One of our granddaughters just turned thirteen and I watched in awe as a little girl was transformed into young womanhood. Last summer she and her friends played on the beach, built sand castles and watched cartoons. This year they lay on their stomachs reading People magazines, texting and talking. What a difference a year makes! I am so lucky that her parents did a fine job of helping her be ready for the next phase of her life. I can relax knowing that with any luck, the dangerous shoals of adolescence will be successfully navigated.I have so many memories of my own teenage years, some of them painful, others helping to determine my future. One anecdote I can relate had to do with dating. My father had a rule that there would be NO dating until his six daughters reached the age of sixteen. Since I did not reach sixteen until December of my junior year, it seemed extremely unfair. As a thirteen-year old freshman I had a crush on a senior basketball star who seemed to feel the same about me. During the entire year our relationship was confined to dancing at school dances to which my father took me and picked me up, seeing each other in the school hallways, and watching "my love" play basketball. On one glorious occasion he came over and handed me his special school hat at a game for all to see. My heart went totally crazy. That night and for many other nights I slept with it under my pillow, the scent of "Old Spice" coloring my dreams.
It all ended at the senior prom. He finally asked me out and I decided to see if my dad would change his mind for this all important event. I picked a good time, used every persuasive ounce I could muster, and asked my father if I could go. Of course he said "no" and I remember flouncing away pronouncing that I hated him, so that he could fully experience my ire. Of course "my love" asked someone else to the dance, and to make matters worse it was one of my classmates. I carried the torch for a couple of years until I finally realized that my dad was a pretty wise guy. By the way, it never even occurred to me to sneak out, so my parents must have done something right in that department.Here's a little poem I made up in honor of teens and their parents. Perhaps it will help to not take everything so seriously. Of course, my wisdom came too late to apply during my own parenting of teens years ago. Enjoy.
It's fun to be the grandma of a brand new teen
to watch the changes taking place and what those changes mean.
Farewell to childhood fancies, hello to distant looks
when friends mean more than family, and texting more than books.
And watching takes me back in time to my own teenage days
when life was all about "the now" and what each person says.
How wonderful and awful as we strove to understand,
rejecting counsel from our folks who tried to lend a hand.
To families of this strange new being I have one thing to say
If you laid a good foundation, you'll soon see a better day.
In the meantime, try to remember how important it was to fit in.
Use empathy and humor. . . be the parent you wish yours had been.