Just a few differences between my daughter, Ashlyn, who turns 16 today, and myself, who was 16, some almost 22 years ago:
Ashlyn: Scared to death of driving and has no urge to even begin Drivers Ed or her state-mandated 50 hours of adult supervised driving; would much rather mooch rides from me, Kenin, her grandparents, friends, or her boyfriend. This girl will be right at home in the back of a limo should she ever be able to afford one.
Me: Although I was in the nut house on my 16th birthday, at the age of 14 (or was it 15?) I'd already 'borrowed' my parents car (and one belonging to a friend or two as well) and had driven with only my learners permit (and certainly no adult) all around the city of Augusta (GA) and the confines of Ft. Gordon. No, I never got caught by the cops, but feel the need to apologize to my brother, Tom, who got blamed for the time that I parked too close to the curb and ripped the air plug thing from the tire, resulting in the flattest tire ever seen in Kings Chapel Court.
Ashlyn: Has a FABALUSS relationship with her mother (AKA me), if I do say so myself. We talk about EVERYTHING, we bond (particularly over TV and food), and we hang out. She actually likes me, so I've decided to keep her. At least until she turns 18.
Me: Had a not-so-good relationship with my step-mom at the age of 16. Not-so-good is actually much better than my relationship with her prior to me being in the nut house. Don't get the idea that she was an evil stepmonster or anything, because she wasn't. I was just a butthead. The big turning point for me? When Ashlyn was born, my step-mom (now just known as MOM, 'cause she IS) accepted Ashy as her own grandchild. She's a great lady, and I love her bunches.
Ashlyn: Petite, skinny, and disgustingly shapely little stick of a child who eats, or grazes, all the time. I don't know who she got it from, 'cause I never looked like her when I was growing up, or even anytime after that. Ashy actually TRIES to gain weight if she goes below 105. How cool is that? Anorexia is NOT in her future. Her typical order from McDonalds (her favorite food place and where she works. Convenient, no?) is a Southwest Chicken Salad with extra dressing if you please, a Hot n' Spicy Chicken sandwich (or sammich, as we Southerners like to say) with extra lettuce and extra mayo, and a large strawberry shake. She complains her boobs are too small, but I keep telling her that at least they won't sag to her belly button when she gets older.
Me: An average sized child until about the age of 10 or so, I began to pack on the pounds after my mother died. I was a plump teenager (having the munchies during my druggie years prior to the nut house years didn't help much, either) and managed to become a plump adult. With the exception of a year before I got pregnant with Ashlyn and the year before I got pregnant with Hunter, I've always had a little extra skin hanging around. Since I can no longer have kids, I can't imagine I'll ever be slender again. Not that I'm complaining (much). I have to admit, Ashy definitely got her enjoyment of food from me.
Ashlyn: Works at McDonalds and actually LIKES it, and not just for the almost free food that she gets. She looked for a job for several months before she could find someone who would hire her, since she was only 15 at the time, and was thrilled to finally get hired. She worked her first Mickey D's birthday party last weekend, and her manager said that she wants her to do all the parties from now on. She's also training people, so she must be doing okay. I'm glad she likes it, but will most definitely have a fit if she were to become a manager. She also VOLUNTEERED to work this summer with me during the last week of ESY (Extended School Year, or summer school) with special needs kids. How many 15 year olds do you know that have been hired by the 2nd largest school district in Colorado to work with special needs kids? Do you not see how wonderful my daughter is?
Me: Although I was in the nut house at 16 (are you seeing the trend?), my first job was at the age of 15 and was at one of the Augusta-based chain of KFC-type restraunts called Wife Saver. They had good food, especially their shrimp, which you might not expect at a chicken place. But, alas, the shrimp and paychecks were not enough to keep me employed there for more than a couple of months. The lure of hanging out at the bowling alley (Of course, I didn't actually bowl. That would have been un-cool.) and smoking on the steps of the skating rink with my so-called friends was too much. I was too lazy to want to work, and would have most certainly killed any children that came in for a birthday party had they offered that as an option.
So, as you can see, Ashlyn is an incredible young lady. She is the light of my life and I'm so proud that she is so much like me, but so much not like me, too. I love her more than anything, and hope that all parents are lucky enough to enjoy their own children as much as I enjoy mine. Ashlyn, you rock.