Boys Will Be Boys – or – Know an Idiot
There once was a time when I placed all teens in the same category: Batshit Crazy! But then I began working in a field that gave me more exposure to them and in a short period of time my perception was forever changed. I quickly realized that not only was I wrong about teens but I probably grouped them together the way most people do police: all police are emotionless, robotic, abusers of authority. It’s not like that at all.
Although it’s been about thirty years (as I write this) since I was a teenager, it’s really not that difficult to recall what it was like to be that young myself. Looking back on it, knowing what I know now, I can see it as a very unstable time for me. I was a very awkward teenager but well liked by my peers. I struggled through my social ineptitude and did my best to fit in to any given situation until I became old enough to realize that I didn’t really give a shit what people thought of me and comfortably settled into the person I am today… ME!! If there’s one thing I want you both to take away from this letter it’s never try to be something you’re not. BE YOURSELF!! If people can’t accept you for who you are then they’re not the kind of people with whom you should associate.
In the past few months you’ve both celebrated your 9th and 7th birthdays. You’re both growing into such amazing people and I’m having a blast hanging out wth you and just listening to the crazy stuff that comes out of your mouths. Miranda, you’re so cerebra. Your mind is often going a mile a minute, creating the most amazing artwork and stories to go along with it. You write at a level I can barely match right now at my age. Jules, you’re fearless. You’re so eager to try virtually EVERYTHING on your own I wonder at times why you even need me around. You’re 7 going on 37. And your whacky sense of humour rivals my own.
I used to joke with friends about how I’m always trying to concoct a device that will keep you both this age forever. Sadly I’ve failed in this endeavour. You’re both at an awesome age where you love climbing on me, riding on my shoulders, holding my hand in public, cuddling, getting tucked in and having a story read to you,. I’ve tried to slip in conversations where I tell you about a time in the future when you’ll hate your mom and I. Without a thought, you’ll choose the company of your friends, or worse – your boyfriends, over us. You tell us now that will never happen but as you read this you probably have a better understanding of what I’m talking about than when I told you when you were little. Don’t get too bummed out over it cuz it’s perfectly normal. Drifting away from your parents is as normal for teens as breathing. It’s a time for you to discover yourselves, to make mistakes and to develop those inner survival skills you’re going to rely heavily on in the future.
My biggest fear for your both as teens isn’t that you’ll hate us or not want to be around us. No, my biggest fear right now is the boys in your lives and the things they may introduce you too. You’re both bright enough to know an idiot when you see one but sometimes even an idiot doesn’t come across as one in the beginning. Teenage boys are no different from teenage girls in the sense that they too are going through a time in their lives when they’re figuring things out. But boys will be boys, as the saying goes (or did in my time). Be careful to not open yourselves too quickly. A boy will say the sweetest things to gain your trust. Be guarded and don’t be complacent. Don’t be too quick to let the walls down. While most boys are honest, there are the 1% who have a hidden agenda. It’s up to you to discover it. At some point you will both have your hearts broken. That’s normal too. It’s a rite of passage. As much as I want to tell you the love you’ll find in high school will be the love you’ll have for the rest of your lives… it most likely won’t be.
As I write this, in 2018, we have this thing among teens called “sexting”. It’s where teens send naked or sexually suggestive photos of themselves to each other, usually to someone with whom they’re in a amorous relationship. Please, please, PLEASE don’t ever engage in this practice. There are two major problems with it: 1) It’s illegal for anyone to have or distribute nude photos of anyone under the age of 18 (it’s considered Child Pornography) and 2) you lose ownership of ANY photos you send out into the cyberspace. You have little to no control over pics you send out via text messaging, social media posts or whatever method you use to send them to someone. Once it’s out there it’s out there for good. Now, what happens if/when you break up with this person? Break ups at any age are often fraught with anger and resentment. You might find yourself wanting to one-up that person, get back at them by what ever means necessary… get revenge!!! Then you remember they have all these intimate images of you that they promised they would never EVER share with anyone. Whether they’re in a relationship or fresh out of the gates of a bad break up, boys LOVE to brag about their sexual escapades. I guarantee, despite what they tell you, there’s a 99.9% chance that they WILL at some point share your photos with friends. What will you do then? How will that make you feel? You have the power to stop that from happening by simply NOT taking part in it to begin with.
In my job, I’ve seen some of the worse case scenarios involving sexting, including suicide. Some teens are so distraught over the fact that the images they once shared with someone they once trusted have now leaked out to everyone they know, they end up abusing drugs and alcohol to help them deal with the psychological pain. In some cases, not all, it becomes too much and they think the only way out is to take their own lives. This is complete and utter bullshit. Suicide is NEVER a way out. There are plenty of other options but the best one is to not send out these kind of photos in the first place. Boys will tell you that it will enhance or improve the relationship. It won’t. It will only give someone ammunition to use against you in the future. It will rob you of your dignity and quite possibly your self-respect. And if you ever come across someone else’s images, I hope you’ll do the right thing and stop it dead in its tracks. The person in those photos is a victim who needs your help. You need to report it ASAP!! Trust me. You may just be saving a life.
I know this has been pretty heavy to read. It’s been heavy for me to write. I think I’ll go outside where you two are currently set up in the driveway running a lemonade stand.