Growing up has sure changed since I did it all those years ago... Or at least that's what a teenager will try to tell me. However, the reality is that growing up hasn't really changed that much at all. Parents are parents and teenagers are teenagers and everyone is still doing just about the same things today--as it was in 1977 when I was Makala's age.
It seems to me the issues are just about the same now, as I felt when I was nearly 15. She wants independence, freedom, true love and to start her own life. I want to see reasons to respect her and trust her as she does so. If there is one thing I want my kids to learn it is that feeling I had as a teenager. I was brought up to feel that the most important thing I could do was earn my parents trust and respect. With that I could count on my parents to support me with the dreams I had in life.
If I am learning anything about parenting teenager's it is that sometimes a mother just needs to Shut-Up and let the chips fall where they may. My older kids did not cause me too much stress as teenagers, there were normal rebellion actions, typical growing up mistakes and very few extreme situation that needed me to intervene. I look back and see where I could have handled some situations differently but, overall I am happy with the mother I was for both of them.
Bless her heart, Makala is more like me then either one of the older two were. She is the romantic, outgoing, energetic, bright sunshine of life that I always felt inside too. I am very aware that It is not helpful to see myself in my daughter--but, with Makala it's very hard to ignore. I actually can understand how she gets herself into the social messes she does. It is easy to be a target when you live your life in the spotlight. What I see in her is that outgoing--in your face--personality, I have had to control all of my life.
Some morning when she walks out the door for school, I just remember those 3 inch, multi-colored, platform shoes I had to have so I could ride my bike... and be seen. Her current trademark is Zebra Print. Which would be fine except in True Makala form she seems to push it past the limit and to the extreme. I hope to God she gets through her teens and KEEPS this part of her spirit... I expect her peers will beat her into some kind of submission to an acceptable limit. Makala will always push the boundaries. I think the next few years will be about teaching her to recognize the limits.
I know that growing up is not easy and while the Issue are the same--the World is not. There are some awful risks in life out there today. There is more reason today to teach teens how to navigate the systems and find their way to live life. The next few years should be very interesting and hopefully successful for all four of my children.
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