Today, you turn 17. It's a magical age. You are so close to being an adult, but yet you still get to claim childhood. For one more year, that is.
Of course, you have been such a grown up already. By sheer comparison, being the child who could do her own laundry and not poop in her pants made you seem incredibly mature. Aside from those accomplishments, there is also the fact that you really are incredibly mature.
You have the uncanny ability of someone far older than yourself to be able to tell us what you want or need and why. You can discuss how you feel about something, explaining your emotions in conversation many people three times your age wouldn't be able to replicate. It's not your favorite thing in the world to do, but you can do it, which is amazing.
This is the year you have to decide what comes next. You have to balance your last year of high school with figuring out your plans for your adult life. No pressure, right? It's a daunting task, I know. Don't worry though. It's not like you can't change your mind down the road, but you have to admit, there are some big decisions to be made this coming year.
I'm not worried about you. You are the most grounded teenager I've ever met. Lord knows how that happened. You have certainly endured your share of the crazy. And the diapers. And being woken up way before you should be on the weekends. And having to sit next to tiny people with sticky fingers at the dinner table. And parents who quote song lyrics as though they are part of the actual conversation. And potty talk. So much potty talk.
However, there is something important about 17 that I want you to remember. You will be expected to make grown up decisions and start acting more and more like an adult. We will expect more from you. Your teachers will expect more from you. This is normal and important. You have to grow up, and there is no time like 17 to do it. But here is the important part:
You are still a child.
No matter how grounded and how mature you are, you still get to be a child. Yes, that means you are still allowed some tantrums and silliness if you need it. What it really means is that you can still come to us with anything that you need.
A lot of people will start treating you like an adult now that you are 17. But you have a safe place here. A place where you can still be a child. A place where you can ask for help or support or just someone to listen to you.
I guess that is true for the rest of your life. We will always be there for you when you need us. Just remember that as you become an adult, that doesn't mean that you have to quit relying on your dad and I for support.
Growing up doesn't mean out growing your family.
Happy birthday, Mal Mal. In case you didn't know it, and because you can never hear it too many times, I love you bunches.
Monday, March 11, 2013