Dear Teen Me
You’ve had it pretty easy so far. Your grades come easy, you have a great group of friends, you don’t have any trouble getting a date, and you usually get what you want. You’re sheltered. But wait—I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, because you’ve been lucky to be raised by wonderful parents who did a really great job, and as sheltered as you may be, you’re also strong willed, open-minded, self-aware, and in control.
Fast forward a bunch of years, and I want you to know that your child is going to be a beautiful, smart little boy…but he’s not going to attack life the same way you did. He’s going to need your help to deal with things you never really had to deal with. Your kid will be more reserved, and he’ll find it hard to make good friends, and while he’ll love to play sports, he won’t be the kid who gets picked for the team. He’ll get really good grades, but this will make him feel left out too. And when you move to a different city and he has to start a new school at age 11, he’s going to be very nervous. He won’t want to tell you because he knows you want him to be confident and strong and go in there and conquer the world. That’s how you would do it, after all, but I need you to see his fear and uncertainty and try not to push him too hard.
When he comes home without any stories to tell you about his day at school you’ll know it’s because he spends it alone. He’s going to come home one day hiding his tear-streaked face because other kids pretended to push him into the street in front of an oncoming car, yanking him back by his clothes at the last minute, and you’re going to go ballistic—before you find out that it isn’t even the first time. And he’s going to come home one day with a bloody nose because he got pushed around for not making the soccer team…and the baseball team…. This is when you’ll go cry in a closet, because he’s trying his damndest to shrug it off.
He’s going to start turning to books and video games for companionship, and you’ll watch him sitting there by himself and your instinct is going to be to tell him what he can do to make people like him better. I know you just desperately want to see him happy and have friends, because you feel more guilty every day for moving away from the school he knew, but just remember that he’s perfect the way he is, and it’s nobody’s fault if the kids in your new neighbourhood can’t see it. Yet. You can help him by showing him how much love he has from the people who are really important.
There’ll come a time when he’ll connect with people who appreciate him for being unique, intelligent, sensitive, and thoughtful. But until then, Dear Teen Me, those books your son loves to read are the way you’re going to relate to this private, special little boy. When you talk about them together he’ll share his fears and joys with you in a way he doesn’t with anyone else. Then the day will come when the doorbell rings…and it’ll be a group of kids asking if he wants to come out and play.
You’re going to go cry in a closet then, too. And that’s okay.
I pledge to take a stand against bullying each and every day #OneVoice
~ Chloe Jacobs, author of Greta and the Goblin King