I did not want to give my soon to be teenage daughter a list of advice, because I do that normally-daily, sometimes twice a day, often times more. Instead, I thought to myself, what do I wish someone had said to me back in the day when I was turning this corner from tween to teen? Here’s what I came up with. Starting this conversation can be a challenge, but it’s probably the most important first step.
1. You will like boys. A lot. And that’s perfectly normal.
2. You will get zits. Don’t pick them. They will only look worse. A little dab of toothpaste at night will help.
3. You will most likely get cramps or headaches and your back may hurt once a month. You’ll have to keep going as if nothing’s going on. But you can always tell your mom; and get a few extra snuggles that day.
4. You will love your siblings one day and plot to murder them in their sleep the next. Some day that same sibling might become your best friend. So don’t kill them.
5. You might have a crush on a teacher. Especially the one who tells you you’re the most amazing student ever and looks like a Hollywood Hottie. Crushes are normal. Don’t let him distract you from the goal. You still need to aim for straight As.
6. Don’t freak out when you don’t get all As. You are not your report card. Just do your best. The grades are merely icing.
7. Your days will be similar to the weather. You will have good days and bad. Days when you feel as happy as sunshine. Other mornings when the storms in your heart keep you from wanting to get up. This is partially due to hormones, and also just a part of growing up. Know that you can laugh with your mother and cry in her arms. I’ll give you space. But when you’re ready, come out and talk to me. I’m waiting for you.
8. You are beautiful. Even on days you don’t feel so pretty-your eyes, your smile, your skin color, and even your hair that doesn’t want to sit right in that one spot. Because what makes you beautiful is the wonder inside you. Stay wonder-full!
9. Your body will change. Slowly at times, then all of a sudden. There will be days you’ll want to hide, and days you will want the world to feel your presence. This is perfectly normal. Your body is precious-miracle, every single cell. Talk to me when you’re not sure how to handle all the conflicting emotions. We can go shopping, or out for ice cream, or get into our warm fuzzies and talk.
10. Your lips are perfect-made for talking, singing, and kissing. Contrary to popular belief, a kiss is not just a kiss. Save your first kiss, because once it’s gone, you can never get it back. It’s okay to say no, if someone asks for it. You are in charge of your lips. They’re yours after all.
11. You will hear about sex. A lot. At lunch in the cafeteria, on-line and all over social media. You will be curious. You’ll have questions. The sources might even have some truth to them. But not everything you hear is true. And for all the hype, there’s so much more to it then what Hollywood makes it out to be. You can talk to me. I promise not to judge you, freak out, or tell you I have all the answers. Because I don’t.
12. You’ll imitate others as you try to find your own style. That’s okay. Just don’t get so caught up in mirroring someone or something you like that you don’t give yourself a chance to discover yourself. Ask yourself questions. What makes you feel comfortable with yourself? What do you believe? What is important to you? What message do you want to share with the world through your life and the way you live it?
13. You will change your mind, about what you want to be when you grow up; what you’ll wear in the morning; who your best friend is; and lots more. Change is normal, good, healthy. Just remember the truths that never change. Mom and Dad love you. God loves you, and we’re not giving up on you, ever.
And you? What do you wish someone had told you along the way? At thirteen? Sixteen? Twenty-one? Yesterday?
Rajdeep Paulus, author of Swimming Through Clouds, is mom to four princesses, wife of Sunshine, a coffee addict and a Chicago Bulls’ fan. As of June 2013, she wears her bright orange Tough Mudder headband around the house, just for fun. She earned it, after all. For more on Rajdeep and her Masala-marinated madness, stop by rajdeeppaulus.com.
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