My oldest daughter passed her iPod down to her little sister after receiving an iTouch for Christmas. She was so excited to have her own like her big sisters and brother. After helping her choose some appropriate songs from our library, I bought her a few more that I thought she might enjoy. She loves “Our Lips Our Sealed,” by the Go Gos so I bought “We Got the Beat” and also a couple of B-52s songs ("Rock Lobster" and "Cosmic Thing"). These were fun songs when I was a teen and in my early 20s.
Of course, I felt it mandatory to teach her the “Rock Lobster” dance that my friends and I used to do at school dances back in junior high (aka middle school). We'd pretty much just jump up and down in place, waving our arms wherever, shaking our heads back and forth until the “Down....down...down...” where we would slowly descend to the floor until the beat picked up and we’d jump up and down again. Lots of fun because there were no specific “dance moves” (I suck at line dances or anything that requires sophistication like ballroom, jitterbug, or swing) We didn’t care how crazy we looked because, well, that was the point.
Now because she’s 7, my little one totally got into dancing with me. Not so with the 11 and 14 year olds. They stood outside the doorway, afraid to come into the room, wearing a “What is this???” and "What are you doing???" look on their faces.
Then I had an old moment. I couldn’t stop the words “we used to have a blast (more indication that I’m old by using the word "blast") dancing to this song when I was a teen” from coming out of my mouth. And then I had a flashback: driving in the car with my parents as they made me listen to 50s music on “Oldies Night," saying the same exact thing.
When you have kids, especially teens, old moments are common. They're when your head and heart feel the same as you did when you were a teen or younger but your words and body don’t quite match. My head and heart were 15 while I was dancing with L even though my poor out-of-breath body couldn't “Rock Lobster” past 5 minutes (I had forgotten how long that song is! The video below is a shortened version).
So my point – which you probably didn’t think I’d ever get to [didn’t I make a resolution about shorter posts and I’m already blowing it <--gah! another old expression!] – is that even though I may be bit older than others pursuing children's lit publication, I'm okay with that. I can recall like it was yesterday, the emotions, struggles, joys, uncertainty, loneliness, and the goofiness that go along with being a teen and feel confident that I can represent that age group (or even younger) in my writing. Those years are still fresh and raw and...there, you know?
In fact that's why I must write for teens. I'm still so very connected to that girl. If I wasn't I wouldn't even attempt it. And if I ever sound like an adult trying to sound like a teen in my writing, I have 2 teens, 1 tween and a 7 year old (and their friends) to remind me and get me back on track.
Now stand up, find some space, click "play" below, and ROCK LOBSTER! You know you want to and I won't tell :P