My first book’s subtitle is “And Other Observations from an Overly Dramatic Mom,” so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that my teenage girls are overly dramatic as well. The most recent instance happened with my middle child, as she was upset about someone who had answered a question for her. She had been to youth group and someone asked a question. She didn’t respond quickly enough so someone answered for her to the best of their ability. Because the answer was not fully correct, she felt it wasn’t that person’s place to answer for her.
It’s partly her fault, anyway. She has a bad habit of not answering direct questions. Don’t expect a response from her unless she is in the mood to talk. If she isn’t in the mood, she tends to stare at you like you just dropped down from another planet, like she thinks 1) you are stupid for not calling ahead to ask her a question or 2) for showing up to talk to her in the first place. Imagine how this goes over when she is in trouble and I am disciplining her. I have explained to her many times that she needs to be quicker with her answers. I also explained that she was being excessively dramatic about the situation, and it wasn’t really that big of a deal.
High school is punishment enough for a quiet kid. In my effort to get my quiet girls to open up and blossom into the lovely ladies I know they must be (deep down where only God and I can see), I have them go to Youth Group. They are put into small groups and are really expected to open up and share with others. In my mind, which is really just a playground for all sorts of mayhem, I think this is good.
When I am giving my sermons on the bed, I tend to tell stories about my own experiences and I also like to give a math lesson. Although math is not my strong suit, I am delighted when I am able to do quick math on the fly. I have explained to my children that high school is only 180 days per year. There are 365 days in a year total, and really in the greater scheme of things, high school isn’t that long of a time in your life. So they shouldn’t get so worked up about things. One day they will blink, and it will be over. At that point, they will look in the mirror and try to figure out how they got to be so old as to have teenagers themselves. (Something I do daily.)
I started a new job this year, so in trying to explain that it’s OK to talk to new or different people, I told her about my job. How I didn’t know what I was getting into necessarily, but I had heard different things, so I had a starting point. Truth be told, I knew names, but only the names of a few of the people in the building. It can be just as hard for an adult as it is for a young person to make new friends. The secret, I told her, was that you have to understand just one key point about all people. ALL people are just trying to find their way in the world. Some are better at it than others, but the fact is that we are all alike in our humanness, and in our humanness none of us is perfect. As soon as you get that part of reality, it makes it a lot easier to talk to people.
I also shared that I was given a bag of Hershey Hugs from the teacher I work with, and that I often walk down the hallway on my way to make copies and hand some out to people. Some of them I know better than others, but I think that everyone can use a hug now and then. Why not go up to people and hand them a chocolate hug, and wish them a good day? If I arrive at my building early, I go room to room and drop a hug on everyone’s desk. When I’m not early, I pass them out to those I pass in the hall.
I may or may not ever be a part of the group that is already there, as some of them have worked together for years. But even so, how much better is it to smile and say hello or hand someone a chocolate hug, than to go through the halls worrying about fitting in? I don’t concern myself with that stuff anymore.
I explained to my daughter that it doesn’t matter if I fit in. What matters is if I’m doing a good job and I’m bringing glory to God. The way I figure it, if she goes to school and she smiles and talks to whomever she comes in contact with, and she is right with God, everything else will fall into place.
She said that if the Mayans were correct and the end of the world comes this year, high school isn’t going to matter much. I told her that I don’t believe that the Mayans were privy to when Jesus was going to come back and take us to heaven, but even if they were, it’s a much better use of her time to live each day as God has intended, than to worry about what anyone else thinks of her.
And if the Mayans were correct (and not just tired of writing and counting as I suspect), then what a great day it will be when we do get to go to heaven and be at home with our Father at last.