It’s official. As of this week, I am the mother of two teenagers. My son turned 13 on Wednesday. My daughter is now 15. Wow. Where on earth did that time go?
It seems like you turn around and your children, and the children they’ve been with since kindergarten – or in some cases Lamaze – are suddenly, inexplicably tall, somewhat mature, pretty, handsome and well-mannered when out in public. It’s nuts.
I had the good fortune this week to chaperone an eighth-grade field trip to Book Passage in Corte Madera. Led by brave and beloved Adele Harrison Middle School Language Arts teacher, Kathy Eschleman, the tribe of students entered the lecture late due to traffic difficulties. Their seating was reserved thanks to Adele mother, Marguerita Castanera, who runs special events at the store and has for some 20 odd years.
The guests of honor at the lecture and book signing event were Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry, co-authors of the wildly popular Starcatcher series of books. Those familiar with Barry’s work as a columnist are probably starting to smile envisioning him in front of a group of students. For his part, Ridley is no slouch in the humor department either.
Together they walked the kids through the creative process of writing a book series. They showed a slide presentation of many of the funny things that have happened to them over the years including a hysterically awkward moment leading the Disneyland parade years back with Clarabell Cow as their mascot (Clarabell in lieu of Mickey Mouse, thus sealing their fate as second-class grand marshals). Getting into character, they read from their new book, “Bridge to Neverland,” complete with pirate hats. They were funny, they were relevant, they were engaging and the kids gobbled it up.
But something was different. Gone were the wiggles and giggles that the “little” kids sitting on the floor were struggling with. No teacher had to remind our young adults with a subtle hands-up signal to calm down after an especially explosive batch of laughter. Overnight they’d turned into adolescent gentlemen and ladies, capable of sitting through an event peacefully and without incident. Truly, so different from a field trip into the city last year to see a Christmas Carol. An outing so taxing on chaperones that it was all we could do not to purchase cocktails on the ferry ride home.
With the Tuesday Night Farmers Market coming to a close our town’s young adults will once again fade a little bit from view – that is if you don’t have one of your own. Regardless, Sonoma is a small enough town that a teenager can feel like he or she knows pretty much everyone. That’s a good thing because on the flip side, it means we can keep an eye on each other’s children. For me, I want to make sure my teens are safe; that they’re making good choices at school, at home and when they are out and about. For those of you who know my children, help me keep an eye on them. For those of you who don’t, do my children and all of our Valley’s teens a favor, and help them grow into the responsible, loving people we know they can be.
Together we are raising the next generation of leaders. Let’s see to it that they get there as smoothly as possible.
— Jody Purdom