10 Nov
2015
Posted in: parenting
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For Our Teenage Son

I quietly listened to an acquaintance lament about life with a teenage son. I knew she expected me to jump in with my own complaints, but I wasn’t taking the bait.

I spent years listening to people tell me to just wait until I had a teenager. It always sounded ominous.

Our man/child first born is, at the worst, annoying, loud, selfish and stinky. I know the teenage waters have potential to become choppy and murky over the years, but for now I’m not complaining. Being a person, trying to figure out who you are is tough. I’m still doing it.

I remember being in junior high. I was overweight and on the fringe of several social groups. I was awkward and lonely. I wanted to fit squarely in place somewhere, anywhere. That girl creeps her way back into life even now. It turns out I have a lot in common with my teenager.

I’m no longer overweight, but still feel outside looking into various social circles. At times I feel lonely and misplaced. I’m emotional and irrational. I still have skin issues. I want to be chosen and accepted. I vacillate from being sure-footed in my place in life to uncertainty and unease. He’d roll his eyes at my proclamations of understanding, but navigating any new version of you at whatever age is tricky business.

teenage boy standing in the woods

He’s waded through this first year of being a teen minus a best friend who moved away, a football injury that affected him mentally more than physically, witnessing others face consequences from adult decisions teens aren’t equipped to make and being at the receiving end of someone else’s physical rage. He knows people who have made conversations on sex, depression, and anxiety imperative for him to better understand the battles others face and hopefully, help steer him from those same fights.

He’s weathered it well. He’s more level-headed than I was in 7th grade and possibly more than I am now at 38. I know he’ll make questionable choices, but I hope we can direct him away from the worst of the options.

I find this teen my chubby little toddler morphed into complicated and fascinating. I hear and see glimpses of the competent adult he’ll one day be. He’s charming and comfortable in a group. He’s sarcastic like his mama, who finds it annoying at times. He listens to his music too loud and all the time. He struggles with making sense of the senseless in the world around him. I cry, quite often, for the same reason.

Son, it’s tough to tune out the world. Voices will wheedle their way in making you doubt your worth and place. You may, at times, feel stupid, unloved, ugly and misunderstood. You’re none of those things. I get those emotions; I really do, even though you won’t believe me when I say it.

Your dad and I are excited for the opportunity to raise a teenager, to help guide you and to witness who you become. I no longer give merit to those voices that have lost hope for the future with a shake of their heads at “kids these days.” We see you and your friends. In you, I see hope for the future world-changers. Your generation is better than most believe. I’m confident all the nay-sayers fretting over the caliber of people currently being raised will be proven mistaken in their beliefs.

Remember, you’re never alone in this life journey. Someone shares or remembers what you and your friends are feeling and experiencing. We’re here when you triumph as well as when you stumble.  We’re all people searching for our best self and tweaking it along the way.

 

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