Monday, September 3, 2012

On Turning Thirteen

A dear friend of mine recently wrote a group of friends and asked if we could contribute to a book she was putting together for her daughter, who was turning thirteen. This is what I sent, minus the name. It just so happens that this beautiful young woman was born the day before another dear friends' daughter, and, well, since I can remember my own boy rolling around on the rug with these girls when they were all babies, it seems fitting to post it here, as well. I am focusing mighty hard on these young people in the coming months, holding them in my minds eye during election season. Because as exasperated as I get with rhetoric, I happen to know for a fact, that these fine young people will see us through to the other side.

Dear S,

You won't remember me, but I feel as though I know you. I met you when you were first born in Los Angeles (technically, I met you before that when your mom and dad first found out they were pregnant), I babysat for you a few times and have followed your life as your mom has posted wonderful things about you on Facebook. I haven't seen you since you were about 4 or 5, and I can't quite wrap my brain around the fact that you are going to be a teenager!

As a mother myself, of a boy almost two years younger than you, I have to tell you how hopeful I am for the future of our country, and our world. Your generation has so many advantages that previous generations have not. I am not just speaking of technology, I am also speaking of bravery, of truth, of knowledge and new ways of looking at the world. I truly believe that, just as we humans have evolved to lose our tails and stand erect, future generations, beginning with this one, are developing a very finely honed bullshit meter. It might not be an easy thing, but more than ever before, you have more information at your fingertips, to sort through, to disseminate fact from fiction. You are exposed to more of everything, and at a lightening pace. If you can always find and listen to that still small voice inside you, the one that says "yes" or "that's a load of hooey", you will be better than okay. You will be YOU, and that is what the world is so in need of right now.

I remember being your age and walking with my dad. He was the age I am now, and I couldn't get over how SLOW he was. This was way before personal computers and cell phones. This was just out WALKING, for heaven's sake. And now I see the same exasperation in my son's eyes when I can't keep up in some way - sharp mental acuity is the province of the young.

Something to take into account, though, before you all roll your eyes at your doddering parents. Our hesitance, our "slowness", if you will, is merely the gift of time that we have been given. It's like we are watching a giant clock that began to run the moment you were born, and our measured pace is merely the desire to have more time with you. Not necessarily to stop you from growing up, we know this to be inevitable and feel certain the world will be lucky to get such amazing young adults; but to hold on for a bit longer to the idea that you belong to us, the notion that we can protect you and guide you to make the right decisions, before it's time for you to do those things on your own. Just to hold on to you a bit longer. To marvel at you, to enjoy you, and to make sure you know how to wash your dishes and fold a t-shirt. That is our small contribution to your amazing selves. Well, that, and to see you safely through puberty, which is like teething was for you as a baby, with less drool. The next few years are sure to provide you with moments of uncertainty, but don't be fooled by those crazy hormones. Get still, if you can, get quiet, and listen hard to hear your truth, and remember that feelings are not facts. They are fleeting, and while they are of great worth to shape your experiences in life, they are only part of the equation. When you feel overwhelmed by them, that's a good time to take a nap, or eat an apple. Or sit next to your mom on the couch, and lean your head on her shoulder and just be you.

Magnificent teenager.

Lots of love and Happy Birthday,

Annie McQ

1 comment:

Lady Di said...

Thank you. Miss you; finally trolling (or would that be trawling) blogs today for the first time in ages. Liked your other newer posts too, but this one made me tear up. Take care!