You are now 15. And the time has finally come for you to butter your own waffles and make your own chocolate milk every morning. That was the deal – you can have social media at 15 in exchange for some self-sufficiency. So, happy birthday kiddo- the butter is in the fridge.
How are you 15 years old? How do you have friends that are driving now? How are you within spitting distance of the end of your freshman year of high school? This- all of this– is a mystery to me.
Here is what I do know. I know I freaking adore you. You are a delight 95% of the time. Hysterically funny, kind hearted, smart, witty and mostly a joy. You have shown more grace, tenacity and adaptability than most adults I know during this pandemic year. The end of your 8th grade year ended with a whimper. Asynchronous school, no sports and a hell of a lot of uncertainty. We went from 100 to 0 overnight – it was jarring and scary for everyone. My anxiety was elevated, so I worried you were going to struggle, but you rolled with the punches with a level of maturity I didn’t know you had.
For your 14th birthday, I took you on a hike (alllllll we did was hike), made you some BBQ chicken and we sat outside, socially distanced from people who stopped by. Sadly, this year looks like it’s going to be an exact repeat of last year since we’re all in quarantine. I’m so, so, sorry about this, bud- more than you can know. But a month or so after your birthday last year, life opened up a bit more with travel baseball, a family vacation and a social bubble that included your best friends. I have no doubt we’ll rebound from this quarantine with no problems either.
You entered 9th grade going to school full time in person this past September. You’re taking enhanced courses, a foreign language, and a graphic design course. You’ve learned to balance your time, prioritize, and juggle a hell of a lot all the while playing two sports. You skipped football this year since football was jammed between basketball and baseball and, let’s face it, baseball is your one true love.
All in all, 9th grade and your 14th year, hasn’t been all that bad despite Covid-19. You had your first girlfriend, you got to go to school with most of your friends, you lived through a huge home addition / construction project that netted you a new, big bedroom. Hell, we even let you get a TV in your room – something I said I was NEVER going to allow, but Covid quarantines and my need for sanity made a liar out of me. You still hang with the same amazing group of kids outside of school – you and your group of best friends really hasn’t changed since you were little. But you’re happy to hang out with who ever you’re around, wherever you happen to be. Your adaptability and complete faith that everyone wants to be your friend is one of my favorite parts of you.
Every year, I share what I hope for you for this upcoming year. So, sweet child, here is what I wish for you for your 15th year:
- Never stop being interested. Ask questions, challenge assumptions and be curious about the world around you.
- Don’t try to plan your life out. You’re 15 – you’re not supposed to know the answers. Ask questions and feel your way around. No one expects you to have your life planned out no matter what they imply – right now your interests should vary and change. I’m 42 and I’m still figuring out what I want to be when I grow up. Take this time to learn everything you can, keep your grades up, and set yourself up for success no matter what path you choose.
- Know that this life is yours. Despite us not expecting you to know everything, we do expect you to be mature enough to start making some decisions on your own. Start exercising your ability to say no or yes. Say yes to the things that bring you joy. Say no to things that you know aren’t right – for you, your friends and your safety.
- Make smart decisions. Oh sweet boy, as awesome as it is that the world is opening up to you, it scares me silly. You’re going to be presented with situations, scenarios and decisions that you have to be so smart about. Being smart won’t always be cool and it won’t always be easy – but you know in your gut what’s right and what’s wrong. Listen to your gut, always.
- Be kind. I say this every year and so far, you’ve done a good job of listening. You, child, are the total package and with that comes responsibility. Be kind to others. Choose to lift others up instead of stepping on them. Always punch up, never down.
- Treat your romantic partners exactly how you want your sister to be treated. Be respectful, be polite and always, always ask for consent. Never assume liberties, take their interests into account and don’t be a douche.
- Insist your romantic partners give you the same consideration. I don’t give a hoot who you date as long as they treat you well. Kindness, consideration, manners and consent are things that should be given in equal measures on both sides – don’t waste your time on a partner who doesn’t treat you well.
- Know that you can always ask for help. I don’t care what you need help with, we’ll provide it. From homework to a ride home after you’ve made dumb decisions (because you will make dumb decisions), we will always, always help you. Never doubt that – you, your safety, the safety of your friends, etc are the most important thing in the world to your dad and I. We may yell, we may holler and we may huff in annoyance, but we’ll be there. But we won’t bail you out if you mess up. Bearing responsibility for your decisions is part of growing up, kiddo.
- Remember that social media is forever. Now that you’re 15, you have social media. NOTHING you post is private. NOTHING is temporary. Be mindful of what you post, be intentional and don’t do anything that can come back to haunt you. No bullying, no sexting, no name calling, nada. Don’t learn this the hard way.
I hope your 15th year is awesome, bud! Keep being the amazing kid you are, mind your manners, be smart, and take chances. Hold your friends tight, but don’t be afraid to make new ones. Do things that make your happy, that scare you and that help you grow as a person. Keep learning, pick up a book or two and remember how very loved you are.
All my love,