Tweenagers

Well, our family had our first all out tweenager drama today.

Yes. Those looks.

No details, because that’s the thing about tweenagers: you can’t really share their stories.

I mean, I promise we think the older children are as cute as Kyrie, but we don’t share if they don’t want to share, so sometimes they give the illusion of slipping under the radar, and other times they are just busy doing their own thing which doesn’t have to be documented in social media if they don’t want or we aren’t there, and that’s okay, too.

But here is the part they did want to share, “in case it helps some other children who don’t know how to be teenagers yet”.

Also, my nine year olds are not teenagers, I just want to point that out one more time.

Anway, here’s the video they wanted to make today:

For those who cannot hear (the video was edited on a phone where it isn’t as easy to add captions), Mary says that she was teasing Alex for being in love, and Alex says he handled it by throwing a temper tantrum.  Mary says she learned to not be a bully with her words, and to not talk about private things in public.  Alex says he learned about problem-solving by using his words, and setting boundaries, and we give some example responses he could use next time, like “that’s private, so let’s not talk about it right now”.

How adorable is that?  It was really hard for me to keep a straight face, because they are such sweet babies.  Except that this was really big for them, and brand new in their world, and they are feeling so very grown up.  So I tried hard to respect that, and take it all very seriously, but in my heart I know they are adorable.

That’s how what seemed to be a Sunday School disaster of epic proportions in which everyone assumed I would be monstrously angry, turned out to be an excellent learning opportunity for all of us – and an early intervention for these tweenagers who maybe won’t always confide in me so easily as they grow up and differentiate themselves in the normal process of becoming their own individual selves.

What matters, more than anything, is that we are family.

And that means we are learning to be kind to each other, and gentle with each other, and loving toward one another.  It means we forgive each other, and let things go.  It means we serve one another, encourage one another, and cheer each other up when we can.

That’s easier said than done some days, even for parents, which makes it extra important for us to model all of those things, from letting go to increasing in love.

That’s how today, which these two assumed would leave them grounded for “weeks and weeks” (we have never grounded them for weeks and weeks) turned into them helping me cook Thanksgiving dinner, which we missed on Thursday because I was working (the children had Thanksgiving with Nathan’s parents while I worked).

They were so proud of themselves!  This is what is important: our relationships, our time together, and what we will remember about it all as it passes far too quickly.  It’s true there are times the children need limits, or times when natural consequences play out in ways from which we cannot rescue them.  But other times they need nurturing more than reprimands, and the very most sensitive beginning to the very hard years of adolescence feels like one of those times.

Limits we reviewed today?   No dating until you are sixteen.

Natural consequences that played out today?  If you gossip in Sunday school, everyone knows you tell secrets.  If you run out of class to hide in the bathroom, everyone knows your feelings were bigger than your words.

And the nurturing?

We talked about liking other people, in a dating kind of way, for the first time.  I mean, not in a curious about what will happen some day kind of way, and not just in a what are the rules for our family kind of way.  But in a I-am-genuinely-interested-in-someone-for-the-first-time-ever kind of way.

And we talked about growing up, and changing feelings, and bigger feelings.   We talked about ways to express that in good and healthy ways, besides just warning of the less helpful ways.  We talked about how you know when there is someone worth liking, about when to like someone, and about liking lots of different people to learn what kinds of things in other people that you like and what things you are not comfortable with as much.

We talked about being a friend to your brother and to your sister, even when they like someone.

We talked about that friendship being more important than dates, and that you will know a good date when it fits well in that friendship, too.

Because we are family, I said.  And we went through a lot to become a family.   So not taking care of each other is like cooking a whole fancy meal but not eating it.

And that brought us back to childhood, because just talking about a fancy meal made us need to eat one.

And so we had thanksgiving, to celebrate our family, even a family that is growing up.

About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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