The Loh Life is writer/performer Sandra Tsing Loh's weekly take on life, family, and pop culture in early 21st century Southern California.
Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh
Airs Mondays during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

TEEN WASTELAND





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I was talking to my friend Alana, a Westside dance team mom.  Except she's an uber dance team mom - Not just because LA moms ARE ubers, but because she has two daughters on two different dance teams that rehearse five days a week in two different locations.  "And with the outfits on top of the classes, on top of the competitions which are in Long Beach and San Diego!  I'm going broke, and have no time to grow my business.  But, of course, they love it!" she babbled on enthusiastically, sounding like a crazy person.

But, we all sound like crazy people.  I, myself, have been Tiger Mom-ming my 12-year-old, but with spectacular ineffectiveness.  That's what you get when you're just half Chinese.  The other weekend, a take home parent and child biology test took 15 hours and still got a C, possibly because we spent so much time arguing about flagella.  Then, Suzy prepared the wrong chapter for a quiz and got an F.  With her semi-photographic memory, though, she recalled all 32 questions, so she cheered herself up by giving me the test, and I also got an F.  Although at 16 out of 32, I considered it a fairly high F.  Oy.

Last weekend, there was more work: reading the Story of Islam, writing a diamante or diamond-shaped poem - And, oh!  Interviewing an expert on Teen Depression.  Great.  But, I was finally able to pull out an ace in the form of my friend Dr. Wendy Mogel.  She's a clinical psychologist and bestselling author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and The Blessing of a B Minus.  She uses Jewish wisdom to counsel parents.  Sample favorite idea: Parenting teenagers is like wandering for 40 years in the desert.

Dr. Mogel talked to Suzy about teen depression - while mom transcribed.  She was wonderfully calm and soothing.  She said sometimes what seems like teen depression is actually just sleep deprivation.  Girls are reaching puberty earlier than ever - The hormones trigger a shift in Circadian Rhythms - They'd naturally stay up late and sleep late, but they can't.  And, sometimes depression isn't clinical, it's just a low mood or a difficult time.  "For example," she said, "February!  It tends to be the low point for students, teachers, and administrators.  Everybody thinks they're depressed in February."

Further: "Parents take a snapshot of their teenager, and they think it's the epic movie of their whole life!"

Well said, Dr. Mogel, and thank you.  Never mind that, regarding one mom's grade in 7th grade biology, a B Minus really would be a blessing.