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"See ya later, Mom." "Bye, Dad, I'm going out!" Do these phrases sound familiar?

Summer vacation is almost over, but there's still some time before school starts. Before you jump into your friend's new Neon, think about some other things you could be doing. You want to spend as much time with your friends as possible, right? Your years together are numbered. But did you ever consider hanging out with your parents?

Many people think families are evil. OK, well, maybe they don't, but families in general don't spend a lot of time together as a unit. It's something that starts young. You don't want Mom to give you that kiss when you get out of the car in front of school. You turn a deep shade of magenta when Dad yells out that he loves you. But as I have aged, I have realized that perhaps the parental units aren't so spacey.

Try a picnic in the park. Fry some burgers and wieners and bring along that Frisbee that has been sitting in the bottom of your closet for the past eight years. If picnics aren't your thing, how about a trip to the movies? With all the latest releases, you can probably find one that captures the entire family's interest. How about a rousing game of pinochle? My mom and dad taught my sister, Amanda, and me how to play.

Allison Miller, 16, of Clarence, enjoys doing things with her family. They recently took a trip to Toronto to see "Les Miserables." Allison said, "I've always enjoyed doing things with my mom and dad. I love hanging out with my friends, but a Broadway musical is a wee bit out of my friends' personal spending ranges."

Family vacations. Ugh. You watch the teen-agers on the sitcoms sit in a corner of a glorious hotel with their arms folded. "You guys are dorks; I'm not leaving this room." Mimicking TV stereotypes is never fun. I for one thoroughly enjoyed the Pendolino clan's trek to Myrtle Beach, S.C. Sure, the two-day car ride with a 12-year-old sister and a 5-year-old brother was a little difficult, but once we got there, POOF!, everyone got along.

I have to say that this summer has gone pretty well. I've spent time with my buds and my family. Family togetherness won't last long, and before you know it, you'll be leaving for college. Take heed, and hang with your family.

Maria Pendolino will be a junior at Clarence Senior High School.

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