I have a 12 year old girl. If you are reading this right now and have ever had kids and have been through the "tween" years, then I know you have stopped reading and you are on your knees praying for me at this moment...thank you. If you are not there yet, with your kids, then you need to stop and pray for yourself and the years to come. You will need it!!!
My husband is a youth minister. I was an 18 year old when I met him and he is going on 20 years of ministry. I am as prepared as I can be, for those crazy teenage years, HOWEVER, I don't think you can ever be prepared for the hormones that come with it! Ouch! There are days when I have this little girl full of hugs and laughter, then there are days when the same little girl is busting at the seams, mad at the world and then there are days like today...your heart breaks.
It all started about a cell phone. I had to drop my kids off at their grandma's, early Monday morning, because my husband was hunting and I had to go to work and I needed someone to take them to school. I wasn't even to work, before my cell phone rings. It is Kayla. She is a sobbing mess. All I can hear between tears is "it's not fair!" Which if you are a parent, well you know you hear that phrase a couple of zillion times a week. Finally, I was able to decipher the problem in between the sobs; it was simple... my niece got a cell phone. Upon entering the house that morning, Kayla was given the news that her cousin, who is the same age as her, had a new cell phone. Heaven help me!
Have you ever wanted something so bad, that it consumed you? It didn't matter that you really didn't need it, have the money for it, etc... YOU JUST WANTED IT! Well, my daughter, like every other tween kid in the nation, thinks she needs a cell phone. Truthfully, my husband and I haven't really discussed when she might have her wish fulfilled, but it was certainly not Monday morning! I still can't even understand why she even needs one at her age, well that is until today...
I came home today and was greeted once again with an explosion of emotions concerning her cousin getting a cell phone. After several brutal rounds, I won most, but she got her jabs in, I finally got to the real issue. She truly believes that a cell phone will help her make friends, help her fit in better. My heart broke as she cried. It almost made me want to run out and buy her a phone...I said "ALMOST."
The thing is, she has many friends that are in that popular group at school, yet she doesn't feel a part. they invite her to parties, they've come over to our house and they are all sweet to her, yet, she is still left feeling like an outsider. Instead of talking, kids now spend most of their time downloading ring tones, taking pictures with their phones or playing games. If you don't have a phone, well, you are out of the loop.
Just the other day, a girl from church, told Kayla a secret and said she felt Kayla was a good friend and listener. However, try telling a 12 year old that that is a more important quality to have, than the latest gadget. Try telling your daughter that it is more important to be respectful of others, to be kind and a good friend yourself, than to be able to say you have a cell phone. Try telling...you get the picture?
I'm not sure when my daughter will get her first phone. (What ever happen to just having a phone in your room??? ) It could be next week, next year or three years from now. Truth is it really doesn't matter. I know how this works...next it will be a car or dating or makeup or...
I was a kid once. I have known what it felt like to be on the outside looking in. As a parent, I wish I could make everyone like her or include her. As someone who has been there once upon a time, I want to say "What doesn't kill you, will make you stronger." The way I see things now, is if you have to have the latest material things for people to like you, then that is not saying much about who you are as an individual.
Kayla is very loving. She is kind. She would like to change the world if she could. She is a keeper of secrets. She is a good friend. She is still adjusting from losing a lot of good friends when we moved last year. She is still trying to find her place...but wait aren't we all? Do we ever really outgrow this stage? I find myself wanting to decorate a certain way, dress a certain way, own the latest gadget... Why? Who am I trying to impress?
It is a hard lesson to learn. It is hard at my age, much less 12. Jealousy is a hard emotion to deal with. I certainly haven't mastered it! How can I expect my young daughter to comprehend it? All we can do is live one day at a time. My prayer is that my daughter will be a reflection of Christ, not the phone she may one day carry. My prayer is that I set the example for her and not let the material things of this world decide who I am as an individual.
It may have started out about a cell phone, but it ended up being a reminder to this mom, that I needed to get on my hands and knees and start praying more. The teenage years are tough and it just gets harder on kids today, with every year that goes by.