June 28, 2014
Filed Under (Family) by svana

Last year I didn’t post a birthday entry because it was your Grade 8 graduation, and at the end of a spectacularly difficult year you were absolutely radiant, and that needed to be honoured.

Not that turning 14 is any small shakes, but let’s face it, you kicked ass at Grad.

Today, a day before your 15th birthday, you left us at 7:15 in the morning to go to Ottawa for 5 days.

This trip is the culmination of your first year of high school and the closing of your year with the Beal Singers.

We gave you three options for this trip: 1) To attend with one of us, 2) To attend with both of us, 3) To venture forth on your own.

A couple of days after you were given your options, you decided to take this great trip on your own, and we are so proud of you for that.

This morning I’d like to believe we didn’t embarrass you. We accepted our hugs and kisses and hung back, and I’m sure you appreciated that. You need to know, I did not cry. I marvelled at how much personal growth you’ve experienced this year, and how extraordinary you are, not only in our eyes, but in the eyes of others.

But without further ado: 15 Things To Know As You Turn 15

1) Change Is The Only Constant In Your Life.

Some people say death and taxes are the only two things you can count on. I disagree.

Change is our constant companion; a test of our mettle; it determines whether we expand our horizons, or retreat into a box.

This year you have been faced with a tremendous amount of change. A huge school. A completely different routine. And new people. And, true to your nature, you have adapted beautifully.

I hope you maintain your ability to navigate the waters of change, however choppy.

2) Real Women Use Power Tools

This is one you’ve already discovered. Real women use power tools. And well, I might add.

Having grown up being raised by a single parent (your grandmother), you can’t always hire someone to come in and do the job for you. Sometimes you need to learn to do the job yourself.

There are very few “last bastions of male dominance” left untouched by women. Understand that your gender does not define you. It only determines which bathroom you go into.

Women are neither weak, nor frail. We use power tools, hand tools, change oil on a car, wield chainsaws, wire lights in series. You are capable of this, and so much more.

Do not let anyone convince you, or tell you, otherwise, simply because “you have female parts”.

And to that jackass in your Tech class, who is surfing at a 60, how shameful it must be for you to have a pretty girl be at the top of the class, without her breaking a nail.

3 White Pants

The person who invented white pants needs to be shot, hung, and pissed on. And not necessarily in that order.

Having said that, I stand by my original statement of: “Never date a guy who wears white pants.”

And, to add an extension to that thought, if he wears a “wife-beater” T-shirt and bathes in Axe Body Spray, that practically screams “douche” and you should avoid him like the plague.

I can not stress this strongly enough.

I mean, come on, really? A “wife-beater” t-shirt. That pretty much says it all.

4 Never Say Anything Behind Someone’s Back That You Are Not Prepared To Say To Their Face

We all have that one person in a group of friends that simultaneously irritates everyone. As satisfying as it is to have a bitch session about that one friend, it’s not always productive.

Repeated half statements out of context can cause immeasurable harm.

Be forthright, even if it’s uncomfortable to the person who is driving you around the bend.

Not accusatory, but speak from a place of your feelings and your emotions.

This will clear the road, and avoid any future misunderstandings.

Simply put, be careful who you vent to.

5 People Change

Try not to be hurt by it.

It’s a painful thing when somebody you love changes so much that you no longer recognize them, or no longer recognize the thing that drew you to them in the first place.

This is a fact of life. Some people we grow closer to, others we grow apart from.

You’ve never been a popularity hound. It’s always been important for you to have a few close friends versus a posse or an entourage of faux friends.

As this year has shown you, friendships come in the most unlikely places. And that is something to be treasured.

The people who pass through our lives may not stay, but they bring a lesson as they travel through.

That’s not to say that all your friendships that you’ve built this year will disappear, simply that they will change. Either you will change with them, or you won’t. Be grateful for the experience and accept it for what it is.

6 Dating

Your Dad and I never really set an age on when you were allowed to date. We just figured that when you were ready you would dip your toe into the pond.

I hope you don’t feel pressured by your peers to dive into the pond before you’re ready.

Our largest concern about dating is that you are treated with respect, and that you treat your partner with respect, on all levels.

Not everybody in your age group is capable of keeping up with you intellectually or emotionally. Remember that, please.

Yes, you hang out with some terrifically bright individuals, for which we are thankful. That does not mean that they will nurture the constant activity of your brain.

Remember, “being alone for the right reasons is better than being with somebody for the wrong reasons” is one of the more valuable lessons we can share with you. “Because everyone else is getting married!” is not a good reason.

7 Seek Validation Inside Yourself, Not Inside The Words Of Others

We don’t need to teach you about a moral compass. You have one, and it is strong. You’re big on rules, kiddo, for which we are tremendously grateful.

That also includes moral rules.

We all like the approval of our peers. However, in the teen years approval of your peers can be somewhat tainted. Beware of the person who constantly tries to one-up you, who leaves you feeling that vague sense of “I’m not good enough”. You avoid this person, because they are insecure.

They are the person that tears you down to make themselves feel, or look, better.

If you have done your best, and you are satisfied with what you have done, you don’t need anybody else’s validation but your own.

If you conduct yourself with the highest use of your moral and mental compass, you will never disappoint yourself. That includes your interactions with insecure people.

8 Find A Cause

You are surrounded by many opportunities. In the coming year you will have the opportunity to involve yourself in various clubs at school. Get involved. Find something that feeds your soul.

Whether it’s Social Justice, Gender Diversity, Chess, Knitting, Basket-weaving 101, whatever floats your boat.

Challenge yourself. Make yourself a little bit uncomfortable.

These clubs are here for you to learn. To have the ability to take a path not previously presented. Perhaps a path that you never thought existed.

9 You Teach Us

As parents it is our obligation to learn as much, if not more, from you than, perhaps, you learn from us at this point.

We’ve given you a fairly extensive toolkit to navigate your life as it stands. However, we are always open to upgrading that toolkit.

The beauty of our relationship with you is that we learn from you more than you might expect.

I can’t necessarily give you specific examples, however, you teach us to listen more closely than we have before. To observe with a keener eye. To ask more probing questions.

It’s not because you’ve become secretive, it’s because you’ve changed. You’re growing up, and unless we grow with you we are not doing our jobs as parents. So, thank you for teaching us.

10 Creepers Beware

While your Dad may observe a situation with a smile and a tongue-in-cheek laugh, I have real issues with the creepy 40-year-old men who stare at my 15-year-old daughter’s breasts.

I understand it’s a genetic imperative (“Oh look, boobies!”), unfortunately it’s hard for me not to be horrified by such an aggressive, blatant oggle from a man who is old enough to be your damn father! Especially in the malls. It makes me want to run around smacking people. “Don’t look at my daughter’s breasts!”

I know you laugh and think this is highly amusing, but I have issues with you being objectified and viewed as a faceless sexual object, not as a person. Not as the brilliant soul you are.

I’m not denying your sexuality and your physical awareness of self. I am objecting to creepy, middle-aged men leaving drool spots on your tank top from 20 feet away.

I may have to slap a few of them, so please keep bail money handy.

11 While We’re On The Topic: Sex!

Now that I have your attention, and you’re covering your face in embarrassment and screaming “Oh god, not this again!” we will touch on this once more.

Guess what? Your generation did not invent sex.

Wanna know something else? Neither did mine.

Short of a very limited number of things, there is nothing that you will encounter that either your Dad or I have not encountered ourselves. Trust me, we’ve been here 40-odd years, we’ve likely encountered it.

While we’re on the topic, we don’t care about your sexual orientation. We only care that you are safe and well-treated. That means: “No glove, no love!”

If you’re considering becoming sexually active, talk to one of us. I assure you, we will not blow our stacks. We will talk with you.

Whenever you decide to become active, we want to make sure that you are supported emotionally, prepared physically and, above all else, safe and respected.

12 We Like Meeting Your Friends

A fairly reasonable gauge of how you are doing is illustrated by the friends that you have. Yup, we are old-fashioned. We do want to meet your friends before you spend the night.

I’m not sure how we would address you staying over at a male friend’s house. And yes, I mean friend here, because that does happen, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Your friends will always be a very strong influence on you. Cosplay. Need I say more?

We’re delighted that you feel comfortable introducing your friends to us and that you allow us to get to know them. That’s important.

We should have at least a limited relationship with your friends. You never know when that might be helpful.

Having said that, you must understand that there will be some friends that we may not necessarily approve of. We will always be honest and tell you why. I can guarantee you, it will not be because of their race/creed/religion/sexual orientation. It will be because of the person that they are.

While you may not agree with us, because often times we choose to see the best in others rather than the worst, please understand that we are not trying to be asshole parents. We’re trying to share a bit of foresight and wisdom, because we’ve seen this before.

13 WYSIWYG (Whizzy-Wig)

I’m a firm believer in What You See Is What You Get.

If you consistently conduct yourself with honesty and integrity, even if it can come across as being a bit sharp to some, it is less likely that people will question your honesty and integrity.

What You See Is What You Get.

14 We Are Not Perfect

I’d like to believe that as parents we are not too bad. We’ve tried not to screw up too badly. I’d like to believe that we are fair, honest, open and straightforward.

There are times where we will drop the ball, kiddo. Where life gets crazy busy and something falls through the cracks.

We rely on you to remind us when our focus isn’t where it should be.

If we say something careless, if we are impatiently sharp, please forgive us, we aren’t perfect.

Sometimes a gentle reminder for us not to be so tied up in the outside world and to pay attention to the inside world of our family is needed, and we count on you to give us that reminder.

Your voice counts.

15 You Are Special, And Not Just to Us

It’s interesting. Every person that gets to know you, every adult person that gets to know you, sees your potential, even if you don’t.

It’s not by anything that I’ve said, it’s because of the person you are.

Our nurse from the doctor’s office said to me last time I was in, “I know she’s going to change the world.”

This is somebody who hasn’t had a chance to be with you day-to-day, who has observed you over the intervals of years, has watched you grow from a bump to the person you are now, and has recognized your potential.

This isn’t a statement to pressure you. I’m not suggesting that you’ll go out and discover cold fusion tomorrow (even though that would be cool), I’m merely pointing out that many people from many different viewpoints see something extraordinary in you. I look forward to watching what it is you are going to do.

All your discoveries over the years have filled us with wonder and allowed us to view the world with renewed interest.

To us, you are always going to be a gift. I find it reassuring that other people view you the same way.


Although you are not home right now, and we will feel your absence tomorrow keenly, we could not be more proud of you and the human being that you are.

By the way, Nelson says he misses you and he will punish you for two days after you get back, but he can’t wait for you to return.

We love you.

Happy 15th Birthday!

Leave a Reply