Saturday, March 12, 2016

Navigating adolescence

I'm on the edge of glory and I'm hangin' on a moment of truth. Out on the edge of glory and I'm hangin' on a moment with you. I'm on the edge, the edge, the edge, the edge, the edge, the edge, the edge. I'm on the edge of glory, and I'm hangin' on a moment with you. I'm on the edge with you. – Edge of Glory, Lady Gaga

My boyfriend has a 15-year-old daughter.  She really is a good kid. I like her, she likes me and we get along. My relationship with him would NOT be successful if she and I didn’t like each other, so the fact that we get along is a blessing.  Sure, there are few things that concern me; I’ve shared them before.

1.     Her hygiene is disgraceful, truly.  I don’t get it.
2.     She has this weird block on her race. She refuses to identify as a person of color. She’s got a Black dad and a Latina mom.  At MOST she’s is biracial. 

At some point these things are going to be issues for her, the writing is on the wall on that one.   I’ve decided, for the most part, to keep my distance from it.  If it comes up and sounds crazy, I say something.

I see how her dad is struggling to accept the fact the she is growing up—he is in SUCH denial about it.  Actually, maybe denial is not right word.  It’s more like he knows its happening but it devastates him and he wants to stop it.   I keep telling him that, that train has left the station.  She IS growing up and he had better accept it and adapt or he’s going to miss out on an opportunity to get to know her as she turns into a young woman.

There is a part of me that wishes we were closer.  We like each other but I’m not her confidante.  Not being her confidante is fine, but sometimes I wish I were, because I want so badly to tell her things that I wish that someone had told me.   That might be one of the biggest regrets I have in NOT being a parent.  I’ll never get to tell a young woman all the things I’ve experienced and issues I’ve wondered about.  I would love to tell young women the following:

1.     It’s ok to be curious about stuff. That’s normal. There is nothing wrong with exploring you.
2.     Not everyone should be permitted access to you.  Boys, girls, it doesn’t matter. Be choosy as to whom you call friend.
3.     Someone that tries to get you to do something against your will is NOT your friend.
4.     Sex is great, but it’s not going anywhere. You can wait. It will be there later. I promise.
5.     If you do have sex, PLEASE be careful.  Understand that is YOUR responsibility.  Do not trust anyone to care for your physical and sexual health.  No, do not let him put it in for “just a second”.  Side note---men will try this at every age. Trust me.
6.     No one is allowed to make you feel bad about being yourself—even your parents. Tell people when they are hurting you. 
7.     Take chances! Now this is tricky. You want to tell kids to take chances, but you don’t want them to, accidently, kill themselves or anyone or setting fire to the house.  However, if there is something that seems interesting to you, do that. Regardless of what your friends think.
8.     Stand up for yourself.
9.     Stand up for people who can’t stand up for themselves.
10. Be kind—to yourself and other people.

Those are the things that come to mind right now.  I just remember being so conflicted about so many things when I was a kid.  I was super emo and there wasn’t anyone to help me navigate adolescence.   I genuinely thought I had no value and it breaks my heart to think of it.  If I am able, I would like to help her navigate her adolescence.  Just to make sure, as much as possible, that she make to the other side relatively unscathed.