About a year and a half ago, I discovered a magical teenager. She was found during a serendipitous visit to my neighbors house — her mother is good friends with my neighbor and I am honored to say my friend, too. This magic girl was CPR certified, receives reasonable grades, is in band, active in D.E.C.A., and is an amazing cheerleader. Quite amazingly, she agreed to babysit my wild pack of three. Even more amazingly, she loves my children, even the naughty one, and is a beautiful soul. Whenever I think about her, I feel such love and pride for her, and I am sure this is what her own parents must feel.
Her parents have done a miraculous feat in rearing this child! And while I am sure she isn’t a peach all the time (who is?), one thing is for certain: she is a damn good kid. What always stops me in my tracks after each time I see her, talk to her, or have her babysit is how different she is compared to the way I used to be as a teenager. When she turned sixteen, I wrote her a list of things I wish someone had told me when I had turned sixteen.
I told her:
- It’s OK if you still call your mom and dad “Mommy and Daddy”.
- High school is only four years, not forever.
- Not everyone is having sex, you won’t be left out if you chose to wait.
- You really can “Just Say No”.
- There is nothing fun happening after curfew — it is easier to just go home than to explain why you are late.
- Tell your parents you love them, especially your momma.
- Choose kindness, you never know what someone else is living through.
- Love your siblings, they will be your best friends when you are an adult.
From the age of about sixteen until about twenty-two, all I wanted to do was go out and party. I wasn’t the worse behaved “party girl”, but I definitely could have laid off some activities. I wasn’t the biggest “hot mess” out there, but I definitely broke more hearts than I am comfortable with. While I am now old enough to now see much of my behavior at those ages were a cry for help, I still feel a large amount of embarrassment.
Sometimes, the things you say and do will last a lifetime. Even if people around you forgive you, you might never forgive yourself. I am glad that our magical teenage will, hopefully, learn some of these lessons from me. I hope she grows up and stays kind. This teenager made me see that not all teenagers choose the path I did. She made me remember how special teenagers are, how hard they are working to become adults. We put such pressure on them to conform to so many different ideals and instead of failing miserably, our teenager seems to rise to the challenge.
So, if you have a magical teenager in your life make sure you tell them you love them. Tell them they are doing a good job. Make sure you let them fail, but also let them know you will be there to help pick them up. Most of all, smile because this lasts but a moment.