left behind in 1994 seem to have morphed into the skinniest pants I’ve ever seen. Where I come from (1994), skinny pants on a skater boy (or anyone else for that matter) are an absolute no-no. Due to my antiquated sense of fashion, I am forced to giggle every time I pass them by.
We also didn’t have email or instant messaging or text messaging. We only had the telephone. It was a landline, and we liked it. Of course, if we would have had all of the things teenagers have today we certainly would have liked those, too.
One thing that hasn’t seemed to change is the nature of the teenager. When a now-teenaged Addison spends the night at our house, she is always the last to bed and the last to rise (my husband being a close second). When she stays over, my kids and I usually sneak out early in the morning and snag a special treat of doughnuts for breakfast. This last overnight, however, she requested that we wake her early so that she could go to the bakery with us. Once we were close to ready, I sent my 5-year-old in to wake her.
Jack returned quickly to inform me that she curiously did not awaken despite his prodding. I told him to give it another try. A few minutes later he returned quite exasperated and reported that this time she had awakened but was now “just sitting reading a book.” To my donut-loving, dressed-in-two-minutes little boy reading a book instead of getting ready for the bakery was an obvious breech of etiquette and was highly inappropriate.
When he asked me for an explanation, I really didn’t have much to offer other than “she’s a teenager.” He left it at that but didn’t seem to buy it any more than he had the night before as an answer to why she wasn’t all that into ImagiNext or Pokemon. As much as he loves her, he doesn’t understand her. He didn’t hold her as a baby, and he has yet to be a teenager himself. He doesn’t realize just how lucky we are that she cares to spend time with us at all.
It truly does seem like a blink of an eye since that August day when Hurricane Andrew and my first niece made landfall. She will be 16 years old this week, and I am still proud as can be.
Shannon Szyperski and her husband Michael are raising two children in Sylvania. E-mail her at email@example.com.