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Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.


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Spend time with me!

By CECILIA TUCKER

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 26, 2001


Do you know how I feel about you spending time with me? I didn't ask if you knew what I said about how I feel about you spending time with me! I know what I say to you, and I know how I act when we are alone together. But some of the time, I wish you wouldn't read my body language and my lips. I wish you would do what your instincts tell you and spend time with me even if I push you away.

I know I act like I hate you sometimes. I realize that I send you a direct message that you are the last person on the face of the Earth with whom I am interested in being. But I lie! I've been thinking about the times that we do spend together. Do you have any clue when that happens? Do you know under what circumstances our so-called "time together" is centered on? Do you know how much time we really do spend together in the course of a week?

I think I have the answers to some of these questions. Usually, we spend time together when you are angry or upset with me. Most of our time together is spent with you lecturing me about something I have done wrong or something I didn't do at all. We seem to be together when there is a problem I have created and you need to tell me the punishment I am receiving for my "choices."

We seem to spend time with each other during heated conversations and over hurt feelings. These conversations often occur in the car when you can give me a piece of your mind and I have to hear it because there is nowhere else for me to go. We do spend time together at meals but usually we eat, clean up the table and then go our separate ways.

I appear to be fine with this arrangement but in truth, there are times I wish we could sit at the table and talk. No, I will never ask you to do that and if you ask me to do that, I will act "put out." But please ask me anyway. I will get over my attitude and I will stay and talk if you keep inviting me for a conversation on a regular basis.

I don't need for you to be nosy and invasive in my private life but I am willing to talk to you about some things. I know I make it hard because I act like I don't care whether or not you are interested in my life. I hate it more than I will ever let you know that we talk only in bad times.

I don't know why I need to keep my life from you. I am afraid that if I let you in a little bit that you will need to give me advice. I also fear that instead of supporting my choices you will need to criticize my decisions. I want to be in control of my life as much as possible and this seems to be a battleground between us. I need to talk to you but I don't need you to "talk at me!" I'll bet this is really hard for you to understand but please try to hear me this time.

At times, I feel scared about what I have to decide in life. I need your confidence and trust as I make these hard decisions. Don't misunderstand what I am saying. I want you to be there for me. This is not about me being there for you. You are the adult and supposedly I am the child. I don't want your problems. I have enough of my own. This is not to say if you are having bad times that I will walk away from you. More than likely, if you are having a bad time, I will be affected in some way.

So, how much together time do we really spend during each week? Does it really matter? What matters now is that I wish we could have some good time together each week and that almost never happens. I do need time with you but it is not in me to ask for it. I need for you not to let my stubborn, curt attitude run you away from me. When you run from me, I find myself saying I don't care . . . it doesn't matter. But it does! Please find a way to spend positive moments with me.

* * *

IT! (Private thoughts of the Indomitable Teen) is written by Cecilia Tucker, a licensed marriage and family therapist at the Counseling Center for New Direction in Seminole. Tucker, who has been in counseling practice since 1979, writes this column under the guidance of a panel of teenage advisers, who approve the topics and offer their insights (in exchange for pizza). You may write her c/o: IT!, X-Press, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or e-mail Floridian@sptimes.com.

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