Friday, August 5, 2016

3 things I learned from a fourteen year old.

Have you ever hung out with someone a few decades younger?

Someone who is not a grandchild. I did this recently. The neighbors daughter was visiting her dad for a month. A lovely, curious teenager getting ready to turn fifteen.

I needed help with a glue gun and a stack of things for making steam punk jewelry. My thought that she might be able and also like to help was right. We ended up hanging out together for several days.

We built the jewelry. 

She turned out to be a whiz with the glue gun and had a great eye for adding one more detail that just made a piece "pop."

We  picked cherries off the neighbor's tree (with permission) and made cherry juice. She picked, squashed, stirred and strained to get her own jar of juice.

Shopping and hair things

Shopping at a thrift store for old jewelry to convert is way more fun with a teenager. But the crowning piece (and that is a pun) was my hair cutting visit. We stocked her with a full Mac Meal, and she ate as I took the chair.

A visit the day before had left her hair an amazing mix of blue, black, and sort of a pewter color with a funky short one-side cut. At my hair salon, she sat in a chair backing on the main store and people stopped to comment on her "do." It is an amazing, creative statement of  "look out world, here I come and I'm ME."  (Photo here does not do it justice.)

Meanwhile, I mentioned that I'd have loved hair like that as a teen. Both my young friend and my hairdresser jumped right on that comment and said, "so what's stopping you now?" I absorbed the possibility while the stylist fetched the samples of colors available. The teen picked purple and the stylist went to work.

End result: I now have purple streaks and I LOVE THEM. 

(they are plum purple in real life)

3 things I am taking away from this week

1) Teenagers have optimism and expansive creativity. 

And occasionally the let it all hang out and it is infectious. I enjoyed my designing and jewelry building way more because of her presence. A few "old" scales have fallen from my eyes, and I'll work to make sure they don't come back.

2) The young, when alone with an older person not a relative, just might ask surprising questions.

 And make comments they wouldn't with a parent. The opportunity to be invited to drop small bits of information into their lives is a gift. It reminded me of how much I've learned over the decades. A satisfying and rewarding feeling.

3) They tackle what is at hand without worry.

 Although sometimes confused about what life should be and where it will take them, they power ahead. They have a view unencumbered by decades of layers of trying, failing, hard times and pain. That reminder of all the wonderful, new things to learn, and the known things to enjoy in life, is great.

We usually recognize that babies and younger children offer a renewed view of the world. But teenagers sometimes get a bad rap for their attitudes and habits. I learned that they too have much to offer us.

My advice to you: 

If the opportunity to hang out with a young teenager arises, take it. I believe that there are more great teens than not. When they have nothing to prove to parents, teachers and friends, they often show their true selves. And those selves are terrific.

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