A Sarine Thought… or Two

photo by Matt Cornelius
photo by Matt Cornelius

Even Then: A Reminder to My Teenage Child

Well, here we are at the stage of your life I have simultaneously anticipated with excitement but also feared to the Nth degree. I think I have had these feelings because I can still so vividly remember what it was like to be a teenager. Your infancy, toddler and small childhood consisted of your father and me shooting from the hip when relating to you because we had little to no memory of what it was like to be a baby. You’re still here and don’t completely hate us, so I guess our aim was pretty good!

In all seriousness, the years we are embarking upon are about to be full of some truly epic moments. If the last decade-plus is any indication of how fast these years will fly, we are in for a wild ride. So, I wanted to take the time now, at the beginning, to write down something I want you to always remember as you continue to grow up and become more independent. I know if I don’t tell you now, I will inevitably forget to remind you of this every time I should, and this information is too important for you not to have at key moments in your life. So, here goes...

First of all, your teenage years are going to be full of some FANTASTIC “first” moments: your first dance, your first time to drive a car, your first time representing your school as an athlete or scholar in a competitive arena, your first date, your first time to vote, your first acceptance letter to college, and that’s just naming a few! These are moments you will remember fondly. It’s the good stuff. While you’re experiencing your “firsts,” you will probably be nervous, anxious, and possibly a little afraid. That’s totally normal. Don’t let these feelings stop you. Go out there and get it done! Once you get started, the nerves will disappear, and you will get to enjoy it. And remember, while you are out there experiencing all the “firsts,” you are loved.

There are also going to be some low moments during your teen years: getting your heart broken, breaking someone else’s heart, failing to make a team or a good grade, failing to make your curfew and being grounded for a while. Your eyes are going to be opened to things you have been sheltered from because you weren’t ready to experience them yet. You’ll see stuff like the hardships and realities of how ugly the world can be. You will experience adversity and encounter roadblocks when moving towards some of your goals. These times can be hard and you’re going to feel you are the only person on the face of the earth who has ever walked a path as difficult as this. But you will be wrong. Everyone experiences these lows to some degree. So, when you feel lonely, demoralized, discouraged, and disillusioned, especially then, remember you are loved.

As a teenager, you will also acquire more freedom and responsibilities. The older you get, the less I will be involved in the daily minutia of your activities and relationships. While this is super hard for me (because I enjoy knowing all the things when it comes to you), this is right and the way it should be. This doesn’t mean I won’t know anything... trust me, I’ve got eyes everywhere... but it does mean I will know less and will trust you more to make wise decisions based on what your father and I have taught you. While more freedom may sound like the best part of this two-sided coin, it is the added responsibility that will actually do you the most good as an adult. So, when you are asked to do more around the house or in the way of helping family, friends and neighbors, know you are being asked to better prepare you for the realities of adulthood. We want you to be better prepared, knowing what to do and how to do it well. We aren’t asking you to do the stuff we just don’t want to do anymore. We are helping you to develop a skill set that will enable you to have a more secure footing on the grounds of adulthood. (The fact that we don’t have to do those chores any more is just icing on the cake... Ha!) So, when you feel like too much is being asked of you or too little freedom is being granted, remember, it’s all because you are loved.

You are going to experience some major victories over the next few years as well. You will discover your strengths and interests, hone skills you have had for a while and develop new ones that will enable you to soar to new heights of achievement. You won’t have the details of who you are all figured out by the time you turn 20, but you will be well on your way to connecting small pieces of yourself together in order to reach your goals. You’ll do some amazing things and you are going to receive some applause, some credit, some recognition, some awards, and some accolades. During these high times, rejoice because you are loved.

You are going to screw up. Possibly royally. This isn’t because you are a horrible human being. It’s just because you ARE a human being. During the teenage years, your mouth can run at about 1,000 miles per hour while your brain is running at about 32 miles per hour up and down some extremely curvaceous terrain. Because of your DNA, the cards are stacked against you in terms of saying things you don’t mean, meaning things you don’t say, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person and/or people, as well as just spewing the vitriol of your feelings without warning others to take cover. Speaking as someone who has needed to have the Heimlich maneuver performed on her to remove her toes from her throat because she has stuck her foot so far into her mouth on multiple occasions, these moments will not be on your life’s highlight reel. I apologize in advance for my part in the struggle. You will be presented with a lot of decisions to make. Many times, you will make good decisions. Sometimes you will make bad ones. When you make the right decision, there will be celebration and rewards. When you make the wrong decision, there will be consequences, but there won’t be judgment. So, no matter what decision you make, remember, you are loved.

As the next few years unfold, and you continue on this journey toward becoming who God made you to be, you will require less parental monitoring and more parental trust. This is going to be hard and exhilarating all at the same time. We will hug. We will argue. We will agree. We will disagree. There will be rewards. There will be discipline. There will be laughs. There will be tears. There will be LOTS of feelings. But in the midst of all these things, remember most importantly, you, my dear child, are so very, very loved.


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