I love teenagers. Yes, you read that right. I heart teenagers. And not just in a “aww, aren’t they cute?” sort of way. No, I seriously love teenagers. I am never happier than when my house is full of rambunctious teens. I know you think I’ve lost my everlasting mind, but I promise you, I haven’t.
Now, so far none of the teens I’m talking about are my own kids. They are kids from church–and their friends from school–who I know. Maybe that makes a difference–I don’t know. But I love teens. They have so much going on, and when you stop and listen to them–really listen to them and what is in their hearts–they have so much to give to you and to each other.
I first stepped into the teen room at church in 2003, as nervous as if I was a freshman walking into the high school cafeteria for the first time. Would they like me? Am I cool enough? Do I know the right boy bands? Are my clothes right? Funny how a room of teens can make a grown adult feel those things all over again!
What I quickly learned was that despite appearances, teens don’t really care about all of that. They don’t care that I’m an old square MOM. They only care that I listen to them, that I care about them, and that I give them a safe space to be themselves. Over the years I’ve learned that they really want what we all want–someone to talk to, someone who will listen and love us for who we really are, mistakes and all. God called me to leave the youth room in 2006, which was a really tough decision. But I did it, and funny enough, I’ve had more teens in my life than I did when I was in that room. It’s amazing how much they worm themselves into your heart. Many of these kids are like my own kids to me–they are a part of our family. They may not sleep here, but I love them like crazy nonetheless.
Several of those early teens have grown up, moved on, gotten married and had kids of their own. Some are buying houses, getting jobs, going to college…it is so much FUN to watch them grow up. Watching them move through the awkwardness that is teenagerhood, into the adventures and confidence of becoming an adult. Danielle posts pictures of her baby and is a strong advocate for breast feeding. Kelly graduated from college and is pursuing a teaching career. Brent is married and now teaching my own son in the middle school program. Bob just bought his first house and still comes round to hang out. (Love that young man, very, very much.) Mel broke the cycle at home and is the first in her family to go to university. Mel…well, Mel is my girl. I’d have adopted her if I could have. Silly, sassy Brit.
Many of these teens know our door is always open, and they will just show up at our door, unannounced. I love it. Seriously, I love it. I fret at first because my house isn’t clean and I’m not sure what foods I’ve got in my house for them (in case you’ve never been around teens–they can eat like nobody’s business!)…but quickly I realize that they don’t care about any of that stuff. They just want our attention. They want to hang with us. I get to have their laughter and brilliant smiles in my house. I get to hug them and talk about boys with them. (and girls–so much fun to help the boys figure out girls!) A couple of weeks ago six brilliant, beloved teens showed up at my door–and I sat there for the few hours they were here with a huge grin on my face, wishing this would last longer.
In other words, I discovered my family is a lot bigger than just the two monkeys I gave birth to. Here’s some photos of some of my favorite teens.Every single photo makes my heart smile.