My Mission Statement

I write to serve, to unite, to educate. I write to share literature and flesh out ideas that may be of interest to others. I write to document an emotion, experience, or a blip in time. My mission is to write in such a way that the reader is reminded that we can find humor in all situations. It's one of the great blessings of life.

Monday, June 16, 2008

What Does it Mean to Be 13?

I've always felt you can learn a LOT from other people, so I saw a great opportunity to share my learning with YOU. My niece is 13 today, so I did a little interview with her and her parents on becoming a teen-ager. As I asked her questions, my daughter was singing this song in the background: I can't drive, and I can't vote. I can't even pierce my nose. So what does it mean to be 13? I can go to the movies and see PG-13. (she has no idea where she learned the song; neither she nor I take credit for it)
Me: How does it feel to be 13? (okay, I admit, stupid question)
AH: Good
Me: What's special about being 13?
AH: You're not a kid. You can go to PG-13 movies.

Hmmm. My daughter turns 12 this week, so I'm preparing for the inevitable turn to teen-ager hood next year. My next important task was to interview her mom and dad. I will refer to them as "Mom" and "Dad".

Me: What are you most looking forward to about her 13th year?
Mom: I look forward to her being more responsible and helpful with her sister.
AH: (interjects) Boys!
Mom: Why would I look forward to you liking boys?
AH: I've already had a boyfriend.
Mom: They didn't have dates or anything. They saw each other in science and texted each other.
Me: What's your biggest relief about her 13th birthday?
Mom: No broken bones. Passing school. Being good.
Me: Any concerns?
Mom: Boys and being exposed to a harmful crowd, negative influences. Getting closer to driving age.
Me: What is your advice to parents who have younger children? What have you learned that you could share with us?
Mom: Be firm and consistent. Have a balance between the parents.

Now the dad. I'm asking the same questions. We'll see if there's any difference. (We kept him in a soundproof chamber while his wife answered the first ones.)

Me: What are you most looking forward to about AH's 13th year?
Dad: I look forward to seeing the transition. I want to see her cross that 'magic hurdle' of becoming a teen-ager, the whole coming-of-age thing. I look forward to seeing how she acts and carries herself.
Me: What's your biggest relief now that she's 13?
Dad: I'm thankful for her learning abilities. She has only one more year until high school, and so far she's done quite well in advanced courses and seems to be preparing for success in academics after high school.
Me: Biggest concern?
Dad: One more year of middle school, being exposed to things. Schools are growing. I worry about her falling into peer pressure when she goes to high school in another year. She will see and experience lots of new things.
Me: What advice do you have to offer those of us with younger kids?
Dad: Speak softly and carry a big stick. (ha ha ha) Be prepared for them to test the waters. They become more and more trying, so you have to adjust the way you communicate with them. As they grow older, you have to treat them as a pre-adult, different than as a child. The main thing is you have to talk more, discuss things more openly than when they were younger.
AH: (interjects) Be nicer to them.
Dad: You need to be in touch with what's going on around you, so you know what she's being exposed to. Help them learn about and understand different cultures. The number one thing is to KNOW THEIR FRIENDS.

Thank you to Mom and Dad and AH who shared their wisdom about what it means to be thirteen. I learned a lot. Hope you enjoyed the interview.

1 comment:

Jody said...

As the mom of a 13yo, maybe I can give you some advice as well.

1. Don't go clothes shopping with your teengaer. If you're planning to spend a certain amount of money, give her the money, KEEP VETO POWER, and meet up with her after a certain amount of time.

2. Don't expect her to value the same things that you do. For instance, you might value family time, a roof over your head, and living in a free society. She, on the other hand, might value her mp3 player.

3. Don't assume that just because she knows everything that she also knows where the spatula goes when she unloads the dishwasher. This is a specialize skill that you obtain when you move into your own house.

4. Realize that IM relationships are deeper and more meaningful than relationship with people that she sees in person, especially with people who might have birthed her and fed her from their breast for her first year or so of life.

Isabel by Donna Jones Koppelman

Isabel by Donna Jones Koppelman

Major Bear at the Grove Park Inn by Donna Jones Koppelman

Major Bear at the Grove Park Inn by Donna Jones Koppelman