I doth proTEST! This is the same sweet boy who gave her a build-a-bear for Valentine's Day. Hmmm... and the very same boy who was quick to inquire, when he arrived to take her out for the afternoon, "Can I see the cubby?" Hah. Jealous...
This has reminded me of why I wrote Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots? eleven years ago, when Annie was four. It was my nonconformist tribute to beauty, peer pressure, scholastic achievement and athletic performance. And although the story now is read to little girls across America and beyond, the original impulse will always belong to Annie-- take the trail less traveled; snort when you laugh-- if you must; wear mismatched socks by all means; and build cozy cubbies when you damn well please.
No... Annie 's not off trying to save the planet, yet, (all in good time...) or inventing a panacea for our economic ills or reveling in political activism... but she amazes me everyday with her level of heart.
It is all too easy to measure teens by how "adult" they behave, and how pleasingly mature their extracurricular activities. Looky here, my teen has started her own business! Honors, AP, IB, 4.5 gpa... It's tempting to buy into it, and admire it all-- I do, but I don't. (Thank you, Waldorf Education. ) I can't help but wonder if our children's hearts and souls are ready for that level of achievement? Too much too soon. (Eventually they might need to escape to their very own little cubby too.)
Truth is, I am an advocate for letting teens be teens, letting them experience a portion of life that goes by fleetingly fast, and harbors lessons galore- albeit painful and pleasant. I say... let it rip. As long as parents are willing to set boundaries, and put in the time it takes to parent a full-fledged teen. Get ready, it may not be the prettiest time of their lives. They might be selfish, narcissistic, and roll their eyes a lot. But they may also warm your day beyond calculation with a smile or a hilarious story.
Disclosure: I am the parent of another teen-- the high achiever type, HA, is my acronym of choice. Regardless, he remains a teen. He's not yet setting the world on fire with plans to reconstruct the Amazon Rainforest. (But if anyone could... ) Instead he is learning and observing how the world ticks. In all his intelligent glory, he intentionally leaves a trail of (carbonless) footprints behind him in the dirt. Just so we can catch up with him, eventually. "Wait up, Nick!"
Annie is readying herself for whatever her worldly contributions will be simply by being who she is... a teenager. I take comfort in knowing she will make that quintessential discovery and it will be rich and rare. Okay, so she's taking a few moments to acquiesce, reconstruct something from her childhood, akin to the fort. I feel blessed to have teens who are teens, by their own standards, even if there are a couple pairs of peat brown eyes rolling all over the house.
There. I'm done. I need a nap-- And I know of just the right place...
Comfy cozy cubby (five times fast!)