Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Life in Movies Pt. 1: 1980 - 1984

Do you think you can tell much about a person by the movies they watch? I'd say you can, but barely so. If this were a truly accurate account of someone, how could we explain people who absolutely love slasher movies? Would we run screaming from them?

No, it's not that easy. At our house, for instance, we have spent the past few years watching lots of documentaries about serious topics (agriculture, diet, social unrest, the politics of Wal-Mart) and others about not-so-serious topics (grown men who love My Little Pony, the making of the worst movie ever, the people who dress up as celebrities and walk down Hollywood Boulevard to have their pic taken with tourists). We've watched dramatic films that have won awards (such as Argo) and other movies about men with very particular sets of skills (such as Taken and Taken 2).

Though we've not been as good about keeping up with it lately, we have also spent much of the last year celebrating Tuesday nights with "Bad Movie Night." Tim, Tricia, and I take turns selecting a movie we think will make the other two cringe. Tim and I are pretty good at this (our favorite so far being Cool as Ice starring the one and only Vanilla Ice). Tricia, on the other hand, tends to pick good movies she actually wants to see.

Now that Harper and Muluken have reached middle school they are beginning to see lots more movies than they used to - sometimes even going to the theater with their friends. Their tastes are often far different than ours. Thinking  back on the movies I watched as a child, this is probably typical. Last night Muluken went to see Million Dollar Arm, a movie about a sports agent recruiting athletes from India to play in the Major Leagues. As I was driving him home he said, "It was pretty good, but I liked the last one better." I asked which one he was referring to. He answered, "The movie about the plane with a killer on it!"

I've had my own interesting favorites through the years. As I look back on these I think I really can see a bit of myself in the titles I watched during each stage of my life. I can see shifts in my interests and my maturity, not to mention changes in  popular culture as well.

For the next few blog posts I'm going to share lists of movies as a timeline of my life. I'll focus on five-year increments.. For each year I will attempt to share a few of the movies I loved most, watched most frequently, or remember most vividly. Be prepared: 1984 was a kick-ass year for movies!

1980 - Age 6

I believe this was the first movie I ever saw in a theater. My Uncle Dennis took me and even bought me a Superman ring at the concession. Pretty doggone cool! I thought the three villains - General Zod, Ursa, and Non - were frightening.
Though it came out in 1980, I  actually saw this one a few years later when I was old enough to appreciate the humor. This, of course, is a landmark of the comedy genre.
I remember having seen this one a number of times. I can't imagine why. Must have been my parents' doing?

1981 - Age 7

The first of many Harrison Ford movies to make this list.
Seems as though this should have been, at least in part, inappropriate for a seven year old. Still, very funny!
My dad, who was a runner, loved this movie. The plot was slow and the movie was long. I mostly remember the music and the final race. It's one of those movies I think I know because I have seen it but in all reality I understand very little about it.
I watched this movie about a million times. I loved Burt Reynolds and Dom Deluise. This was recently a pick for Bad Movie Night. It was anything but Bad. was bad, but in a great way.
This is a movie I watched a bunch of times but never understood the plot line. Most likely I just waited for action sequences.

1982 - Age 8

I remember crying at the theater. E.T was the greatest theater experience of any movie I've ever seen. It was such a big deal when it came out.
I saw this one on VHS when sleeping over with my Uncle Dennis. I didn't understand a bit of it but felt cool for having watched it with him.
Like many of the future picks. all I can say is that I was a young boy and it was the 80's. Beyond that I have no explanation.
Another questionable movie. Still, I loved it. I used to go outside and swing my Wiffle ball bat in a figure eight just like Marc Singer did with his sword.    

1983 - Age 9

So, I still think of this one as being really good. Ally Sheedy. Dabny Coleman. And, of course, Matthew Broderick. Because it was the 1980's this movie was firmly rooted in a Cold War-era mixture of hatred  and fear of communist Russia. "Do. You. Want. To. Play. A. Game?" Great line. Also...first I had ever heard of a modem. It was so futuristic- using your computer to access/hack other computers. Crazy.
Another movie that, looking back, was WAY inappropriate. Still very funny, though.
Though the third to be released in theaters, this was the first I was old enough to be aware of at the time. If E.T. wasn't the greatest theater experience this one was. Nothing beats hearing that music and seeing the words come scrolling up the screen. And of course...Darth Vader.
Saw this one on VHS. Very creepy. You have to love Stephen King. He can even make a car scary.
I wasn't so obsessed with this one like other people. Maybe this was in part due to the fact I'd never been to the ocean and wouldn't for another ten years or so.
A classic. Rarely does a holiday season pass by that I don't watch this one again. I'd throw in a quote but they're all so cliche by now.

1984 - Age 10

One of the best baseball movies ever made.
This is the first of a whole bunch of Brat Pack/John Hughes  movies. I don't know how many of them I'll put on my timeline but I can guarantee you I saw every one of them.
Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters! I actually thought the ghosts were a little scary. How embarrassing!
This was my favorite series from the horror genre - even more-so than Friday the 13th (at the time). This first one was by far the best. All the others become very campy. This one, though, was so scary.
How many other dorky boys kept doing that crane kick in their bedrooms? And Elisabeth Shue, the first crush of many boys my age.
This later became my favorite series from the horror genre. Last year Tim and I watched all of them again. I think this one, the fourth, is the best. It has Corey Feldman "killing" Jason and Crispin Glover doing the most awkwardly  hideous dance you could ever hope to see.
"I'll be back" (as performed in that Arnold Schwarzenegger voice  - an impersonation we all sadly believe we can do with 100% accuracy).
I remember renting this one on VHS from the grocery store. Do you remember when grocery stores rented VHS?
Phoebe Cates. Crush #2?
Muluken has decided he wants to watch scary movies. It's hard to find many without gratuitous nudity and sex (a hallmark of such movies). So I showed him this one. Oh my gosh, it was so bad. And NOT scary. Yet when it was over he said "Ugh, I'll never get to sleep tonight. And I'm never eating corn again!" I guess I was wrong. If you're twelve years old maybe this is kind of creepy. Maybe. But Peter Horton?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

On the Appalachian Trail: Hot Springs, NC to Sam's Gap

Day One: Hot Springs - Spring Mountain Shelter 11 miles (Total miles: 289)
Day Two: Spring Mountain Shelter - Jerry Cabin Shelter 15 miles (Total miles: 300)
Day Three: Jerry Cabin Shelter - Hogback Ridge Shelter 15 miles (Total miles: 315)

Day Four: Hogback Ridge Shelter - Sam's Gap 3 miles (Total miles: 318)

Generally, after one of our section hikes on the AT, I use the kids' journals to give a daily rundown of our trip. Putting it on the blog helps create a permanent (hopefully) record of our attempt to hike from Georgia to Maine. However, this time I'm going to forgo the daily log for a single story...

Our last morning on the trail was a chilly and wet one. We had hiked quickly the day before so we could reach Hogback Ridge Shelter ahead of everyone else. There was a cold front and rain storm moving in and we wanted to secure one of the six spots in the shelter so we could avoid setting up our tent in the rain and then having to pack it back up the next morning. After fifteen miles of climbing up and down mountains in a cool drizzle, we made it to the shelter and grabbed the last three spots on the wooden platform just six or seven minutes ahead of a group of thru-hikers who arrived right after us.

So our last morning found us dry and cozy in the three-sided structure with only two-and-a-half miles to hike before meeting our shuttle in Sam's Gap at 1:00. In no hurry to get started, we spent a few hours lying around in our sleeping bags and eating all the food we had left in our packs. Most the others hikers were up and out by 8:30 or so but two other guys were hanging around in the shelter putting off what was to be a day of walking in sleet and then snow. The five of us spent a few hours sharing stories, tips, and laughs. Around 9:00 or so a college-aged girl, who went by the trail name Alaska, came into the shelter and asked if we could make space for her so she could sit and put on her boots while staying out of the rain. As she sat one of the other guys, Uncle Tom, asked how late she and her partner had arrived the night before. She explained they had gotten in around 9:30 and set up their tent in the dark.

"I heard you come in but thought it was after midnight," Uncle Tom explained.

"No," said Alaska. "It was before ten. We didn't mean to hike in the dark but we reached the last shelter eight miles back and it was only 5:30 so we decided to hike on."

"How many miles did you wind up doing?"

"We hiked 30 miles yesterday. We might do another 26 today to get into Erwin."

At this point we all dropped our jaws. A thirty mile day of walking in the mountains with a heavy pack on your back is quite an accomplishment (though one many would choose to avoid). But to follow this with a twenty-six mile day is even crazier - especially this early in the trail. The other thru-hiker in the shelter, Naked Ninja, questioned her about this.

"Why are you doing such huge miles?" he asked. "It's my experience that people who push that hard get burned out and wind up off the trail."

"Well," Alaska explained, "my friend and I have deadlines to finish the trail. I came out with her to do a week and then loved it so much I decided to do another week. Then I loved that week so much I decided to go ahead and walk all the way to Maine with her. But we have to finish kind of quickly."

"How quickly?" Uncle Tom asked.

"Well, she's hiked part of the trail already and has a summer camp job that starts in June. She'll be back on the trail in August and finish it then. My sister is getting married in the middle of July so I need to be done by early July."

"Early July!" Naked Ninja smarted. "That's four months. Those are some big miles. I really think you'd be better taking your time and enjoying yourself. If you don't make it at least you'll feel good enough about your hike to come back next year and do the rest of the trail. If you make yourself miserable you'll wind up quitting and hating the whole experience."

"No, we're okay," Alaska promised.

A little later she headed off to the privy and her hiking partner came over.

"Did she give you all any indication what our plan is for today?" she asked.

"No," I said. "But she did mention maybe trying to do the 26 miles to Erwin."


"Wait," I said. "She said you had a deadline She said you had to walk big miles because you have a job to get to."

"No, no, no" she exclaimed. "That's her deadline. I just came out to walk. She's CRAZY."

We all started to laugh.

"No really," she explained. "We're college roommates and she decided to come out and hike with me for a week. Now she's hellbent on walking us to our deaths."

Around this time Alaska returned from the privy and the two of them packed up and headed out together. I don't know how far they wound up walking but, having luckily gotten off the trail at 1:00, I know the rest of the day was frigid and wet. The sleet that began around 12:00 soon turned to snow and the temps eventually dropped below freezing.

You meet all sorts of people on the trail. Many have funny trail names and even more have funny stories. That's part of the joy of being out there. To just walk fifteen miles and sleep in a tent every night would be okay. But to come across a cross section of people from all over the country and the globe is a bonus well worth every step.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Big Decisions Made for All the Wrong Reasons

My wonderful student teacher, Nozsa, has spent the past two weeks taking full responsibility for our classroom. This means she has done the planning, the prep, and all the teaching. Minus a few district tests, a visit from grandparents, and a few observations, she has been in the classroom alone for the past ten days. I remember my own experiences as a student teacher during those two weeks. They were so exciting yet also tiring. Very tiring. I think her experience was very similar.

During her two weeks I've been out of the classroom writing progress reports, doing homework, prepping for my undergrads, and planning for the final seven weeks of school. I've also spent time building relationships with a few people I don't normally get to see all that often.

It's been nice, but long. Too long.

During these two weeks I've not slept very well and have had trouble working up much of an appetite. In fact, I've felt kind of nauseous. And anxious. I tried to attribute this to a number of possible stressers but I finally figured out it was because being out of my classroom disrupted my normal routine - and feelings of accomplishment and fulfillment. Over twelve years of teaching I've come to measure my days by the conversations I have with my kids. The books we read together. The one-liners they deliver at the lunch table. The heated games of dodge ball on the playground. The giggles and hugs at carpool.

For the last two weeks I traded this all in for a game of filling time. And filling time stinks.

However, I'm glad Nozsa had this awesome opportunity to live the life of a teacher for a few weeks. What she learned was invaluable. Soon she will graduate, hopefully find a classroom to call her own, and begin a long and beautiful career. And she'll know right away that she's made the right choice.

Tomorrow the boys and I are headed into the woods of North Carolina for four days of hiking. Since I won't be able to post a new story this weekend I'm going to repost a piece I wrote about four or five years ago about the very moment I chose to become an elementary teacher. I wish it were more flattering. I wish it were more inspirational. At the very least I wish I could say "And that's the girl I married!" But alas, sometimes the destination really is more important than the journey. I know in this case it sure was.



Some decisions should really be made carefully. Where to live. Who to marry. What career to pursue. These are all decisions that will stay with you for some time. Sure, any of them can be changed - but not without a reasonable amount hassle and paperwork.

Take for instance what career to pursue. I’ve read that the average American changes careers at least three or four times in their lifetime. That’s a lot. When I was seven years old I was pursuing a career in professional baseball. When my nephew was a few years younger than that he was considering a career as a shark. Not a card shark or even a loan shark. A great white shark. I’m not sure what training would be involved in such an endeavor but I can only imagine there would be a good deal of swimming and learning to eat without chewing. He was not much of a swimmer at the time but the eating thing he had down cold.

I can’t imagine that these are the types of career pursuits they are taking into account, though, when coming up with that surprisingly large ratio. How does this happen? Each year the teachers in my school work with student interns in the Masters in Teaching (MAT) program from the University of South Carolina. These are people who have earned a degree in another field only to find that they would rather be in a classroom. Some come from business backgrounds while others come from medical or communications or science degrees. I can understand this- starting a career, finding out it doesn’t quite suit you, and going back to school for a year or two so that you can switch to something you find more fulfilling. But three or four times?

Still, choosing a career is a very important, even if not binding, decision that should be made with care. This occurred to me a few days ago as I was driving down the road and passed Family Video. Nestled into one of the latest strip malls to pop up near our house, Family Video has been open for about a year or so. On the sign out front it read:

Need a career?
How does $32,000 sound?
Manager needed.

A career.

A career?

Doesn’t the word career imply long term employment? Really long – like with a retirement plan and everything? Doesn’t the word career make you think of a place from which you’ll one day retire?  Somewhere where you expect to someday be offered a host of smiles, good wishes, and handshakes as you tote your box out the door on your way to a life of grandkids, gardening, and travel.

No, I don’t see Family Video as a career. With the wildly popular, and convenient,  DVD machines in places like McDonalds and WalMart, not to mention the industry dominance of Netflix, I can’t see Family Video stopping by the Piggly Wiggly to pick up a retirement cake for anyone in the distant future. Looking for lasting employment at a video store makes about as much sense as becoming a plant manager at a factory making telephone chords. Or looking to build a fortune selling 35 mm film. Or selling discounted Walkmans on a corner.

It just doesn’t make sense.

I love my career. I don’t even see it so much as work. Sure there’s plenty of work involved as I spend many nights and weekends planning, reading, writing, and preparing. But more than anything I see teaching as a paid hobby. If someone were to hand me a winning lottery ticket I’m certain I’d be back in my classroom the next day. And thousands of days beyond that.

I’m lucky to do something so important to me. I’d like to say that this was all carefully constructed. I’d like to say that I made this decision very carefully. I’d like to say that there was no randomness.

But there was.

After messing around with journalism (for one semester) and music (for two), I jumped into the education program. Despite being a mediocre student, I had always loved school. I had an aunt in Arkansas that was a teacher. My grandpa used to talk about her all the time. We didn’t have a lot of college graduates in our family and the small collection of those who had received degrees had become teachers. In some ways, they seemed to be a source of family pride. So somewhere along the way the idea of becoming a teacher had occurred to me.

That part of the story makes sense. Teaching was, in a way, a family vocation and I was following in someone’s footsteps. Even if I hadn’t ever actually seen the souls making those footsteps.

So by the end of my sophomore year at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville I found myself in an introductory course designed to provide an overview of educational issues. The class met twice a week in a very large room with theater-style seating. I generally sat near the top – when I showed up at all. The class was anything but challenging. Or even interesting. As much as I’d like to blame the professor, I was more interested at the time in sleeping late or playing pool than learning. This was something that I fortunately outgrew very soon.

 On the final day of class the professor explained to us that we would have to declare which program we were planning to enter – elementary or secondary. I had never, for a single moment, considered this. Grade school or high school? I had no clue. Suddenly it occurred to me that I hadn’t really invested myself in the idea of being a teacher. I had no idea what I would want to teach or even what types of kids I might work with each day. To be honest, I really didn’t even have much of an idea what being a teacher would entail beyond assigning homework and keeping a grade book.

The professor then proceeded to tell us that she’d first pass out the necessary paperwork for those planning to enroll in the secondary program and then come around with the elementary forms. It seemed this was a decision that needed to be made quickly. As in the next two minutes.

My mind raced.

If this were a normal day I would have had a few more moments to stall. Had I been sitting near the top of the room it would take these forms significantly longer to reach me. Perhaps long enough to put together some thread of intelligent thought. Long enough to make a somewhat informed decision. But I wasn’t sitting near the top. As fate would have it, this particular day I had seen a really pretty girl walking just in front of me as I entered the auditorium. I followed and sat next to her planning to either talk to her or make her uncomfortable with disturbingly long and intense staring. Whether we spoke during much of that class I don’t remember. I do remember, however, her turning to me and asking which form I needed.

“Uh,” I stammered. “I…I…I’m not sure.”

“You don’t know what you want to teach?” she asked.

“What?”  I asked. I hoped to confuse her.

“Do you know which level you’re applying for?”

“Oh yeah,” I assured her. “Which are you doing?”

“Elementary,” she answered.

“Huh, me too!”

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Grandfathered In to Racism

Racism is a touchy subject for most. Even those who recognize that it still exists in our everyday lives prefer not to talk much about it. It's one of those topics that isn't likely to be brought up over dinner or at a party. At least, not if you're white. One of the many unearned privileges of being white in America is not having to spend much time thinking about racism. Not if you don't want to.

And why wouldn't whites feel a need to spend time concerned with this? Because they are...

* ...less likely than blacks to be arrested; once arrested, they are less likely to be convicted and, once convicted, less likely to go to prison, regardless of the crime or circumstances. Whites, for example, constitute 85 percent of those who use illegal drugs, but less than half of those in prison on drug-use charges are white.

*...more likely than comparable blacks to have loan applications approved and more likely to be given poor information or the runaround during the application process.

*...charged lower prices for new and used cars than are people of color, and residential segregation gives whites access to higher-quality goods of all kinds at cheaper prices.

*...represented in government and the ruling circles of corporations, universities, and other organizations at disproportionately high ratios.

*... disproportionately cast as national heroes, success models, and other figures held up for general admiration.

*...more likely to have greater access to quality education and health care.

*...much more likely to succeed without other people being surprised by this.

*...more likely to reasonably expect that if they "play by the rules" and work hard they'll get what they deserve, and feel justified complaining if they don't.

*...not likely to have to deal with an endless and exhausting stream of attention to their race. They can simply take their race for granted as unremarkable to the extent of experiencing themselves as not even having a race.

I'm almost surprised when I hear people argue that our country has somehow moved past all this. "For God's sakes, we have a Black president now. Stop playing the race card!" they'll say. They, of course, being whites. It's easy to say something doesn't exist when you or someone you love doesn't have to face it's consequences each day.

Generally when people do talk about racism they feel most comfortable keeping it confined to the words and actions of fanatics. White supremists. The Klan. Even many of our grandfathers.

You can't help but notice much of the explicitly racist things you hear tend to come out the mouths, or from the fingertips, of older people. The vast majority of us have that aunt, grandmother, or even parent who might say something about Blacks, Mexicans, or Asian-Americans. The comments that make you cringe - at least for a moment - to know you somehow share a collection of genes.

When older people say these sorts of things they are often defended with the old "Well, he's just a product of his generation. Things were different back in his day."

And it's true. Things were.

Twelve of our Presidents were enslavers of human beings. Of these, half actually kept people in bondage right there in the White House. In fact, the White House was built with slave labor (Initially George Washington - hero to many -wanted to use foreign labor to build the White House but after learning how expensive it would be turned to slaves instead).

George Washington spoke out against slavery yet held them captive at the same time. He did everything he could to ensure that the 300 people he held in bondage could not secure their freedom. When one of his slaves, Oney Judge, did escape before being "gifted" to a Washington granddaughter, GW tried repeatedly to trick her back into slavery.

Thomas Jefferson, our second president, spoke against the principles of slavery yet also spoke out against blacks, saying things such as "Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me, that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior...and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous." Oh yeah, and he also held and raped slaves. So there's that, too.

Theodore Roosevelt, whose face is carved into Mount Rushmore, once said "I don't go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn't like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth."

So should we hold these men responsible for their words and actions given that they were living in a time when such thoughts were widely held? Is that enough for a free pass?

Not according to Robert Jensen who argues we should ask ourselves "Were there any people expressing alternative ideas at the time?"

In the time of Jefferson there were a number, one of which was Thomas Paine. Paine was an opponent of slavery, writing an anti-slavery article for the Pennsylvania Journal and the Weekly Advertiser. In this, he presented a clear condemnation of slavery and the Americans who supported it. By the time Roosevelt came around there were many, many more. By the time our aunts, grandmothers, and parents were born there were entire movements working to disrupt and challenge racism.

So, yeah, I tend to think we can hold them accountable. All of them. No matter how old or young they may be.

There's a blog I recently found called My Right Wing Dad: An Interpretive Center and Archive for Right Wing Forwards. On it, people post and critique the emails that get forwarded among a group of ultra-conservatives. There are ninety (yes, ninety!) under the "Racism" tab. The one at the top right now (comparing Michelle Obama to a chimp) is as overtly racist and disgusting as any "joke" could be. And these are from so-called "Christians."

My friend Melanie recently posted her feelings, as a Christian, of those who represent her, her beliefs, and her God in such a hateful and inhuman manner. I have many other friends and family who feel the same way. And I can understand this. We should neither judge nor dismiss someone for their religion. Or their age. Or their upbringing.

But we should hold them accountable.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Happy Thirteen

Thirteen years ago today Harper Hass was born. Tricia woke up around 5 am with labor pains. We dutifully timed them, just as we had been taught. At first they were eight or nine minutes apart. But they kept creeping closer and closer to one another. We stayed calm and tried to keep to our normal morning routine. We knew it would do no good to get to the hospital early.

Finally around 8:30 or so we loaded up our bag and drove to Barnes Jewish Hospital. Driving to the hospital knowing you're about to have a baby is a surreal experience. You're surrounded by all these people in their cars doing completely ordinary things - going to work, running to the grocery store, heading to the gym. Yet we were right in the middle of them all, knowing this morning was anything but ordinary.

By the time Tricia was checked in it was probably a little after 9:00. Thirteen hours later, at 10:10 pm, Harper finally came. She was screaming and more than a bit slimy. The doctor asked if I wanted to cut the umbilical cord. "," I responded. Everyone in the room looked at me as though I were some sort of schmuck. "You should do it," they said. I stuck to my guns. Yuck.

We stayed at the hospital for the next three days and tried to pretend like we were parents. That was easy to do. It wasn't until we brought her home that it felt much more real. And probably a little scary. But we survived. And so did she.

We lived in the city in St. Louis at that time. After checking out a number of daycare options we decided it made more sense for one of us to stay home. So I became Mr. Mom. I did the diapers and bottles and nap schedule. I pushed the stroller, visited the zoo, and set up play dates.

We both doted. Too much. We thought to be good parents meant to commit every single second to playing, reading, holding, singing, and watching. Lots of parents do this. By the time Ainsley came a few years later we learned to still do all these things but to also give our kids time to be on their own.

Harper was, and still is, easy. She always did just what you'd want her to and told us every day how much she loved her family. She made friends easily and smiled and smiled and smiled.

When she was five years old we moved to South Carolina and she started kindergarten. Starting school meant we would no longer be her whole world. There were many new influences. Harper loved her teacher. She especially loved Mrs. Mattox's southern accent. So much so, she immediately started creating one for herself. She still has it, that knack for stretching one-syllable words into two.

When she was in kindergarten she did a research project on corn snakes. I had one in my classroom at the time and she was excited to share it with her friends. I remember hiding the snake in the front pocket of my hoodie and then pulling it out when the time came for her to show it to her classmates. Her teacher was horrified. Harper was not. She was fearless.

In the years since, Harper has matured. And grown. There have been many changes. She's thirteen now and she likes to spend most the day hanging out in her bedroom. While her brothers and sister still engage in imaginative play she feels too big for this. She'd rather text her friends. Or write in her journal. Or listen to country music. Yes, country music.

She loves horses. And art. And school. 

She hates waking up. 

And cleaning up.

Harper Hass is now thirteen. A teenager. Which leads me to wonder...

How can Tricia and I possibly be old enough to have a teenager?