Today Swim Chick achieved a developmental milestone. I was headed home from dropping off Gym Girl at practice when Swim Chick called to report that one of her friends from the Odyssey of the Mind team had locked himself out of the house so he was walking over from his house to ours. Yes, Swim Chick was having a BOY over for the first time. And, I hadn't thought to ever discuss with her the ground rules for having boys over to visit. Because we'd never had a boy over to visit. The good news: she called me to tell me what was up and I was going to be home to supervise. I proceeded to spend the next two hours pretending to be nonchalant about the whole thing while making sure I was around but not right with them. I did learn not to underestimate the effectiveness of the annoying little brother who wants to join in whatever activities his sister and her friend are doing.
When Adventure Guy got home, I suggested that this would be a good time for him to go by the game room where they were playing video games and say hello. He, amazingly calm about this whole development, said, "This is really freaking you out, isn't it?" I told him I'd feel a lot better if I had had a chance to preview minor details like, "No taking boys in your bedroom." Adventure Guy wisely said that this would be a great reason to have that conversation after her friend left. Which is exactly what I did. I was met with the typical teen eye roll and the statement that they were just friends, so I shouldn't worry about anything like that. Actually, I think this is the case, and she didn't take him into her room or do anything else even remotely inappropriate. I still feel better to have spelled it out.
I know this parenting a teen thing is not cut out to be easy, but there are plenty of days when I look back at some of the things I agonized over when the kids were babies and toddlers and think that was the easy part. The physical work was more grueling, and sleep deprivation is never fun, but now I'm walking the tight rope of trying to be both sufficiently strict in order to provide boundaries and appropriately open to Swim Chick's growing need for independence. It seems like a daily issue. Can she go to the movies alone? Can she have a boy over? Next, it will be can she go to a movie alone with a boy. I am not ready! I helped give a baby shower yesterday for a teacher who is due soon. I had to leave a bit early to get Swim Chick to her orthodontist appointment, and I was struck by how quickly thirteen years has passed. Wasn't it just yesterday that the teachers I worked with were giving me the baby shower? I told the mom-to-be to enjoy her time with her new little one. Those moments are as sweet as they are fleeting.
While I was trying to be unobtrusive and good-mom-like this afternoon, I figured making dinner was a good activity. Somehow, Baked Ziti seemed appropriate for its warmth and homeyness. I'm not an Italian mother, but somewhere in the amalgam that makes up my children's lineage, there are some Italian ancestors. If you're aiming to feed a crowd, double the following recipe. If not, this serves four adults or two adults and a couple of kids.
8 oz. ziti, cooked
1/2 lb. hamburger meat
3 links Italian sausage (I prefer the "hot" version, but mild is good too)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 1/2 c. marinara sauce
sliced Mozzarella cheese
Brown hamburger and sausage with onions in large skillet. Drain fat from meat and add ziti and marinara. Stir to combine. Spray 9" square dish with cooking spray and add 1/2 of ziti mixture. Top with half of mozzarella. Add remaining ziti mixture. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove foil and add remaining cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, for an additional 15 minutes.
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
1/2 onion, chopped
32 oz. chopped tomatoes
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onion is clear. Drain half the juice from tomatoes and add to onion mixture. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.