I am officially mother to a fourteen-year old. While the age thirteen sounds whimsy and sixteen, scary, I’m not sure what to say about fourteen. I barely remember myself at that age.
I turned fourteen in 1983. Like my son, I was in 8th grade. Unlike my son, I had a perm, bad feathered bangs and wore bright purple eye makeup. I’d never been kissed. Return of the Jedi came out that year, but I only know that because I googled 1983 cultural occurrences. Apparently my mom was paying a buck-thirty-five for a gallon of milk and a dime less for gas.
But back to Jack. I asked this sprouting teenager over breakfast what responsibility he’d like to be granted in honor of his 14th year.
“The right to do everything I want,” he said, foam of a homemade latte on his lip.
“Doing everything is overrated,” I replied. “Really, what do you wish you had the freedom to do?”
We talked about his taking the metro alone or going to the movies with friends. Maybe a solo metro ride to the movies with friends. Otherwise, I was at a loss for suggestions, and Jack didn’t have any ideas either. Moms of fourteen-year olds, I’m open to your thoughts. Essentially, I want to give him space to grow, but within the bounds of what’s safe. A doable challenge that will make him feel good about himself. And then I want to help him build on the added responsibility rather than force him to drink from the firehose of adulthood. I don’t have many more years left to shape this soon-to-be young adult. I want to get it right.
I’m not one to miss the years gone by, but tonight we will look at his baby book, sing happy birthday and celebrate the funny, thoughtful, witty, guy he’s growing to be.