If I have a teenager, why am I still taking baby steps?

by Marinka on January 9, 2012

I am so not ready.

I blame everyone for not preparing me.

My daughter is 13 and she wants more freedom.

Probably because it’s another word for nothing left to lose.

She wants to go out with her friends, to walk around the stores, window shop, buy hair products, go to Starbucks.

And I, thanks to some well-dosed medication, am mostly okay with that.

Because I know that in the history of the universe forbidding teens from normal activities that make parents anxious has never worked.

Not once.

But of course teens push limits. Of course they do.

Last week, for example, my daughter wanted to go out to dinner with her girlfriend. IN THE EVENING.




Ok, so it was dark but only 6 p.m., and the restaurant in Greenwich Village was three blocks from our house, but still: dark! dinner! Friday night! Greenwich Village!

I almost passed out.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“Oh come on!” she said, struggling not to roll her eyes. “I’ll text you when we get there.”

So I said yes. Because I figured that if we lived in suburbia, she’d be hanging out at the mall, where the risk of her getting a French manicure would increase dramatically.

At least we’re safe from that in NYC.

I think that’s why so many people move here.

So I said yes because it was on that cusp of discomfort for me. Not the full on oh no reaction that I often get. I decided to trust it.

Except after they left I started to panic.

Fortunately that’s when Husbandrinka came home.

He has a way of calming my nerves, of making me feel like I’m over-reacting and everything will be just fine. A rock, that one.

“You did what?!” he asked when I told them that I let the girls go out to dinner by themselves.

“Well– it’s just a few blocks away–” I started putting my defense together.

“I don’t know, honey,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a good idea.” (It’s true. He calls me honey. Because I’m sweet. And don’t answer to Ball And Chain.)

“What?! Really?” I asked, in full panic mode. “Why not?”

“Because they’re just kids,” he told me, although unfortunately not referring to Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. “They don’t know how to tip properly.”

Let’s rewind, shall we.

They don’t know how to tip properly.

That is my husband’s concern when his only daughter goes out to dinner in the dark! by herself (ok with a friend, if you’re suddenly a math major who must count every person)! on Friday night! in Greenwich Village!

So I did what any normal person would do.

I went out to a bar.

That was directly across the street from the restaurant where my daughter was.

And I had a glass of wine while keeping an eye on the place.

I couldn’t see her, of course, I’m not Jaimie Sommers.

But I felt better being there, just across the street.

Baby steps.

One year ago ...

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

ladyday January 9, 2012 at 1:34 am

Awwww, you’re so cute! And I can’t believe the mother of a 13 year old (baby!) is old enough to make a Jaimie Sommers reference, lol.

But for shame, you are city parents and you haven’t schooled your children in the fine art of tipping? It’s a shanda!


January 9, 2012 at 7:51 am

I would have done the same thing.

That totally reminds me of my son’s first fieldtrip in kinder to the zoo. Although I didn’t sign up to chaperone I did go to the zoo in hopes of seeing him. Baby steps.


Alexandra January 9, 2012 at 8:19 am

OH MY GOSH and I thought it was only Colombians that were like that.

It’s ALL Of us immigrants??

Motherhood in NYC: bringing people together through enlightenment.

I think I have to start praying for you now b/c just wait until they take the car out alone for the first time.

I swear I lost 5 lbs from the sh*ts that gave me.


Marinka January 9, 2012 at 3:06 pm

I am not kidding about this: one of the reasons that I wanted to raise kids in NYC is that teens don’t drive in the city. Of course they also don’t breathe in clean air, but trade offs, you know!


Ester Jean January 10, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Wow, I never thought of what Mom thought when I drove by myself for the “first time” (shhh… I had a car for 2 years before I had my license – you think I didn’t sneak out in that thing?). …Although I really SHOULD have known how she might be feeling because of what a nervous, jumpy wreck she was when she was in the passenger seat. Man, I am going to HATE being the mom of a teenager!


Anna Lefler
January 9, 2012 at 8:30 am

You are so not alone in the panic.

As the owner/operator of a 13-year-old girl myself, I can tell you I’m exactly the same place.

Luckily you can’t walk ANYWHERE in Los Angeles.




Marinka January 9, 2012 at 3:07 pm



Jodi January 9, 2012 at 9:14 am

Please, don’t write another post like this. I have a 2-year-old and if I begin to ponder future baby steps like evening outings (!) and car driving (!!), I think I’ll run out the front door and move somewhere far away.


Mama Kat January 9, 2012 at 9:36 am

I’m enjoying this image of you sipping a cocktail while staring at a restaurant across the street. I’m just sorry I wasn’t there to enjoy it with you. Sounds like a good time!

…What has my life come to?


Marinka January 9, 2012 at 3:08 pm

if you came along, we could be like Charlie’s Angels, on a secret mission. To get drunk.


January 9, 2012 at 9:47 am

I remember the very first time my mother let me ride the bus to the mall with a friend. I was eleven and it was a 20 minute bus ride, with a transfer at the bus station.

Wouldn’t you know who just happened to be in the mall shopping that very afternoon…

And dare I admit that I often take little walks around the block whenever my girls go out bike riding … for my health of course!


Marinka January 9, 2012 at 3:08 pm

It’s exhausting, isn’t it. And definitely interferes with fine TV viewing.


Ester Jean January 10, 2012 at 10:21 pm

I figured “They interfere with fine TV viewing” would be somewhere on the list of “Reasons My Kidsรขโ‚ฌโ„ข Bedtime Should Be 6:30 p.m. EST.” Did I call it or what?


Wendy January 9, 2012 at 10:09 am

Well you could’ve texted her and just reminded her how to figure out the tip on her cellphone…or I think some cellphones come with a tip manager ๐Ÿ™‚

I so would’ve done the same thing sitting across the street but I would’ve ordered a jack and coke…I’m not classy enough for wine


January 9, 2012 at 10:25 am

I am shocked by this post. According to Twitter, you’re still in Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet, and they do not allow wine. Who do I call in South Beach to report you to?


Marinka January 9, 2012 at 3:09 pm

They don’t allow wine except in cases of medical emergencies. Obviously you’re not a doctor.


annie January 9, 2012 at 10:46 am

Did you at least tip well for your wine??


magpie January 9, 2012 at 10:52 am

they don’t know how to tip. huh. something i never thought about teaching a child – probably because i don’t really know how to tip…


Megan January 9, 2012 at 10:53 am

I cannot even imagine my 13-year-old going to dinner with friends. Of course, he’s a boy, and everyone knows they rarely get past 10.

I have to assume she survived, and did not get chased down the street by the server for leaving a rotten tip, so all’s well that ends well!


joeinvegas January 9, 2012 at 11:39 am

So you didn’t get to see the boys they were meeting?


Ester Jean January 10, 2012 at 10:27 pm

stinker ๐Ÿ™‚


Loukia January 9, 2012 at 12:18 pm

I totally would have done the same thing, too. And men are so weird, sometimes, with THEIR concerns.
Many years ago, (I was 20) my mom was rushed to the hospital because she lost her vision in her right eye. She had something called optic neuritis, and after a few days in the hospital, her vision returned. HOWEVER, at first, no doctor knew what the F was going on. My dad came rushing from work, my sister had just met us at the hospital from doing her hair – highlights for the first time – and we were all there worried, about my mom and the fact that she was BLIND, thinking the worst.
My dad, the first thing he said? “GINA? YOU PUT HIGHLIGHTS IN YOUR HAIR?”
Yeah… men.


Roxanne January 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm

So…did they leave a good tip?


Schill January 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm

LOL…this is great! Glad to see that I’m not alone wading through the murky waters of parenting a teenager.


January 9, 2012 at 2:40 pm

I now live in Suburbia, and there’s no way I’m letting my daughters hang out at the mall when they’re 13. I don’t know that I’ll ever be ready for that.

And your husband’s comment made me snort my hot tea. Thanks a lot.


January 9, 2012 at 3:13 pm

I saw the movie New Years Eve, which you know, while dumb was perfect chick flick dumb. Anyway, it was of course based in NYC and there was a mom that basically stalked her kid everywhere. She just followed them around and when they’d see her, she’d turn and run. It was hysterical.

I will now forever think of you when I see the movie.

On the other hand, I’d probably have done the same thing you did. Truly. I’m so not ready for my kids to become teens.


Joycelyn January 9, 2012 at 3:52 pm

I live in the burbs, and I have boys…but there is NO way I would let them go to the mall to hang out with friends. Seriously, they are just too dumb for their own good at this age. ( they are 13 and almost12)
I am JUST about ready to let them walk 3blocks to the “corner store” and pick up milk. My only girl, who is seven, may never get to leave the house…
This parenting thing is hard


January 9, 2012 at 8:12 pm

i love your husband’s reaction. AND i hope the waitress got a good tip.

cute story!


January 9, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Weeks before we sent the girl hundreds of miles and several states away for boarding school, she wanted to walk up to the store a block or two away. Across a busy street.

I did not want to let her, until the husband pointed out that she would shortly be moving to a new city, next to a giant metropolis, and if I wasn’t comfortable with her walking down the street to the 7-11 with a friend, then maybe I should rethink my parenting.

I hate when he is right.

[Could you at least hear her with your bionic Jamie Somers hearing?]


the mama bird diaries
January 9, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Any excuse to go out and have a glass of wine is good parenting in my book.

I’m proud of you for letting go just a little.


deb January 9, 2012 at 10:48 pm

my son is a freshman in the burbs. he is young for his grade and many of his friends are 15. driving looms and I DREAD it. he walks regularly to subway from school or our house. i worry because there are 4-6 lanes of traffic to cross, depending on where he does it. I’ve gotten used to it, but the first time he went, I secretly followed him. glad to know i’m not alone!


January 10, 2012 at 6:40 am

Oh my Marinka the Spy…I see a book in your future.


dusty earth mother January 10, 2012 at 10:36 am

“They don’t know how to tip properly.” Dying over here.


Cindy January 10, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Thank you for the tip. The tip on spying on my daughters while sipping…no, gulping…wine. And the tip on making sure they know how to tip. Because I’ll be watching/spying. I feel the same as you with letting go, letting girls grow.
My oldest is almost 12. We are drowning in suburbia blandness. She tentatively posed this question to me recently: “If some friends ask me to be dropped off with them at the mall (they are open air/outdoor malls here), WITHOUT YOU, would you let me?”. I threw up a little in my mouth and said, “maybe?” .
Marin is so responsible and I trust her….it is some of her BFFs that I’m not thrilled with. And those strange boys who check her out.
Micro chipping is in my future. I have 3 girls. And throwing up in my mouth is gross.


Teddi B January 17, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Please, please teach me your ways. I can’t get my 13-year-old son out the door to play basketball in our driveway. He’s already asked if he can live with me after college . . . I think it’s great that you sat across the street at a bar. Just one correction, Jamie Sommers had bionic hearing, not vision. That was Steve Austin.


Raquel February 6, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Wait, I thought gratuity was normally (sneakily) already added on. Btw, glad I found your blog. ๐Ÿ™‚ Found you through mommyshorts, whom I found through bearded iris – motherhood wtf – naps happen. So many funny mommies!


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