OLD FASHIONED POUND CAKE


 

 

INGREDIENTS

One Cup Canola Oil

4 Eggs, at room temperature. Take eggs out of the refrigerator, and put them in a bowl full of tap water. This will move the temperature of the eggs faster to the desired room temperature.

One Cup Sugar

One and a half Cup Flour

Two teaspoons baking powder

One tablespoon liquid vanilla

Splash of milk

 

 

RECIPE

Heat the oven to 350F. Take a bundt pan or any ten-inch tube pan.  Spray the cake pan with any baking spray. If you do not have any baking spray, put a few drops of oil in the cake pan. Spread the drops of oil with the help of a paper towel or a brush. After oiling the pan, sprinkle flour over the oiled cake pan. Sift the flour and the baking powder together, put it aside. In a large bowl, mix the oil and sugar with an electric mixer. Add eggs, one at a time and mix. Add the flour mixture to the batter. Finally add vanilla and a splash of milk. Now bake for about fifty minutes, or until the cake looks golden.

 

The credit for this recipe goes to a good friend of mine named Rozina Siddiqui. Not only is she a fantastic cook, but she is also a spectacular person. I am inspired by the way she approaches life. She brings a lot of positive energy with her presence.  This is one of my favorite recipes because it takes anywhere between 8-10 minutes to put together, and the result is superb. It will leave people asking for more, and the recipe.

Tariq and Me; Love, Loss and Grief

 

 

 

I wanted to write this blog on February 14th, but I chose to do it now. Six years ago, when I was expecting my third child, on February 14, my only brother passed away. If I say that the loss was crushing for me, it would be an understatement. Let me tell you a bit about him. His name was Tariq, and he was twenty years my senior. I was my parents’ late child, and he was the oldest.  Growing up, he and I were close like normal siblings with an enormous age gap, which meant distant sometimes and close at others. However, circumstances moved in a direction that we became very close. He was my friend before, but by the time he died, he was truly my other half and my companion. At the time of his death, we could finish each other’s sentences. On occasion, If I thought of an idea, it came out of his mouth. He held my hand through thick, thin and many other very turbulent times. He wiped my tears when nobody was around. 

 

We moved to the United States when Tariq was in his mid-thirties, but he could never gain a footing professionally. For those of you who may not know, America is all about adjustment. Adjustment in many aspects of life, and Tariq who was previously a high-ranking bank employee couldn’t adjust. When I look back, analyze and take stock, I see so many wrong decisions that he made after moving to the U.S. However, what’s done is done, but I miss him enormously. What happened was that despite being in excellent physical health, he started smoking in his late teens and early twenties. He used to smoke three packs a day, about sixty cigarettes every day. One fact I have noticed about smoking is that it is bad for health, but the damage is different for everyone. By the time he realized that smoking was wreaking havoc with his health, he was already hypertensive with high cholesterol. His health just didn’t pick up after he was diagnosed with hypertension, and gradually he became a diabetic as well.  All this poor health was combined with sporadic jobs as a computer programmer, and no marriage. That was another factor that made him very careless with his health and lifestyle.

 

I was in circumstances that needed support on occasion. I cannot pinpoint the exact time, but gradually we became necessary for each other. I took care of his apartment, cooked for him, and he returned the favor by babysitting and helping me with other chores. Our friends realized my urgency and would do their best to help me find him. He had so many friends, and he had us. My kids and I worshipped the ground he walked on.  I simply couldn’t dispel his feelings of having nothing and being nothing. I remember, if we went out for ice-cream, he would have a huge serving, and I would have a small child-sized serving. In my frustration, I used to scream at him loudly that he was slowly killing himself. I used to scream that he would have glaucoma, kidney failure and other health emergencies if he didn’t watch his food intake.  I would scream at him that he would be bed-ridden in a bad, sub-standard nursing home. I would scream at him that he was breaking God’s orders by indirectly killing himself.  I would scream at him at the top of my lungs for long periods of time, but the gentleman that he was, he would just listen stoically, and not give any response. Sometimes, my kids would get angry at me for screaming at him.

 

Overtime, he started going into congestive heart failure, and again he was not compliant with food or medicine. Shortness of breath Followed swollen feet. Painstakingly, I can talk about every stage of heart failure because I saw almost  every stage. He couldn’t  walk  to the mosque located barely five minutes from my home because he was so out of breath.  It was excruciating to see him like that. I visited him in December, and as usual, cleaned his house with some help, and cooked for him. He had another angiography scheduled in the first week of February, and I wasn’t able to go.

 

It was a gray day in Columbus and snowing lightly. I called him in the morning, while on my way to drop the kids at school. He didn’t pick up the first time I called him, answered the second time, and told me he was waiting for my call. We had a beautiful conversation, and my kids talked to him as well. I told him repeatedly that I loved him, and I desperately wanted him to get better. After I hung up, I called him throughout the day, but he never answered the phone. I had no panic that day because I thought he would make it another few years.  That was the only day I never raised any alarm with his friends. It turned out that he never talked to anyone after me, and to this day I have the memory of that last call.  You see, my best friend and my other half passed away right after talking to me. I never saw him in death because I wanted that last conversation to keep ringing in my ears. In those first few days, my grief could have drowned me. I couldn’t sleep or eat or drive without wanting to call him. His memory, his voice and the image of his swollen feet almost killed me.  While driving, I would dissolve in uncontrollable tears, and had to pull to the shoulder because that was when we had our calls. I knew there was no one at the other end of the line; I still called him many times in those first few months following his passing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MORE DOHA IN A GOOD WAY

Finally, I am getting the hang of living in Doha. Actually, Doha is kind of fun, a very expensive kind of fun. At last, I figured out that the government building in West Bay, close to Adagio and Intercontinental was not really called “Office of Public Prostitution” instead of “Office of Public Prosecution.” Since June of 2016, when I came to visit and looked up at this building, I squinted in the sunlight and grossly misread the words. It was too embarrassing to ask anyone, lest someone thought I was too silly and old-fashioned. When I misunderstood the words, I was just spectacularly floored at how advanced, and modern Doha was. Now that I have that mystery figured out, it hardly took me any time to figure out that “Court of Cassation” was exactly that and nothing else, so glad I didn’t make a mistake on that one. Also, now I don’t incredulously ask the coffee baristas to repeat twice the price of a small latte or a chocolate brownie, (I am still fond of lattes, but have laid off brownies because I don’t want them to end up where they became harder to get rid of than super glue on your skin).

My maid woes have also been taken care of. After the greatly temperamental and famous Fauzia of Amoudia Village, I have been blessed with a low key and decidedly kinder helper from the Philipines. When I hear her call me madam in a soft baritone, I just about pass out with barely restrained pleasure. I clearly remember the day when a friend came to visit in Jeddah. As soon as I told her that our house didn’t have much work, a very loud snort followed by witchy cackling came from the direction of the kitchen where our erstwhile helper was working. Then this came from the direction of the kitchen, “hah this house doesn’t have work?”, followed by more laughter. Needless to say I was publically shamed. Yes, Fauzia cooked and cleaned like a dream, but having her was akin to a very expensive car. You know you love those pricey wheels, but they are rather delicate and high maintenance. My current helper doesn’t possess good culinary skills, but her attitude and work ethic is nothing short of dazzling. Her cleaning is immaculate, and her manners are exquisite. I don’t reconnect with one-year-old orange slices, bread pieces, candy wrappers and other unidentifiable food particles upon moving sofas to retrieve shoes or some other item. All the areas underneath the sofas, beds, tables and other pieces of furniture are as clean as the floors in our house.

The Uber drivers are a bit tricky though. There are all kinds of Uber drivers out there. The chatty ones who don’t let you talk even though you are the customer, and you need to unload because you paid for the privilege. Then there are also the rude ones who never get out to help with anything, and grunt out their responses, well no five stars for these ones or a healthy tip.
Just a couple of days ago, I sat in a car with a fresh-faced young man who repeatedly kept asking my five-year-old not to make his car dirty. It was all I could do not to snap at him that if a child was stressing him out, then maybe Uber driving wasn’t meant for him. I saved the best ones for last because they make a person very happy, and always get five stars from me and a nice tip. They are unfailingly polite, help out with your stuff, and smile at your child. Good news is that the good ones are the norm, and the not so polite ones are an anomaly.

I have also learned to navigate grocery shopping without getting thoroughly stressed out. It does not cause a minor panic attack to pay exorbitant prices for produce and other household items. Milk, that elusive headache, has become readily available and at much reasonable prices than before.

Things have become normalized, or maybe we have become acclimated. I have finally realized that in Doha traffic, getting from point A to point B can easily take 30-40 minutes even in short distances. It’s very fulfilling and incredibly gratifying to be able to do small things for people in the service industry here, such as offering higher tips to the grocery bagger, restaurant servers, asking how they are faring here and about their families back in their land. Finally, I am learning that Doha is an interesting place to live with much to offer if a person will open their heart and mind to newer experiences.

v

OLD FASHIONED FLAN/PUDDING

INGREDIENTS

6 Eggs
Two cans of Condensed Milk (they are 7 ounces each)
3/4 cup of Sugar
1 Tablespoon of Vanilla

RECIPE

Take the sugar, melt it in a pan by itself and pour this molten sugar into a loaf pan. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and on some stoves it could be 190 Celsius. Fahrenheit is used mainly in the United States, and Celsius is used in England. Also for Gas Mark ovens, the setting would be at 5.

Open cans of condensed milk, pour into a mixing bowl. Now fill the same empty condensed milk cans with milk, and add to the condensed milk in the bowl. You don’t have to fill the two condensed milk cans with milk, you can fill one and a half empty cans with milk. Crack the eggs into the condensed bowl one by one, and add the vanilla. Mix this custard by a fork or a hand mixer, and then heat it gently on stove-top at slightly less than medium heat. Heat for about 5-6 minutes, stirring constantly to make sure that the eggs aren’t cooking. Pour the egg custard into the loaf pan with the molten sugar. Finally, take a larger dish, fill with hot water and put the loaf pan inside the hot water dish. Bake at 375 for about one hour. When you notice that the top is a nice caramel color, take the pudding out and cool it on a counter top. After it is cooled down, put it inside the refrigerator overnight or at-least 5-6 hours before serving.

v

MALLS, MALLS AND MORE MALLS

 

 

I hate going to the mall, it’s so boring and not fun at all. I hate the stuff they sell there, it’s a visual assault on my finer senses. The clothing is so ugly, gaudy and poorly manufactured that it manages to make a person look ugly and fat simultaneously, now that’s what I would call killing two birds with one stone. However, at this point in my life I’d prefer to be neither. The only way I would wear the clothing is if I was about to be executed in the most painful manner possible, (like being thrown in a cage full of lions or dropped in a pit full of poisonous snakes…you get the gist of it), and only wearing those hideous blots on fashion would grant me a stay of execution. Apart from few choice brands, shoes aren’t much different from clothes. They are uncomfortable, expensive, and, tasteless, (again not something I wish to even contemplate buying.) Any piece of clothing or shoes remotely presentable is so outrageously overpriced that they can feed a family of five for a week. However, as a mother of two teenagers, I do have to make those dreaded mall trips just about every other week. Although my daughter would totally disagree with this frequency, “you never take me to the mall” or “we never do anything”, ‘doing anything’ in her language is another euphemism for going to the mall. I manage to give a few feeble responses, but the result is inevitable. Usually the one tactic that works, and I capitulate is when those Machiavellian teenagers tell me that my refusal has more to do with being tired which is a sure fire sign of advanced age. Needless to say, after this dirty trick, I find myself giving in, meekly led to the mall.

 

Although I must say the one thing I really enjoy is watching people. Sometimes I go to City Center on the weekend, and the visual, auditory overload is simply over-whelming. The diversity in people, religions, languages and ages is nothing short of phenomenal. There are rich people, poor people, brown people, white people, Arab people, Asian people. There are mixed couples and non-mixed couples, and single people. There are hijabis and non-hijabis. There are hijabis who you can tell don’t really want to be hijabis, but are covering under duress. Then there are the censorious hijabis looking at non-hijabi world with tight lipped judgment. There are the nervous looking white people, the confident Indian and Pakistani people passing each other with casual indifference, the perpetually smiling Filipinos. Then there are the uniformed maids looking sad and dejected, taking care of multiple kids, and my heart goes out to them.

 

I must say that the couples are fun to watch too. There are so many fascinating power dynamics in couples, I can tell by observation. My kids call this observation ‘stalking’. Did you guys know that power couples are present in every age, race, religion and economic strata? You can tell by looking at the way the couples are walking and interacting with one another as to who wears the pants in the house. Although some homes can have a partner who wears two pairs of pants, (another little gem from my two gems). Or in some relationships, each partner has one leg of the same pant, you know everything is shared fifty-fifty.

 

There are the couples where one spouse is just barely walking behind their other half with all the kids in tow, and you can see the defeat in their faces and the triumph in other’s face. It’s almost like witnessing a prisoner being led by a noose around their neck. There are the couples who are walking together and the kids are equally distributed too. It is fairly obvious that they have a power sharing agreement. Also, there are those who can barely wait to get away from each other, but the kids are keeping them together. Then there are the couples without the kids, and they appear to be quite happy to me, although not in all cases. Finally, happiest are the single men and women spanning across age, race and religion. I am not saying that because I am with two temperamental girls who are pulling my arms in opposite directions. I am certainly not envying the childless couples because I have constant verbal disagreements with both of the girls about the stuff that they’d like to buy and the stuff that they can buy. And I certainly do not eye the childless couples with any longing because I am stuck with two opinionated girls who don’t and I do mean don’t take no for answer. Also, I don’t entertain the thought of running into the crowd and never be seen or heard from again.

Another place I truly enjoy in the mall is Sephora, the makeup store. It’s so much fun to go inside Sephora. I feel like a child in a toy shop, or like a poodle rolling around in treats, well you get the picture. Now to afford something in Sephora is entirely another matter. The fact is that there are very few items priced at less than 100 riyals. I do enjoy looking at makeup and people who are trying the makeup. There are the ladies with pouty lips so wide that the lips practically have a postal code of their own. I mean how do women get lips like that, and are they natural or not? I can’t tell and I am sure touching someone else’s lips can land a person in trouble. Although I have wondered on occasion if someone’s very, very pouty lips were poked, would they bounce back or not? You know like a child inside a bouncy castle or on a trampoline. I am so eager to have pouty lips that anytime I go outside I put on a lip treatment called Fresh Sugar, and then stand in front of the mirror to make a pout, (I think a temporary pout would be better than none). Everyone in my family has learned of this pout exercise, and my son has actually learned to pout better than me.

 

The next thing I am so curious about are the eyes. The eye-brows are so perfect on some ladies, it’s as if God is devoting extra time and effort especially for making those amazing eye brows. Honestly, the curvature on those brows puts the St. Louis arch to shame, they are simply spectacular. Also, lets not forget the shoes, the heels that some women wear can practically be a murder weapon in a pinch, or can be used as intravenous needles in case of emergency surgery. I love those heels, and gaze at them longingly in the stores, but if I wore those, not only would I fall flat on my face and cause some serious damage to myself which in turn could lead to permanent mental and physical harm. Although sustaining serious harm in order to avoid shopping is certainly food for thought.

 

Finally, I’d like to share a few products that I bought from Sephora on my latest mall excursion and truly enjoy using them. I bought an eye pencil and a liquid lipstick by Marc Jacobs, and four matte, liquid lipsticks in various shades of beige by Huda Beauty. I bought these products because I had read good reviews about them, and when I tried them inside Sephora, they looked nice. Upon reaching home, I realized maybe I could’ve done without couple of the liquid lipsticks, but again impulse buying is a big problem for me. I try and buy products after reading their reviews on a blog or a magazine, and in my opinion, best buys are those that we use often even if expensive.

THE TROUSER BATTLE AND MY FINALLY HAPPENING WEIGHT LOSS

I have lost ten kilos since November of last year. An eighteen month baby can be created with the pudge I have lost, not that I’d like to have an eighteen month old baby. Babies are so miraculous, but I would prefer not to have this miracle right now. I already have three which started as miracles, but later morphed into something else entirely. I think I am getting off the topic here. I apologize, I have a tendency to veering off the subject. I’ve been told many times that my attention span is that of  a gold fish.

 

I have struggled with an extra twenty kg for as long as I can remember. I can’t blame it on pregnancy because those offending kilograms were there long before I became a baby carrier. If I really put my brain to the root cause of  it, I think  it was those deceptively light Krispy Kreme donuts, (8-10 at a time), I consumed when I was pulling all-nighters as an undergrad. Or maybe those fish fillets that I had to devour as twos, (one was such a lonely number), or those salt drenched fries that simply had to be downed in a super-size. The list of culprits doesn’t stop there. There were many, many other foods that I simply couldn’t imagine my existence without. There was the smorgasbord of candy bars, the chocolate chip cookies, the potato chips. The amount of soda that I drank could have filled a swimming pool. I even loved cake covered with that hideous culinary shame called butter-cream icing. I think it’s called butt-r cream because it goes directly to the part it’s named for. When you are twenty something and in college, food is practically your best friend, especially bad food, just like those friends that you shouldn’t hang around but love anyway for absolutely no reason except to drive your parents crazy.

Anyway, fast forward many, many years (I wont say how many), and we come to my current weight dilemma. I was always on a weight gain and loss cycle. I would lose a few kilos, and then in joy of losing them, celebrate like crazy. And needless to say, those celebrations were nothing but giant carb parties. Occasionally, the carb fests would last for years, and the result would be those offending kilos creeping up again plus some extra weight for company. However, my recent weight problem started after I stopped feeding the baby, but didn’t stop eating as if I was feeding triplets. When I look  back at my food consumption, I am surprised that I didn’t put on more weight instead of the meager twenty kilos.

 

For me, the straw that broke the camel’s back was when we went to Lahore to spend Eid-ul-Adha with my husband’s family last year. We reached Lahore three days before Eid, and the next day I started shopping for clothes. Well, everyone was outfitted except me. First of all, most major brands were out of my size which happened to be the largest in any maker. At Khaadi, they were pretty much out of everything in size 16. Again, not a problem because I ended up buying a fancy embroidered trouser in a beautiful cream color to pair with a pink and white semi-formal shirt that I already owned. The trouser was in size 16. I have another Khaadi trouser in the same size, and it fit me or so I thought. The shirt fit me, and was very, very pretty.

The day dawned nice and Sunny. When it was time to get ready, I showered and started to put on the trouser. Then the realization came that the trouser wasn’t co-operating, and refusing to ride up my behind, (sorry there’s no other, gentler way to put it). Well, let me tell you the battle that ensued in trying to force the wretched garment onto my person wasn’t pretty. I was rolling on the floor, trying to get that nasty monster on and doing my best not to make a single sound. Remember, it was my sister-in-law’s house, and not my sister’s where I wouldn’t have minded displaying my tattered dignity, and thrown a major  temper tantrum replete with water works. In this grand battle between person and pant, (I like to be politically correct), I  finally won. It goes without saying that I ended up wearing my abaya throughout the  day, even around the ladies because I was afraid the trouser was going to get back at me, and any moment I would hear the sound. You know the one that you hear when two pieces of fabric joined together by stitching part ways with force. I didn’t eat properly, and did my best to hold my stomach in. The whole day was so long and simply excruciating. I cannot describe the relief that I felt when I was in the privacy of the same battleground. This time due to practice and prior knowledge, I got rid of the enemy.

 

When I returned to Jeddah, I tried all my clothes that had previously looked amazing on me. It was devastating to learn that I was practically exploding out of most of them, as if I had stolen somebody else’s clothes. I wanted to start something in order to get back into some kind of shape, but was at a loss. Then the baby started pre-school at Saudi City Playschool, and I started walking around the compound for about 35-40 minutes a day. five days a week. Again, I wasn’t really  watching my food intake. However, at the end of two months I had lost two kilos. This was good, not amazing but not bad either. Gradually, I started  watching my food intake, and lost more weight. In April, it became too warm to walk outside, so I started going to the gym.  When we moved from Jeddah in early August, I had lost about 9 kilos.  Since then I have lost a couple more kilos. After the move, I gained two kilos, but with walking and watching my carb intake, I managed to lose the newly gained weight and then some. I think I am not unique in saying that stress makes us eat more. In times of sadness and tension, food is almost like a friend. Remember those Khaadi trousers,  they are not lose but definitely will be after a few more pounds. Skirts, dresses and turtlenecks are beginning to look pretty great on me.

 

What I would share with all my readers is that some exercise and controlling carbs can produce results, but patience and diligence is the key. Walking is excellent because even if it doesn’t induce weight loss, it’s very good for one’s heart and mental health. Also, be your own judge, what feels good to you. Any information someone else gives you, make sure you cross check it. Finally, never get discouraged and give up. Weight loss is a very long term project, and do not let small set backs bring you down. I have noticed that sometimes when you think you are losing weight, it’s devastating to realize that the weight is not budging. The key is to be persistent in any weight loss approach that you are utilizing. Finally, for me any elaborate weight loss routine couldn’t work because I like to keep things simple. These are the lessons I have learned from my experience, and I hope this can benefit others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TEENAGERS, THOSE SHAPE SHIFTING ALIENS THAT SOME OF US HAVE AND SOME WILL HAVE IN THE FUTURE

“You don’t understand”

“I am 14 and you don’t get it”

“What’s wrong with going to the mall”

“All my friends are doing it or wearing it”, (real classic)

“Its okay to wear this to school”

“I asked auntie so and so and she said Islamically it’s alllowed”

“I am not being rude, it’s just the way I am”

“Why am I not being allowed to do this, give me  a reason”

“Well maybe it’s a bit on the shorter side, but it looks good on me” (well so would going au natural but that doesn’t mean we should)

“I’ll do it in 5 minutes”(on multiple occasions those elusive 5 minutes remain, you got it, elusive)

“You asked like a gazillion times, and I will do it”, ( Its technically not feasible Einstein. I’d much rather undertake the offending task myself because saying something a gazillion times is a herculean chore and quite simply impossible)

“I know I am right”

“____________’s parents are so mean, they don’t allow him or her to do anything”, (this  is a psychological tactic meant to obtaining whatever is their desire du jour by shaming)

“I asked your permission, and you said yes”, (never mind the fact that you don’t ever recall agreeing to anything. They have a trick here too, they catch you when you are at your most vulnerable, and are temporarily unavailable to the world, and would agree to just about anything short of cannibalism).

Blessed are the parents who’ve never heard any of these heated and passionate proclamations. I remember the golden and simple times when my teenagers were little, and all I had to worry about was the latest gymboree or gap outfit, read to them, feed them, teach them manners, help them brush teeth and tuck them in for the night. However, if those times were comparable to an unending, soft Summer breeze or a pleasant fall morning, now it’s more like a category 5 hurricane. Their demands are relentless and ruthless.  They are merciless in their judgment of adults, they want answers and explanations for everything. They are always the wronged party even if you catch them with their hand in the proverbial cookie jar.

Honestly, there are days when I seriously think they are aliens from another planet because they are ever evolving and very scary to deal with. Occasionally, I have resisted the urge to simply elope from home, assume another identity and live peacefully ever after. However that’s a pipe dream because remember they are aliens with super-natural powers , they’ll use those amazing powers to find me  anywhere on earth.

While it is difficult to deal with them, one fact I would like  to point out is that the times we are living in are unlike any other, and the challenges we are facing in raising our kids are also very, very unique. The most prominent of these challenges is the internet. The easy and cheap access to the internet,  and the tremendous amount and variety of information available at finger tips cannot be quantified, and the dangers posed by this limitless data cannot be overstated enough. For example, there are numerous platforms for connecting with others in a multitude of ways, aka social media outlets. These social media outlets provide a real window to outsiders, living in faraway places, in our lives. Personally, I am not fond of these because I feel they can be very  intrusive in the best of circumstances, and downright dangerous in the worst situations. But  most teenagers love to share practically every aspect of their waking life with others like them, notice how I said them, (brings home the alien concept nicely, doesn’t it).

Now I am going to steer away from the internet topic a bit, but we’ll touch on it later. I am noticing a very troubling trend, and it is straight from one of “them”. What my daughter tells me about  her friends and friends’ friends is that when teenagers feel they are being denied the right to do their heart’s bidding, they are finding  ways to achieve their goals in  all sorts of clandestine manners. And any parent who thinks these forces of nature can be stopped in their tracks, I’d like for them to solve the minor problem of world peace. Kids have been hiding things from their parents for an eternity.  In  my opinion,  ongoing minor and  hidden acts of rebellion eventually lead to major acts which in turn create a major ideological divide between parents and the children. And one day, the unsuspecting parent is faced with the devastating realization that they don’t know this person.

One example, a young girl who doesn’t want to wear a scarf will wear it to school but take it off when she reaches the school. Later, she might decide to do other things without telling her parents, and the list goes on. The way I see it, it’s not a simple matter, but that’s not the real problem. Eventually, it will lead to a personality that becomes adapt and even expert at deception. And in my opinion, this deceptive personality is by far the worst of the damage, damage that will last over a life time. And that’s a how we end up with these perfect, well-groomed, well-mannered yes men and women in front of moms, dads, friends and relatives but entirely different people with different values in front of friends.

The way I am learning to deal with this is I pick my battles. As they say, not every hill is worth dying on and not every battle is worth fighting. A give and take has been established between me and my kids. And this is what I would tell any parent, develop a relationship with your teenager because they are at a very delicate junction that hovers between adulthood and childhood. It is very simple to  tell your child the right and the wrong, but it’s not the way this works in their world. Telling them to stop doing  something from the “religious” perspective, or the “right thing” perspective or the classic, “you are not doing this because I said so”, (although I hope to God no sane parent is using the last one) simply does not work.  And let me share something else, when obedience is won by anger or force, the expiration date on their compliance lasts as long as the eye contact.

The rules of the game have changed. Twenty or thirty years ago, we could physically restrict  their movements and achieve some results.  Now everything is inside our home, the devil is everywhere so to speak. There are ways to deals with this, and trust me restricting their phones, internet access, and television viewing will not get much accomplished. The “restrict everything”  tactic will only work if you throw them in the dungeon and lose the key.  They do go to school, and  have friends who in turn will likely have the smart phones and the net access that you denied your child. Think about it, it’s like you are trying to avoid a communicable disease but constantly coming into physical contact with it. One way to get them to kind of submit to some of your smart phone, net and television rules is to have no offending devices at all, if you can manage to tear yourself away from them. Again what we’d like to do, and what we can do are two entirely things. Even in my own home we have not been able to get rid of the devices, not that we have even tried. Our home is practically a one stop shop for used apple devices.

What I have managed to achieve is to have a comfortable relationship with my kids, which entails allowing them certain latitudes despite my dislike for those allowances. However, there are times when I will put my foot down and issue an absolute, unequivocal no. It does produce some severely unpleasant weather. Since these nays are few and far between, there’s no changing them.. Now I can comfortably say that I know pretty much everything that’s going in with my kids’ lives, but that might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Only request/advice I would have for the parent of  a teenager is to reach out to them, engage them. Whichever approach a parent takes, I don’t see any route not going through the hearts  that will reach the mind. Only by making them feel comfortable, accepted and loved can can we start the dialogue with them.