Flashback~Forget About it-Friday

My daughter turned 17 this past Wednesday. Seventeen. This is the first age she has reached that has floored me. Rocked my world, just a bit. Seventeen is old. Old enough that songs written about girls women this age almost always include lyrics about a man, or two, who is lusting after them. Funny how being labeled “Sexy and 17” was a badge of honor when I was that age, but now not exactly something I wanted to sing to my daughter on her special day.

Flashback~ (don’t really want to) Forget About it– *When I was 17.

When I was 17:

*I was a high school graduate. Technically, I completed high school a few days shy of my 17th birthday, so I was 16.

*A movie ticket cost $2.50 and the average price for a gallon of gas was $1.10. (source).

*I spent the summer hanging out with high school friends, going to movies (Ghostbusters and Purple Rain), and doing college prep (research, if you will) on the campuses of the University of Richmond and VCU. Oh, and I had a summer job.

When I was 17:

*I left home and traveled 530 miles away to attend college. I did this in a state I had only driven through up to that point. I never set foot on the University of Georgia’s campus (or in the state of Georgia) prior to my freshman orientation.

*I lived with strangers–many of them. Before this, I had only been on my own and away from home once, and if you read this post, you know how well that worked out.

When I was 17:

*I drove from my hometown back to college (a ten-hour drive) in the middle of the night. By myself. What were my parents thinking?! I remember my dad telling me to drive with the window down and the radio turned up if I felt myself getting sleepy!

*I attended my first college football game.

*I went to bars. (I got my first, of many, fake IDs when I was 17).

*I talked on the radio and learned how to slip cue records!

*I interviewed athletes and coaches. And musicians.

When I was 17:

*I balanced a checkbook, did laundry and made sure I was awake in time for my 7:50 am class. None of this was a big deal for me, I was a latchkey kid, I had been doing these types of things since I was eight.

*I was elected vice president of my dorm. Vice President, by the way, really is a good job to have–at least when you are vice president of a dorm. Not a lot of responsibilities, fancy title.

When I was 17:

*I learned how to drop my basic math class, a skill that proved to be very important, as I did it repeatedly throughout my four and a half years in college.

*I developed crushes on far too many man-boys to count.

*I successfully completed (the exception being basic math) my freshman course load.

When I was 17:

*I tasted freedom for the first time, and I loved it! I loved it so much that I only returned home one summer–the summer between my freshman and sophomore year. After that, I stayed in Athens year-round.

After thinking back on what I was doing when I was 17 and what my daughter has, and will, be doing at the same age, I feel a bit queasy. But not because of the scary stuff, because of the practical stuff. I realized this summer, when my daughter attended a pre-college program, just how unprepared she really is to go out into the world. Sure, she has the smarts and capabilities, she just doesn’t have enough practical (there’s that word again) experience. She needs to do more for herself. And starting now, she will.

What did you do when you were 17?

*Yes, I am aware that there is a show on MTV with this title and premise.


16 responses

  1. When I was 17, I began my first year in college.
    I knew it was time to leave the baby pool for “adult
    swim”. I embraced that fact, and I dived in. Unfortunately,
    a lot of kids today are ill prepared to jump in, and they need to be pushed in. At this point, they either swim or at least tread water, otherwise, they drown. I could blame the preparation
    of our youth today on Rap music( kinda kidding) , but the true responsibility of teaching our children to swim rest entirely on our shoulders- the parents – . On that note, I am going out to lay
    in my chaise by the pool in beautiful New England. I forgot to mention, I will be listening to the Allman Brothers( not kidding).

    • I couldn’t agree with you more–well except about the rap music–helicopter parents are to blame. And while not one myself, I am realizing I am too close for comfort. Think I am going to write a post on this is near future.

  2. Happy Birthday to your daughter! She is officially half my age. Never thought I would say that! I feel really old now.

    La Jolla is beautiful…I’ve been there a couple of times but usually the 405 traffic discourages me from going further than the OC. šŸ™‚

  3. Wow! You were young when you graduated from high school girl!!

    I share many of the same feelings you have regarding my 18 year old son.
    Tomorrow is dorm move in day. I’m so proud of him for electing to go to school 2,000 miles from home, but tentative about his coping skills.
    My husband tells me he’ll be fine, “He’s got a fridge, micro, money, TV, laptop, Skype and cell phone. When I went to college, my father died my sophomore year, I was on a baseball scholarship (I was owned by my coach) and my parents didn’t even know who to call in case of an emergency… from Mexico City to Pitt U. He’s got it made.”
    Tomorrow night he’ll sleep in his dorm and he’ll probably never move back home again… if we did our job right, he won’t.

  4. I went to bed, alone at 10 and rose at 6:30. I did all my school work before having any fun. I ate all my veggies and fruit. I exercised daily. I only kissed boys and then never on the first date. I spent most of my time in prayer or church.

    This is my story and I am sticking with it. (Until the kids are all in their 20s, anyway.)

  5. Omg, this is huge. I can only speculate I will feel exactly the same way in 13 years when Lil turns 17. I will cry, and then I will lock her up. Not really, but I do want to make sure she’s done laundry since I didn’t learn until my first day of college, which sucked. Good luck to you and to her and she finds her way and develops into amazing woman she is destined to be (with a mom like you : )).

  6. 17 is so much older now. When I was 17 I felt like a kid. I WAS a kid. Now my 13 year old tells me (when I tell him he is only 13)…he tells me yes but he has the social life of a 15 year old. Huh? Why the need to be older? I loved being the age I was at all ages. 13 and 17.

    • Every age is older now, but I suspect that is the way it has always been. I am sure me and my mom at 17 looked very different. I think kids are “allowed” to be older in some ways but not in others. I see parents stepping in an awful lot and think some kids won’t know how to do anything (including advocate) for themselves when they go off to college. Thanks for visiting the blog!

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