You turned 13 this month.
You are now a teenager.
I don’t know how that happened either, but it did. I swear it was last Mother’s Day that you came roaring into our lives…but it wasn’t, was it?
Before I became a Mom, all I really knew were babies and toddlers. Those were the ages of the kids I babysat for, the ones I liked the most. When I envisioned being a mom, I pictured chubby cheeked infants (which you were), sturdy-legged toddlers (also you) and that was about it. I didn’t give much thought to parenting a child, let alone a teen. I realize it seems silly when I write it out, but that’s the God’s honest truth.
This year, you started 7th grade. You moved out of your small, protected Catholic school with 14 kids in your entire grade to the public middle school with 200 kids in your grade. You know your father and I battled about this – he wanted to send you to a Catholic school 45 minutes away to keep you safe and swaddled. And I did too- but the logistics just didn’t work so instead, I became the cheerleader for our local public school hoping hoping hoping you would thrive there, all the while so freaking nervous about it, I couldn’t sleep some nights.
When I think back to my middle school years, I just remember how precarious things were. Friendships were constantly shifting, bodies were morphing, voices were changing – nothing was static and, for someone like me, who loves to know what’s going on all the time, it was scary as all get out. But middle school in 1991 is very different than middle school in 2019 so I held out hope that your experience would be better than mine.
I warned you that things would change this year. Friendships may not be the same, dating was going to become a thing and expectations were going to be a lot higher. We established some ground rules, let you (little, slight, small YOU) join the modified football team and prayed things were going to be OK.
And you know what? They weren’t OK.
They were amazing.
You, my funny, goofy, amazing kid, thrived in 7th grade. Yup, friendships were challenged, dating was a thing (not for you though – sorry, your parents are mean) and expectations were a lot higher – but you met them all. Except for that 43 in Orchestra- but you fixed that fast enough and took allllllllll the teasing that went along with it (because, really, who gets a 43 in Orchestra?!) with good humor and determination to do better. You learned how to schedule your time, take responsibility and make things happen.
You made new friends, learned a whole hell of a lot of new words, saw a lot of fights, decided both your father and I were cringy at various times during the year, learned that just because your friends “shipped” you with a girl doesn’t mean you have to date them, saw that the world is made up of a lot of different colors and sexualities and took advantage of a lot of the opportunities offered to you.
You have always been one of my favorite kids in the world, but, to my absolutely delight, you’re growing into one of my favorite people in the world.
So now, 7th grade is almost done and you’re 13. We’re seeing glimpses of the part of teenagedom we were warned about- the hormones, the dramatics, allllll the feelings. I know it won’t always be sunshine and rainbows, but I’m hoping we’ll keep talking to each other, sharing our experiences and working forward. I’ve promised you this a million times – your family will always be the first to support you when you try new things, the first to correct you when you’re being a jerk and your safe place to land no matter what.
Here’s what I hope for you in your 13th year:
- Keep being kind. You’ve seen the kids that don’t have kindness in their lives this year – how they act, what they do. Don’t be that kid. Be the kid that makes sure people are OK and lend a helping hand. It costs you nothing, but it could mean the world to someone else.
- Use your position to lift others up. Don’t ever punch down to make yourself feel better, you’re better than that.
- Keep making new friends. The friends you’ve had forever- keep them close and cherish them. But don’t be afraid to meet new people too. Befriend the band kid, the art kid, the computer kid – they all have amazing stories to tell.
- Hold on tight to your self-confidence. Know that you are worthy of good things and make smart decisions even if they aren’t popular decisions. Being a leader is freaking hard work – do it anyhow.
- Take advantage of the opportunities school provides you. You’re going to a big public school with sports, groups and organizations. Explore them all to find your passion.
While I couldn’t have imagined raising a teen 16 years ago when we we started trying to expand our family, now I can’t stop being amazed over how very lucky I am to be doing so. I’m so excited for you, Scorch. It’s a privilege to watch you grow, knowing how many fun things are coming for you – new friends, first loves, learning to drive, going to dances, heart breaks, discovering what makes you happy, finding your true tribe, going to college.
So, here’s to 13. May it be your best year yet, my boy – and if it’s not, know that we’ll love you no matter what.
All my love,