Being Fourteen, Then and Now

Allison 10th Grade 1984

For me, being fourteen was pretty cool.  In looking back for this post, I’m surprised by how much of being fourteen I remember. One thing is for certain, my fourteen is far different than the fourteen of today. In some ways it was so much simpler and kinder, but perhaps my nostalgia is sugarcoating my memories. There wasn’t the pressure there is today, and yet I had so much more responsibility than my children. I also had more freedom, yet they have the world literally at their fingertips.

I’m the mother of two fourteen year-old boys, although for this post I’m going to only be referencing Hunter since Barrett’s situation is atypical.

When I turned fourteen, I was a freshman in high school, but Hunter’s still in middle school.  I wasn’t a prodigy, Massachusetts just had different age cut-offs.  I was very conscientious of my grades and what my parents (and peers) thought of me, Hunter – not so much.

At fourteen, I played tennis and joined my school’s tennis team. Frustratingly, I never reached a ranked high enough to play in a match. I lost confidence and believed I sucked. I gave-up. My parents never said a word to me about it. Hunter runs both cross country and track. He didn’t initially make the team, but was their manager. He wanted it though, and worked hard to earn a spot on the roster. He didn’t give up.  He’s really fast, although if he practiced more, he’d be wicked fast. And I’m always nagging him to practice.

1919387_1175225313006_5745455_n[1]At fourteen, I was very much into what I wore and so were all my friends.  We dressed up to go to school. I loved the surfer/preppy look. I wore designer jeans, and polo shirts with the collar turned up.  I loved to wear dresses and (mini)skirts.   I loved bright colors and I wore a lot of white (that’s me on the left, in white) – the more to show off my tan.  I owned quite a few pairs of white shoes: tennis shoes, sandals, flats, pumps.  All in white.

My son dresses horribly.  Seriously, it’s a wonder I even let him out of the house (he’s a teenager and his moodiness leaves me with little desire to keep him at home).  Gym shorts all the time.  Ugly socks.  And old grungy t-shirts, usually in grey.  When he’s feeling spiffy, he’ll wear some mesh psychedelic Under Armor or Nike shirt and/or hoodie.  He doesn’t seem to care if his colors clash.  Maybe he’s color blind.  And heaven help us if we’re going somewhere that requires him wear a collar.


See?  Red Shirt with orange shorts!

At fourteen, I loved the hair bands of the eighties. And Prince. Lordy, I had it bad for Jon Bon Jovi and Paul Stanley.  Hunter’s favorite band is Maroon Five.  I got him concert tickets for Christmas.  I thought it would be a fun mother-son date night.  Nope.  He refused to go with me.   I sold the tickets on eBay and kept the money for myself.


At fourteen, I was still addicted to General Hospital, and the trifecta of Dallas, Dynasty and Knots Landing. Hunter watches WWF (or WWE?) Raw/Smack Down, Motocross, and NASCAR.  The only thing we can watch on TV together is the NFL.

I loved going to the movies, especially if it was a John Hughes film or a member of the Brat Pack was involved.  I loved Rob Low.  And Richard Gere (still do).  Hunter now only goes to the movies with his dad.  And there has to be a Super Hero or explosions.  Just last night I forced him to watch Miracle with me (the Kurt Russell gem about the 1980 American gold-winning Olympic hockey team). I believe it was torture for him. Should be fun to make him watch Rudy, Bull Durham and Field of Dreams!

I was good girl at fourteen, having only kissed a boy once, and then because I was dared.  I almost got my second chance on my fourteenth birthday, however I fumbled it badly. It was really bad and definitely not a kiss. I had lots of crushes, but because of FaceBook, I really can’t tell you their names.  I would be mortified, even now, decades later, if they ever fund out. I was very shy, and didn’t have a boyfriend until I was fifteen (and then only for four awkward weeks).  My son does not have a girlfriend, and I’m not allowed to ask him if he does – ever again.

So I was a late bloomer when it came to the opposite sex, but I was ahead of the curve when it came to partying.  This was ironic, because I was a nerd. I loved books and hanging out with my parents.  I was a good student and already charting my course to college. But I grew up with parents who were partiers, and well, I partied.  At fourteen I’d already smoked a cigarette(s) and drank beer at a high school party and the drive-in.  Ah yes, the drive-in.  That one dates me a bit, doesn’t it?  To my knowledge, my fourteen year-old has not indulged in either a beer or a cigarette.  And if he has/does, I will kick his a**. I’m also pretty sure he has no idea what a drive-in is (either the movie kind or the place that sold beer to minors).

At fourteen I had my first job, as a busgirl in my dad’s restaurant.  I worked Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights.  I earned $3.25 an hour, plus tips.  I had chores, and was responsible for my own laundry and I paid for my own make-up, hair products and spiral perms at the salon. My kid doesn’t have a job and sadly has very few responsibilities, other than taking out the garbage and babysitting his siblings. If he runs out of shampoo, I’m given an empty bottle and it’s assumed that I will replace it. This is bad.  A local DJ calls it the wussifying of our kids. Guilty as charged.

At fourteen I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be.  I imagined a glamourous life as a travel agent, interior decorator, or fashion designer.  I didn’t really plan on having kids (ha!).  I wanted to live in a high rise apartment, like Mary Tyler Moore. I didn’t know what an accountant did and certainly never thought I’d be one.  I didn’t think I’d be a published writer, that’s for sure.  Hunter has no clue what he wants to do.  He no longer answers “race car driver” when asked. Thank God.  I’ve met very few people in my life who really know what they want to do, so I’m not worried. I’m more concerned about his getting through the eighth grade


Tracy and me.  Marcie would KILL me if I posted a picture of her at fourteen.

What else?  My best friends when I was fourteen were Marcie Matkin and Tracy Buck.  I’m happy to report, we’re still my friends today. I still remember the day Tracy and I saw I saw Sixteen Candles, by ourselves, and I forever pledged my love to Jake Ryan. It was the day of the Junior-Senior Prom. We were freshman, and didn’t have dates. So we went to the movies – by ourselves!  That’s right, we were dropped off at the theater by a parent, bought our own tickets, with cash we’d earned, watched the movie, and then hung out in the arcade for hours.  With no adult supervision.  At fourteen. For the record, I’m unwilling to drop my kid off at the movie theater with a friend. One, duh, watch the news. Two, Marcie and I “saw” Beverly Hills Cop about twenty-eight times.  One of our moms would drop us off and we’d stand in the ticket line until we couldn’t see the car anymore.  Then we’d stand in line at the pay phone and call a friend who had a car to come get us. Yep, we did that. Nope, not dropping my kid off.


I ate too much candy, drank lots of Diet Coke, read tons of magazines, obsessed about my weight, and loved to lay in the sun.  All the time.  Oh, I regret the sunbathing.  Not really.  Okay, maybe a little.  No, honestly, I don’t, but my skin does.

Of course we didn’t have cell phones, but I did have a “teenager line.”  I saved my money to have my own line, with my own phone number (listed in the phone book) installed in my bedroom.  Tracy’s dad worked for the phone company and scored me my much coveted “princess phone.”  I did all of this so I could make and receive calls whenever I wanted, because my younger brother was rather popular with the girls and was on the phone constantly.  Unfortunately, once I got my phone he started giving out my number, too.  If they couldn’t reach on the house line, they called mine. Not cool.

I was a happy fourteen year-old.  Things were still really good at home.  My parents were healthy, my dad’s business was doing well, my brother was mischievous, but he hadn’t crossed over into troubled yet. I harbored rosy visions of the future for our family. I still had innocence, and it was glorious. All of this is true for my son, as well.  I hope I can preserve that magic and that fate doesn’t have something else in store for us.

What were you doing at fourteen?

This post was inspired by Finish the Sentence Friday.  This week’s prompt, “When I was fourteen…”

Our Hosts;

Kristi of Finding Ninee

Dana of Kiss My List

Kerri of Diagnosed and Still Okay

30 thoughts on “Being Fourteen, Then and Now”

  1. Oh my gosh, I went to the movies all the time with my friends, too! I still remember being under 13 and trying to get into a PG-13 movie (remember when that rating was made?!). They carded us and we bluffed that we had forgotten our IDs. But who has an ID that they are 13? Ha!

    Jake Ryan Forever. Or Lloyd Dobler. Either one is good.

  2. Are you sure we were not friends at 14? Because it sounds like we did the exact same thing!!! OMG to the turned up collar, the 80’s love of all things hair and to being dropped off with our own money and left unattended. Not that I would let my 14 year old do any of that!

    1. Did you go to high school on the Cape? If we’d stayed, I would have been at Harwich High – we could have run into each other at a game, or the very least, the mall.

  3. Yikes — I remember doing the same thing when Mom dropped me off at the movies to meet friends. I’d also had my first cigarette and first beer by that time, although my mother was suspicious enough to know better than to let me go to drive-in movies with my friends.

    I don’t think my kids have done any of those things, but I’ve been told I’m a bit of a helicopter mom. I keep expecting my kids to try some of the things I tried when I was their age, and I’m not sure if it’s a good thing that they don’t seem to be interested in even trying. Or maybe they are trying things and they’re just better at hiding it than I was . . .

    1. I debate that all the time. Am I too over-protective? I was exposed to so much at a young age, and I don’t want that for them. Yet, I don’t want to send them off to college completely innocent and with no clue how to handle a tough situation. This keeps me up at night.

  4. Wow quite a bit of differences. We were dropped off at the movies and skating rink when we were in middle school. I can remember the movie theater not having a payphone and then walking to one to call whoever’s parents to say we were ready. No way I would feel comforable with that not ever if my son had a cellphone.

    I used to get a very generous allowance before I had a job. It was $50 for me to budget monthly but I bought my own toiletries, pads, hair stuff etc. There wasn’t any money left for clothes maybe a shirt or some new “white” Keds from time to time. I would not trust my son with that allowance either. I’m sure he would go smelly than buy his own deorderant. Age 10 I fear I’ll be reminding him for as long as he lives here to put it on.
    So with Hunter, though he doesn’t care about what he wears or whether he matches, is he into sneakers? I’m seeing that kids wear some really nice sneakers but then from the ankle up it’s like “whatever”.

    1. The (roller) skating rink was when I was in middle school, by the time I was in high school it was uncool. I’m jealous of the allowance. I never got one. And yes, the sneakers are very important. Both for running and school. Two pairs, equally expensive.

  5. I could have written that entire paragraph about dressing horribly. Exactly! Mismatched, ugly socks, and allergic to collars (and non-elastic waistbands).

    Things are so different. I feel like the world is less safe, but we are also so much more connected because of cell phones. Maybe too connected, sometimes, but as a worrying mom I like that I can always know where my kids are!

    1. I agree. It’s the only reason I let Hunter have a cell phone. Plus with so many ids having to be in different places at the same time, I am always late or early. I don’t know how we’d coordinate without the cell.

  6. Wow. That was a blast. I love the local DJ comments regarding the ‘wussifying’ of our kids in this day and age. My 14th year was all about image. Upset that I still didn’t have enough lip or face hair to shave I started associated myself with the ‘cool kids’ and thankfully I was accepted into their fold since I listened to music like KISS, Aerosmith, and the Stones. Making $5 a pop in the summer cutting lawns was my spending money and of course the occasional hand out from some pretty cool grandparents. Purchasing my first 10-speed and riding it all over town gave me the freedom that I can only dream about now. I drank too much Yoo-hoo, Kool Aid, and Tang but never gained weight. I played hard and slept like a baby at night. I had an older brother who might as well been ‘Wayne’ from the Wonder Years. Before gym shorts were all the rage I remember wearing jean cut-offs for shorts and swimming in the nearby Creeks. Yes….I swam in those ugly murky water creeks–Please tell that to Rich!! Lol. And of course back then all I wanted to do was grow up. What was I thinking???

    Uncle Mark

    1. Wow, fourteen year-old Uncle Mark sounds like a lit of fun! What happened?!?!? Just kidding. But still, I can’t believe it about the creek. And your mom was a nurse – did she know?

  7. You sold the tickets on eBay and kept the money for yourself? Damn. Best line in the whole piece. I love that. I would have done the same. Oh yeah. Don’t want to go with me? Sorry. Not going.
    And I’m sorry to say this but don’t expect the colour combos of your son’s to change anytime soon. My 19 year-old lad chooses some pretty wild numbers himself. Still. Oh yeah. I will offer up a gentle “you want to rethink that, Bud?” while his sister is far more blunt. He listens to neither one of us …

    1. What is that, with the colors? He was wearing that outfit the day he ran with Bear, and I was mortified. I texted Barrett’s teacher and begged her to find another shirt for him to wear. And as for the concert, there was no way I was going to let him go with a friend – to Philips Arena in downtown Atlanta (never mind that I was a seasoned concert goer at that age, with out my parents). It was a Thursday night, and I lost interest if he wasn’t going to go with me.

  8. I think we would have been best of friends back then and probably why I do so enjoy reading your blog, because so much of what you shared about yourself sounded so similar to me back then, especially General Hospital and btw, I still sometimes watch as my mom still watches it – so if I am around here when it is on and will stop and watch a bit believe it or not 😉

    1. Janine, I sometimes do, too. I quit for years because I couldn’t handle Sonny and Jason ALL THE TIME. And they portrayed women horribly and killed off all the Quartermaines. But I tuned in for the 50th anniversary was pleasantly surprised to see all my faves back! Ever since, I’ll have it on in the background if I’m home. It’s much better these days, than it was.

  9. Hunter said no to Maroon Five with you? Wow. Glad you kept that money for yourself! I was drinking at 14, too… and I so so relate to the amazing amount of freedom we had back then. My parents were either really trusting or a little naive. Seriously. Love your post, Allie!

    1. He did. I was so shocked. I’m cool! I go to concerts all the time, he should be so lucky to go with me, right? I even have it on video. I was filming him as he opened the present, because I thought this was going to be “the gift.” He smiled, saw that there were two tickets and said something like, “Wait, do I have to go with you?” Ah, yes, you do (dad hates concerts). His face jut fell.

  10. Oh this is just such a great look into your teen years, Allie!! You were so cute!! And so much of your teen experiences resonated with me… the sun bathing, the first cig and beer (mine was sherry!!! Yes- cooking sherry at my best friend’s house. We actually got drunk on it.)

    GENERAL HOSPITAL!! Every single day during the summer!! And lay out before…. paint nails while watching it with my other BFF.

    And SIXTEEN CANDLES!! All of John Huges films… do you know he went to my high school? Yeah, he was writing these films (breakfast club especially) about our high school!! Rumor has it he wanted to film there, but couldn’t so he filmed at the next town’s high school a few more miles away.

    Oh, those were some crazy days…

    1. SO you grew up in Chicago? I think he did want to film it at his high school. I read a Jen Lancaster book a few years ago, which was fiction, about a woman who buys the Sixteen Candles house and remodels it (it becomes the money pit). Anyway – she had tons of stuff in there about John Hughes and the suburbs where most of his films took place. Lancaster is also a Jake Ryan devotee.

  11. You can tell Hunter that I MET Maroon Five! Oh yes.
    I never really sun-bathed but my sister did religiously. I often wonder if she’ll age much more prematurely than I did. She’s 36 to my 34 now and she’s so much healthier than me in general with exercise and eating.. who knows!?
    Ok so at 14 I had a love square. That’s like a love triangle but with four people.
    It didn’t really work out for me, though.

    1. Shut the front door! Seriously? Inquiring minds (possibly mine, not Hunter’s) want to know – is Adam Levine so hot in person? Is he nice? I’m dying to know! And if he’s not, please lie to me.

  12. I went to Harwich Elementary before moving to Connecticut, many moons ago. My heart always does a little zing when I see anything or anyone connected to the Cape. I love it so much. Your fourteen year old self is very relatable!

  13. It was so fun to read about your 14 year old experience! I love this prompt. I was similar in living the white shoes (Keds!) and hair bands and being so shy and totally fumbling my first kiss – though I blame you Eric (luckily I joined FB so late I dont need to worry, ha).

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