The Life of a 12 Year Old

I am currently on holiday with my hubby’s family. Yes, with the in-laws. We are in Oahu in Kailua….. just down from Obama’s house. As exciting as that is I find myself captivated by my 12-year-old son.

As I sit here writing, he is snorkelling {in the pool} with his Korean cousin. Not only do they have a language barrier but my son is snorkelling with my snorkel set which is hot pink. That means his flippers are pink, his goggles are pink as is his snorkel. As I write I keep gazing over at him, smiling as he has no idea how {in 1, 2 or 3 years} this ‘get up’ may perhaps be absolutely unacceptable.

The Life of a 12 Year Old…. What does it look like? Well, today it looks like a boy with a pink snorkel set. 12 years old…. Do you remember what that felt like? I do and, in fact, if I could choose an age where I would love time to stand still, it would be at the age of 12 years.

We all have a favourite year or, in some cases, a decade. I have many enjoyable times, many years that were great and being 43 I totally believe that my 40’s are going to be one of the best decades for me. However, in saying that, if I were asked to pick an age or one year that stands out in my 43 years of life, thus far, it would have to be 12.

I loved being 12. I loved everything about 12. Why? I can’t really pinpoint any incredible or life-changing event that occurred when I was 12 but rather a sense I recall. It was a sense of knowing that I was still too young to do the things my siblings were doing {ie: Drive In Movies, Dances, Parties, etc}. I wasn’t even interested. My interest in boys had definitely peaked and I remember pining over one boy called Cameron. He was the boy of that year. I liked everything about him however, I knew that even he was beyond my reach at that age.

In this day and age you may wonder why at 12 I knew a boy or the things my siblings were into were out of reach. Why? It’s simple. I feared my parents and my aunts and uncles and my parents friends in a really healthy way. I knew they all had my best interest at heart and they knew my parents rules and if they saw me operating outside of those boundaries, they made absolutely NO apologies and they let them know. With that knowledge, the appropriate discipline would have been given. Those were the days and I am reminded of the African Proverb that says: ‘It takes a village to raise a child’.

Why did I love being 12? I loved it because I knew I wasn’t old enough to do anything else than be a kid. I loved it because I was a kid and I didn’t have to try to be, nor did I want to be anything else. I loved being 12 because I didn’t have a care in the world. With limited technology and connectivity my only concerns were where I would eat dinner, if I had $0.50 for a popsicle in my pocket {on a hot summer day} and who I would be playing with and who would have a sleep over. I remember 12 really well. My life seemed to be aligned. My parents were alive and well, we seemed to have no concerns as a family {at least in my mind there were no concerns, I’m sure there were but my parents were great at keeping things from us!}, my grandmother’s were alive and healthy {both were beautiful influences in my life and I loved spending time with them}. I had never experienced war, famine or death {I was too young to remember my grandfather’s death so in my limited experience the pain of death had not found my heart yet}. I remember lazy summer days filled with sand, sun and the beach. My bike and a towel draped around my neck, friends and BBQ’s at night. The summer I was 12 seemed to last forever and it would appear that it has, it is a memory that brings me joy, peace and happiness.

As I continue to write I glance over my screen and my son is growling out of his pink snorkel at his little sister. He is unawares of whether or not his pink snorkel affects his reputation or his swag. He is simply loving life, loving summer and occupying the space he is in with confidence and much laughter. My prayer, for all my children, is that when they are 12 they have magical memories…. just like their Mumma. The life of a 12 year old… beautiful, simple, uncomplicated and FUN.

I love my memories and I love the memories my kiddos are making….

Susan xoxox

A Caring Teacher

As parents we have all been exposed to the ‘Parent Teacher Interview’. I remember as a child dreading the return of my parents following their interview with my teachers. I knew they would hear the standard, which was always:

1) Susan’s grades are good
2) Susan talks too much in class
3) Susan socializes too much in class

Needless to say, I was a busy student and the social side of school was very important to me.

Interestingly, I seem to have similar interviews with my children. My three children all do very in school and they are extremely social. I’m reminded, once again that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, which brings me to my story about a very caring teacher.

Two years ago, my daughter (Sophia), who is an A+ student, was in her first year of junior high. Grade/Year 7, as we all know, is an interesting transition. Elementary school and its structure and teacher-driven schedules seem to fly away the moment you walk into the ‘other’ side of the school. My daughter, who has always been extremely social and usually very capable of handling her school work plus her social behaviour, found herself in this new world of self-discipline, student-driven schedules, no recesses to chat and linger and a heavier work load. The balancing act she was accustomed to didn’t seem to be working in junior high.

Report cards came out and surprisingly a few of her grades had dipped. Thankfully, they only dipped ever so slightly but this was something she nor her teachers had ever seen before. Parent Teacher interview time quickly approached and I received an email from her Geography History teacher, Mr Dowhan.

Mr Dowhan knew Sophia well and he knew what she was capable of. His email requested that Sophia be present at our interview. With a request like this, her father and I quickly agreed.  On the day of the interview I could tell that my lovely Sophia was slightly nervous and unsure of what Mr Dowhan’s intentions were. Through her eyes I could see concern – the same concern I (her mother) had as a 13-year-old girl. What would he tell my parents? Is he going to tell them how much I talk and focus on socializing rather than listening? How much trouble am I going to be in after this? She was clearly unsettled and deeply concerned about what would be revealed during the conversation.

As her parents (and like most parents) we know our kids well. I was pretty sure that Mr Dowhan was going to highlight Sophia’s socializing and the dip in her grade was due to her lack of attention, etc. I wasn’t worried but I played the parent card well and let my (at the time) 12-year-old daughter know how serious this was, we were being called in by the teacher and her presence was requested. It was serious.

We arrived at the interview and Sophia was nervous but poised. Mr Dowhan began to talk to us about her marks and went through his detailed information. We all listened intently and then Mr Dowhan asked Philip and I if he could direct the conversation towards Sophia. We always knew that Mr Dowhan was a great teacher and the students greatly respected him, but for Philip and I, this is when Mr Downhan showed who he really was and the the extraordinary teacher that he is. Mr Dowhan said to Sophia, “Sophia, you are a very smart girl, you are sociable, very outgoing and a joy to teach. You engage in interesting conversation and you have a great interest in your classes. Unfortunately, your marks aren’t reflecting this. Sophia, you are better than this, you are a scholar student and you are operating below your natural ability.” He went on to ask her if she was happy with her grades and if she thought this was her best effort.

He talked to her and during the conversation he masterfully allowed Sophia to see what she was capable of through her schooling. He brought her to a place that was hard, she had to accept responsibility and then make a mature decision to make the necessary changes to bring the gold that he saw within her. Mr Dowhan is a wonderful teacher and an engaging teacher, as I said earlier the kids respect him, they have fun with him whilst he teaches them. In this instance, Mr Dowhan put on the strong teacher hat and took an opportunity with our child to set her on the right track. Mr Dowhan challenged her, corrected her and disciplined her. He did this wisely and seasoned with wisdom.

Sophia came away from our meeting inspired and grateful. She recognized what Mr Clooney did and how he took a risk at telling her exactly what he thought. She knew he wasn’t impressed with the work she was putting forward, she had disappointed him and us. Sophia determined that day to accept Mr. Dowhan’s challenge and from that day on, instead of grade 7 being a weird and awkward year, it became a year she will remember. We are grateful that Mr Clooney took the time to simply care about his student. He truly is a caring teacher and a teacher I believe Sophia will remember for lifetime all because he cared about her and made a point of really teaching her.

What Mr Dowhan did in that interview was true teaching. Yes, he is her Geography/History teacher and he helps her learn about the world but that day he truly taught a young girl how to be all that she can be. That’s why we are grateful. Sophia was given the opportunity to see herself through eyes other than her own, other than her parents, she saw herself through the eyes of a teacher who believes in her. Sophia is once again excelling in every area of school life, her grades are back to their great standing and her social life remains strong and healthy.

To all the teachers out there, may you never underestimate or forget the incredible impact you have and can have on young lives. Kids need your wisdom and to simply know, like Mr Dowhan, that you care.

Susan xo

The Red Plate Theory



Well, friends, it’s finally here. My explanation behind many Facebook, Instagram and Twitter mentions or pictures of the ‘Red Plate’. I posted a quick update on my different social media platforms about the Red Plate and had since been asked (countless) times to share the wisdom behind the Red Plate. So, here it is (finally)!

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Parenting- 5 Mums Weigh In on GetRealLive: Listen on Demand


We kicked off our Parenting Week with a panel of 5 awesome moms (Suzanne Crocker, Nora Seto, Clare Bonnor, Heather Thirsk, Jess Fluery and our very own resident mum…. Susan Sohn)

These amazing mums weighed in on topics such as: Raising Kids, the challenges, what they are learning and what they would tell their younger mum selves.



A few highlights from the show:

  • When asked what she loved about being a mum and parenting, Clare Bonnor replied with, “I just love being with them. I love spending time with my kids. It’s hectic at times but I love the time we have together.”
  • When asked what she would tell her younger mum self, Jess Fluery replied with, “You don’t need to be perfect. Don’t worry.”
  • Heather Thirsk told our listeners that she would ‘listen more and would try and recognise when they were actually talking to her.’
  • Suzie Crocker said, ‘After raising kids for this long I would choose wisely what battles I would fight and when dealing with a challenging young boy you need to learn to walk away.’
  • Nora Seto shared her stories of juggling 4 kids and schedules and how she manages to simply make the day work. Oh, and all of them comment on how they manage (and sometimes don’t) to keep the house looking….. well, lived in.

These are just SOME of the bits of wisdom this panel shared. We can’t wait to have them on again in the fall to share further about their lives and how they are managing the kids, the house, the marriage and everything else that’s thrown their way.

Comments from some of our Listeners following/during today’s show:

  • Thanks to the Mom Panel for the much needed encouragement today! It’s so refreshing hearing “real” moms talk about their experiences and wisdom. ~ Jodee 
  • I’m a mom of a 3 year old and a 1.5 year old. All you ladies are giving me hope and reassurance of where I am at now. ~ Cara It felt so good to know that I was normal. So refreshing to hear that you can freak out/loose your marbles & keep going. ~ Jennifer 
  • I’ve never been able to access content like this. So real and so raw. Thank You Get Real Live. ~ Rebecca

We encourage you to listen as these experts share their ‘in the trenches’ wisdom coupled with great wit. It’s a ‘must listen’ for anyone who has or is wanting to have kids. These mums are experts and the advice and honest conversation will be an encouragement and support to anyone who listens.

Listen on demand below or download from iTunes. You can follow GetRealLive by liking us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. As always you can Listen LIVE each day at 9:30 Mt/ 8:30am Pac and join the conversation by calling in at 718 508 9042. Life is boring without you!

Listen to internet radio with Susan J Sohn on Blog Talk Radio
Lunch Lady & Taxi Mum
Well, the school year is almost over. Seriously, in our home, the count down is on and I’m so ready for the end of year parties to start. I’ve calculated, from today I have 66 lunches to make, countless loads of laundry (no point even counting because it never ends) and approx. 46 round trips from home to school. This doesn’t include the 3 days a week my son needs to be at school at 7am for Basketball and Volleyball practices. If I were to include those that would mean my round trips to school would be more like 61 and that just seems like a lot and I, like many other parents, feel like shifted to auto pilot.
This morning was one of those early morning Volleyball practices that my son needed to get to. I actually love these mornings because it means just he and I and the early morning routine. We operate like a well oiled machine, all in an effort to get him to the practice on time. As I was driving him I was quietly making my calculations as I thought of the end of the year. I was wondering what I could do to ‘spice’ up lunches and not allow myself to fall into the ‘lazy’ or ‘unhealthy’ category. I was pondering the back and forth car rides and it my auto pilot light was switched on. Although I enjoy the early mornings with him, I was/am tired and I’m ready for the lazy summer days that are in reach.
I know many parents know what I’m talking about… Taxi Mum and Taxi Dad. Constantly going from one thing to the other. I have come to understand and appreciate why my parents choose to raise us in small town Saskatchewan. We could walk everywhere, the to and fro for our parents looked very different than mine.
As we approached the school I could tell my son was getting excited, he loves both Volleyball and Basketball and he loves learning new skill sets. He sat beside me in the front seat (he’s just recently graduated to the front which is exciting) full of confidence and ready to face the day. He had his school bag firmly in his hand and his lunch in the other. His gym clothes were on and his uniform neatly tucked in another bag that he was managing. As we reached the front door of the school and he made his way out of the car, he turned to me and said, “Thanks for driving me Mum, thanks for getting up and making sure I get here. It’s really nice of you.”
With that, my heart melted and every calculation I made seemed to melt away. Did he sense my thought pattern? Did he notice the fatigue through our conversation? I wonder what prompted him to graciously thank me, this morning, for something I’ve done week after week after week? I looked at him, with wonder and love in my eyes and heart and replied, “My darling boy I would wake at any hour and drive you anywhere. I’m so proud of who you are and thank you for saying thank you. It means a lot.” With that he gave me his signature smile, a smile that has captivated me for 11 years.
So friends, like many of you, there is one more month of school left and I’m reminded that ‘it’s not how you start, rather it’s how you finish.’ I’m choosing to finish strong, I’m turning the auto pilot off and weaved between work and every other demand on life right now, I choose to remain a strong lunch lady and taxi mum.
To all the other parents out there….. Good luck and enjoy these last days before we launch into summer.
A little reminder for everyone…. We would love you to join us every weekday morning for GetRealLive Radio 9:30-10:30am.
Listen to GetRealLive on demand or on iTunes. Today we talked Parenting and asked are children parenting the parents?

Listen to internet radio with Susan J Sohn on Blog Talk Radio