Dear soon to be 13 year old son
I am writing to you as you are a month away from becoming a teenager.
That's exciting for you and for me and scary for me, and probably for you.
I mean how tiring is it to hear people state the obvious all the time ? You are not a child anymore, You are getting bigger, You need to be more responsible, You need, You are.... on and on. As if this is news to you. So why do we do it ? Because actually you are still a child in most ways and one that is still learning. Because as smart as you are you do not know it all and only adults later on realize how much they still need to learn all the time. Part of it is our own fears - that we did not prepare you enough, that we did too much for you and you may not be able to be independent, that you are so different than we were at the same age. We need to chill a little and you need to cut us a break as we will not stop this, I promise it is because we think so highly of you not because we think you cannot do something.
We all remember becoming 13 and for some of us we forget how everything in our lives that seems trivial now was all consuming and absolutely important at the time. So remind us when we might say "is that really a big deal?" tell us that it is, we need help learning how to be parents of a 13 year old too.
As you turn 13 you are that much closer to what you probably see as awesome, and should, the finish line to getting "older". To getting less dependent on us, to making more and more of your own decisions. Man was I totally with that line of thinking when I was younger, I so wanted to be older, to not have to ask for permission, to be free and then I got older and I realize you still need to be mindful of others, you want to take others into consideration and you know all of us "old" folks lament how much we miss our youth. This is hard because your days seem to stretch on forever, school year flew by from my point of view, it was never ending from yours. You will get there, don't always rush it, there are great things to come but there are moments that you should enjoy now, in the moment because they will be those memories that you will look back when you get to my age.
I was never the 13 the way you will be, I was 13 in my own era, with my parents and with different things to tempt me to do wrong as well with things that were so wondrous to me and may seem lame to you. You do not have to be me at 13, there is nothing wrong with the fact that you and your friends communicate via devices, or watch YouTube for hours, don't need to wait for a tv show to come on because you can stream it, never sing lyrics wrong because you can look them up and never have to drag out a heavy book called an encyclopedia which may have outdated information in it to learn. You are all learning to be ready for the world you will inhabit, that is frankly awe inspiring for me. Yet certain things remain, kindness to others, not doing something to someone just so you can appear more dominant, caring about the world around you and knowing that I am here for you when the world doesn't do those things for you. I may yell, I may not like it but I got your back.
There will be changes to your body - oh she is not going there - mom stop, no really please stop. I know all about them, they will make you feel awkward, they may be annoying as they may come with skin issues, you will smell more, you might start growing hair and that baby smooth skin that I adore will be left behind. Whatever it is I, or your Papa, can talk about it, you might blush more than we do, we might wish you didn't ask and we may not have an answer but choose one or both of us and we will try, we will be honest and let's face it I am pretty funny so it will be kind of humorous. Unless it is not funny and then I will break out the Astoria girl in me and kick ass if you need, or just provide a shoulder to lean on.
Last but not least 13 is a one of many numbers that will have significance for you in life. You want to make choices as you become a teenager that do not negatively derail you from celebrating future milestone numbers. You may be tempted to try drugs, alcohol - let's talk about those choices honestly and how to make sure you do not do anything that will harm you, I promise not to tell you unrealistic things. You may start to think about sex, the beginning of whatever that means at 13 these days. You are only 13 - you need to slow it down a little -- know how to be respectful of your partners, be good to your own body and most of all slow it down a little. Yes I repeated myself I am allowed I am your mom, we repeat incredibly well.
On the subject of repeating - I will tell you these things again and again and again because if you learn nothing from this except that I am here for you and that I am learning how to parent a teenager to continue to grow the smart, funny, good looking, kind, talented boy to a man. That I love you even when I get mad, that you love me even when I seem so totally not to understand what you are saying, that you will do great things and no one should tell you otherwise.
I love you my soon to be teenager for all the things you were, are and will be. Now go be an annoying, brooding, eye rolling teen but also stay true to who you are inquisitive, clever and confident that you have unconditional love from me,