When I was 13 I had a friend, my best friend. She was everything that I was not- tall, blonde, beautiful (I was always referred to as ‘cute’ growing up, and as any 13 year old girl can tell you, that is not the same as beautiful.) I grew up in a conservative home and much to my embarrassment, I was always considerably behind when it came to pop culture references, (I never knew the latest bands or the newest movies.) But she had embraced them all. I was shy, she was confident. I was timid, she was carefree. I was terrified of boys, but she captivated them- and to my 13 year old mind, she was exotic.
We were practically inseparable.
We’d skip out on riding the bus after school sometimes and walk the four miles to my house. Every weekend we were together. We’d make up ridiculous dares for each other, and laugh as we did them. We listened to music. We explored in the woods. We even joined a beauty pageant because we thought it would be fun. It wasn’t.
I remember her mother used to drive us to a lake where we would go camping on long weekends. Her mom drove a pick up truck with a cap over the bed and we would pile blankets and pillows into the back. Her mom would tell us to lie low so cops couldn’t see us and she would drive the 2-3 hours to the lake, all the while drinking a beer as she drove.
(At this point, I’m pretty sure my mother is having a heart attack, because like a typical teenage girl, I always left out a few details!)
We certainly did our fair share of stupid, silly, crazy teenage things (which thankfully never included drinking or drugs) and also, thankfully did not involve social media and the internet. But she was my best friend and I loved her.
We grew apart a few years later, but I often think of her with fondness and wish her well.
I look at my own kids and wonder how they will navigate the difficult years of adolescence. What things will they do and hide from me? What will their rebellion look like? As a parent, I think the best you can hope for is that all of the teachable moments, all the lessons learned, and the time spent together will somehow sink into their little minds, and are quickly recalled when the time is right. You hope that your own shortcomings don’t sabotage your hard work and that your children will remember the better version of yourself. You feed into them the values and truths you hold dear, repeating them and practicing them in your daily life. But mostly, I think you pray and hold on for the ride.
My children will grow up and they will have to abide with the decisions they make, but I desperately pray that those decisions are rooted in something far more sturdy than their peers and their culture. I pray they learn that their value is greater than their appearance or their success, and that their worth is not determined but their weight, their grades, or whether or not they have a significant other. Their worth lies squarely on the outstretched arms of the One who made them and gave all for them. Only when they accept that will they be free to love without condition, risk failure, and handle heartbreak and rejection in a way that does not damage themselves or others.