I feel like there should be overture music here.  Something with a driving rhythm – thumping drums, blaring horn section, maybe an underlying bass line.  Perhaps the Death Star music would suffice. 

For today is the day that T-man finally, conclusively, at long last officially becomes a teenager.

“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee…pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.”

Okay, maybe equating parenting a teen with “the hour of our death” is a little harsh.  Mark it up to poetic license on the eve of T-man’s thirteenth birthday.

Notes for Our Brand New Thirteen Year Old

1.  You are a man-child.  Standing with a foot in two worlds, convinced you know best yet still craving the comforts of home.  You fluctuate between pulling us in and pushing us away.  It’s confusing, yes, but also know that it’s normal.

2.  We’ll be here for the times you need a soft place to land.  We’ll also be here when you need space to stretch your wings.

3.  There will be times we have to yank a knot in your tail.  You’ll hate it, resenting our belief that we know best.  Rest assured, every thirteen year old is offended by their parents’ interference.  It doesn’t change the situation, but at least you’ll know you’re not alone.

4.  At some point you’ll do something you consider unforgivable.  As a teen this is a foregone conclusion.  You’ll get a speeding ticket.  Get drunk at a party.  Wreck the car.  Smoke.  You’ll think we’ll be furious, that your only chance is to bury it fast and deep, but remember this: we were teenagers once, and we know every trick in the book.  Trust us when we say we’re ready to help, no matter what.  Hiding the body brings nothing but trouble.

5.  You thought you had a handle on this puberty thing, but you’re wandering into deep water.  Every milestone brings new challenges, surprises, and often dumfounding situations.  It can’t be said enough: we’re here, and nothing is out of bounds when you find yourself deep in the weeds.

6.  Please note the following items that do, in actuality, belong to us: Your phone.  Your iPad.  Your skateboard, skate ramp, scooter, and accessories for all of the above.  Your clothes, your books, your chargers, your room, and the seemingly bottomless supply of food in our kitchen.  In short, everything.  E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.  You might want to keep that in mind when those teen hormones rear their ugly head and push back against the oligarchy.

7.  Some of these basic life lessons bear repeating at this critical juncture in your life:  Money doesn’t grow on trees.  Saying please and thank you matters.  Small acts of kindness make a bigger difference than you’ll ever know.  Being the loudest in a room does not make you the strongest.

8.  You were made to shine brightly so get busy being you.  Be smart.  Be funny.  Be goofy and athletic and a truth speaker.  Whoever you are, be honest with yourself and the world around you.  We need more of that.

9.  You have to love yourself.  There’s simply no way around it.  First you learn to love yourself, and then you’ll be able to love others.  You’ll also understand what it means to be loved.  Without this discernment it will be very hard to tell people who truly love you apart from those who are in it for something else.

10.  We’re so proud of the young man you’re becoming.  Life is not easy.  Nothing worthwhile ever is.  Just put your head down, keep doing the work, and you’ll end up exactly where you’re supposed to be.