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The A to Z's of Teenagers: L Is for Luck

It took us a while to settle on "L Is for Luck." I suggested "Love," but Lizzie rightly pointed out that we had already done B Is for Boyfriend. Then I had the bright idea of "L Is for Laundry" which would provide me the opportunity to write about all the chores I do and how eternally and demonstratively grateful my children ought to be for my labors. Lizzie—surprise—didn’t like that idea.

We gave some thought to "L Is for Lists." I liked this idea because I’m a list maker. (I am, in fact, the kind of list maker who makes a master list of her lists, the kind of list maker who, if she happens to do something not on the list, will add it to the list so she can cross it off.) Lizzie doesn’t make lists, and it completely mystifies me how she manages to organize her life or get anything done. So I was kind of hoping that she’d agree to "L Is for Lists." Instead, she came up with "L Is for Luck." She said she wanted to write about the five ways in which she felt lucky and the five ways she felt unlucky.

RELATED: The A to Z's of Teenagers: K Is for Know

This idea intrigued me not just because I’d like to know what my own daughter thinks about the luckiness or unluckiness of her life, but—and here’s why I think you will be interested—I want to know how a teenager thinks about luck.

I’m not sure I believe in luck, although I think I may have when I was my daughter’s age, and things just seemed to happen: Good things to lucky people, bad things to unlucky people. Now, having lived a few more decades and seen a few more things, I trust and believe in myself more. I see myself as actor, not acted upon. And I think mostly we make our own luck. I think luck has to do with having a vision of what you want and putting yourself in a place—geographically, emotionally, whatever—that makes it more likely something good and positive will happen to make that vision a reality. And I think it is about being aware of possibilities. And I think it is about plain, hard, sweaty (often delayed gratification) work.

I am, however, very, very lucky to have a daughter who is an equal partner in this blogging enterprise.

So I don’t think I’m “lucky” that I live in the pocket of paradise known as the Pacific Northwest. I had a dream of where and how I wanted to live, and I worked hard to make that dream come true. I don’t think I’m “lucky” to be a writer. I trained for this. I sacrificed for this. I practice the craft every day. And, although I will admit that there is some luck involved in the tossing of the genetic dice, I wouldn’t say I am “lucky” to have three funny, smart, mostly happy children. That took (takes) WORK every day. I am, however, very, very lucky to have a daughter who is an equal partner in this blogging enterprise. (She says she’s not a writer. Oh, how I disagree.)

And now, a word from the teenage daughter:

I don’t think about luck a lot—except when something really good or really bad happens and whatever it is makes me feel really lucky, or unlucky. So it was fun to spend time thinking about this. Here are the five ways I think I am, or have been, unlucky, and the five ways I figure I’m pretty lucky. It would be great to hear what’s on your lucky/unlucky list.


1. Just plain bad luck. Things like being in the wrong place at the wrong time, forgetting my purse on top of my car and driving away, forgetting my messenger bag on top of my car and driving away (and losing both the bag and all the materials for one of my classes), spilling water all over an expensive meal I just bought. Oh yeah, and NOT winning the lottery :(.

2. Born in the wrong generation. OMG, are jobs hard to find nowadays!!! Jobs for high school graduates in my generation are being taken by college grads. Having good job experience in high school is getting to be nearly impossible for someone in my generation.

3. Half my tongue is numb. When I had my first two wisdom teeth removed (on the bottom), some nerves in my gums got damaged so the right side of my tongue is going to be numb for a couple decades. It makes it hard to pronounce certain words and to talk fast. I don't mind too much since people find it cute and endearing, but it was definitely an unlucky event.

4. The SLOWEST metabolism ever. A moment on the lips forever on the hips. LITERALLY! Gee, thanks, mom.

5. My parents are writers. Why is this unlucky? Well, English is my WORST subject in school. I find writing stressful and difficult. I'm bad at writing clear and understandable papers, my spelling is horrendous (spell check is my best friend), and my parents constantly want to read and critique everything I write! Maybe I'm just jealous of how easy writing comes to them.


1. Amazing family and friends. I have family who respect all my interests and hobbies, and they do whatever they can to support me and make my dreams happen. I have friends who keep me smiling and happy whenever I'm down, as well as always being there for me.

2. Having a car. I am extremely lucky to have a car (my parents’ 23-year-old super amazing Honda Accord, “Blackie”) with the insurance being paid by my parents. My car is the most important object in my life right now. We live out in the country, so having a car keeps me from being stranded without civilization.

RELATED: The A to Z's of Teenagers: H Is for Help

3. Great boyfriend. My boyfriend is caring, thoughtful, sweet, handsome and funny. The smallest things he does always bring a smile to my face. It's not every day you find a man so amazing!

4. I love green beans. I'd probably be dead If I didn't like at least one vegetable—this is it.

5. Being “enabled.” I’m not sure what the word is, but I hardly ever think about how lucky I am for just being able to do simple everyday tasks: being able to walk and run, having a clear and healthy mind, being able to see and hear. I don’t mean that people who are unable to do some of those things are “unlucky.” I know they have other abilities and do both everyday and amazing things. But I do feel really lucky that I’m as healthy as I am.

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