i’ve been a little melancholy lately thinking that my oldest baby is really not a baby anymore, but rather my tween son! he has changed so much in the last few months. he laughs at jokes the other kids don’t understand yet. he gets paid to follow the little ones around, while i work. he helps his dad with “grown up” chores. he makes himself lunch on fridays, if i can’t get to it right away. there is so much i want to say to him. so much i feel like we need to teach him. so much i feel like we are going to forget to teach him.
a letter to my tween son
i can’t believe you are only a couple of years away from being a teenager. there were times when you were a baby when people told me not to blink because before i knew it you would be a teenager. i laughed, and said, “i don’t know what i will do when that happens. i don’t get along with older kids.” the truth is, i have always done better with younger kids, and the thought of actually having to parent a teenager (or even a tween, in your case) was terrifying. i have had other wise mamas tell me that every mom has a sweet spot. you know, a time where they feel they thrive the most in their children’s lives, the age that they LOVE the most. that doesn’t mean they don’t love their kids all the time, or enjoy them most of the time…don’t lie, you know you have your moments! it only means that they do best at a certain age. i completely agree with that, and have been dreading these days of parenting older children. i’m just being honest.
except, guess what! i think you might be one of the coolest kids i have ever met, and i am totally loving parenting a tween! i have some advice for you though before you make your way into teenage years, so here goes…
stand up for yourself and what you believe is right. it may not always be easy, but it will always feel better in the end than sitting back and doing nothing. i have never left a situation that i ignored, despite feeling strongly in a different direction and NOT felt horribly, and wished i could go back and right my wrong.
no matter what you think is funny, i promise you potty humor will not go far with girls (at least not most girls!). please do not, fart, burp, or make other disgusting sounds around girls. likewise, do not talk about poop or other disgusting things. even if you happen to find a girl who enjoys those jokes, it’s not very gentleman-like. feel free to tell all of the disgusting fart jokes around your friends that are boys, or your brothers. while i’m at it, they’re not my favorite either. sorry…
don’t be a bully, and don’t put up with people bullying you or anyone else. people will follow your lead.
please don’t ever stop coming to me and telling me about your day, or just asking to watch a show with me. please. please. please. i absolutely adore this time, and i know there will most likely come a time when you think you are way cooler than me (maybe it already has), but i will DIE if you stop wanting to tell me everything that happened at school, or when you went to a friend’s house. i’m sure there will be things you want to keep to yourself, and that’s ok. just don’t stop coming to me altogether. i love to hear you talk- even when i seem exhausted because you talk all. day. long.
trust your gut. if it feels like you shouldn’t be doing it, chances are it isn’t a good idea. i am dreading the day when peer pressure becomes something more than your friends convincing you to stay up way later than you want to at night. there will come a time when you are pressured to do something that is dangerous, or just a poor moral choice. we all make mistakes, but i am asking you to stop and think before doing anything that just seems wrong before you do it. feel free to ask this question at times of uncertainty, “what would my ______ say?” fill in the blank with my mother, father, aunt, uncle, grandma, etc. if the answer isn’t, “i’m so proud” or a variation of that, it’s probably not a good idea.
happiness is a choice. make the choice to see things with a “glass have full” perspective. if you spend all of your time seeing the negatively all the time, you will live a long, unhappy life. a lot of things have happened to me in my life that would justify (in most people’s minds) my being just a generally unhappy person. i choose not to focus on these things, and instead focus on being happy, and the things God has blessed me with.
gratitude helps with happiness. if you spend the rest of your school years wishing for what others have, i promise you will be pretty miserable. you come from straight middle class parents. there are going to be lots of things you want, that we just can’t or won’t indulge you with. that doesn’t mean you will go without. you have been blessed with so much. as you get older, i hope you learn to be truly grateful for what you have. your manners are good, and i think you are a pretty thankful person. i am talking more about feeling grateful inside. a grateful heart is a happy heart.
if anyone ever asks you to take a picture with me, please don’t act like you think i am the biggest loser on the planet. i have seen it happen more times than i can count (mostly with boys) around your age, and older i say, “let’s get a picture with your mom” and the kid acts mortified. i get it. you’re so much smoother than i am. i hate having my picture taken too. i will cry inside though if you do that. i mean it. cry. i don’t think i am overly needy, but i am a girl, and my feelings will be hurt. so, please, just smile, and pretend to love me, you can even throw in a little hug if you’re feeling extra nice!
you have got to start caring what you look like! i love your laid-back attitude about everything, and i love your long, messy hair. but, you’re getting older, and in the blink of an eye (just like we got here!), you will be on your own, and i really need to know that we are doing our job right. brushing your teeth, brushing your hair, wearing clean, appropriate clothing- these are all things that need to happen at least once a day!
your siblings may get on your nerves, but someday, they will be your best friends. they are the only ones that know what it was like to grow up with a crazy mother like you have, so treat them right! stand up for them when i am not around, and stand up for the when they are not around.
the toilet seat does move into an upright position, and we do own a toilet bowl brush. please learn how to use both of them. i will gladly show you again if you need me to do so.
i hope you always keep that quiet confidence of yours. i am so jealous of your ability to be a complete goofball, and not worry that you are embarrassing yourself. you make your friends laugh, and you have fun no matter what you are doing. you dance, despite the fact you are not a dancer (i think we all know you have been cursed terrible rhythm). it doesn’t even matter, you have fun while you’re doing it. i never had the courage to be as silly as you, and you make it look like so much fun. i want to be you!
your dad and i are always here for you. no matter what. regardless of what you have going on, good or bad, you can always come to us for help, comfort, guidance, love, and support.
i love you. i always love you. always. always. always. if you remember no other part of this letter, remember that.
keep growing, p (just not too fast), and stay cool!