I Have Two Teenagers Now. How to Stop the Madness.


My second son, Thing 2, turned 13 today.

For some reason, I’m not totally blown away by it. Probably because he has been prepping me for it for about 12 years.

I don’t like to really write about my kids on my blog; I like to write of them; there is a distinction. My children have their own stories to tell and I don’t ever want this blog to be a reason why they would feel exploited or have them be the pedestal or shoulder upon which I stand to be seen, heard, noticed.

I write to my dear second son, who is so unique and special in our family.

Dear Thing 2,

The world is in a state of flux. In your lifetime’s small window terrorists have attacked our country and we theirs; we have been in a war as long as you’ve been alive and more and more people are dying of gunshot in public places. Just yesterday horror struck a shopping mall not an hour from where we live. The day before that, three teenagers who were minding their own business walking alongside the road were struck down by drivers who were bent on drag racing in the middle of the day on a busy suburban street; they too lived in Maryland.

I think about the world I am leaving you. I have a long time to go before I leave you, as far as I’m concerned, but I still wish things were simpler.

This is sounding rather depressing, isn’t it? Well, I don’t mean it to sound so sad. Despite what I say, research has shown, somewhere (and statistics can always be shown in one light or another to benefit someone) this is the least-dangerous time in recorded humanity. Piffle.

What I want it to do is to remind you that when all the world has lost its shit (I can say that to you now), that you can stop the madness. You have a light inside you, dear one, that can bring you peace and that can make people smile. You can be and already are a beautiful human being. Friends will come and they will go. Don’t try to save a friendship that has done all it can; learn the lessons you can from it and thank it for enriching your life. Romances fade; love is eternal. Stick with your God-given talents; they will take you far and will always be there for you.

I think about the day you were born. I can’t help it on a day like today: it’s cold out like it was then. The sky is confused. The sun shines behind me but I see gray skies behind the bare trees which stand so tall outside the windows of our cozy house on our little street. This is the first place you’ve ever lived. This is the only place you’ve ever lived.

When you were born, you almost flew out of me you were so ready. I know, “ew, MOM, DON’T…. UCH…” but I will. You were one eager son-of-a-gun. The doctors caught you, just in time, and immediately, you started to howl and curl your tiny body. You were so strong, and so fierce. You reminded me of rope that sits on a dock beside an ocean liner. Your voice, full and real and sweet was so alive, so strong that there was no doubt that you would not only make it, but that your passion would be the biggest part of you. It’s ok though — you are a soul, just like I am and just like everyone else is — and you were just trying to find your way then, as you are now.

Your skin is gorgeous and smooth. Your eyes are bright like copper pennies and your love you wear on your sleeve. Your smile is ready and your kindness knows no bounds. Your imagination gets you into trouble on this one-dimensional world; be sure to keep it alive but also try to tolerate we less-evolved persons who inhabit your planet. Owning our shortcomings makes us bigger people.

You move like a cheetah on the soccer pitch. When you think no one is listening, I hear you sing with passion and a sense of tender gentleness that I didn’t think your body possessed because you live so largely and you feel all your feelings.

The world is a crazy place, young Thing 2. Being 13 just means you’re going to hear more about it, but don’t let it get you down. Do what I do: go inside your beautiful head, say a few prayers for the crazy in the world and then go out and make people smile. Tell a joke, make a friend, sing a song, dress like Batman for no reason and wave at the cars passing by; do the things you already do. Don’t listen to those who want to bring you down to meet them. 

I realize now that what I think is an education is actually a burden for you. Your brain is not wired the way the school system thinks it should be. You are still that piece of rope on the dock — you have so much energy inside you that I know, when you set your mind to something, you will achieve it. Just make sure it’s legal and ethical. That’s all I ask.

Cure cancer. Bring an end to poverty but keep capitalism alive. Make a video which makes people laugh. Write a song that brings people to their feet or to their knees. Keep it real. Be real. Keep evolving, never stop growing and learning.

There’s a song I love. John Mayer’s “Stop this Train.” It’s all about life going too fast. On days like today, when you, my middle child begins his teenage years, I want only to jump on the tracks and stop the train.

I am left with only one more son to hit his teenage years and then that’s all we’ve got… besides new puppies and marriages and babies you might make, this is what I have to look forward to in terms of my engagement as a mother on this planet. It’s not that I’m sad, it’s that I want you to live your life so fully, Thing 2, that I want all your fears removed and when you kick them to the curb, I want to take them and put them in a black velvet bag, stomp on it and push it into a cannon, the old-fashioned kind they have on Bugs Bunny versus Yosemite Sam cartoons and light the fuse and shoot it toward the moon, where Marvin the Martian, like on your hat, can vaporize it with his Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator before it gets there.

I love you Thing 2. Never stop being you.


Thank you.

9 responses »

  1. First off, this is beautiful. You made me tear up. My oldest just turned 17 and my youngest will be 13 this year. I’m already bracing myself for the departure of the firstborn eighteen months from now, because I never cease to be amazed how damned fast time flies when it comes to my children’s childhoods. Second, publish already! Go for it. If you have the time to do the marketing or the money to hire someone else, you can make a go of it. Best to you and yours!

    • Hi T.D. — thank you for swinging by. I agree with you; my oldest is almost 16 and I’m starting to freak out about it. I’ve never felt so old and suddenly I do. I feel this odd sense of urgency about life right now; not anxiety, but a drive to LIVE and reap. I appreciate your encouragement to publish. I think I will clean up my fiction stuff and let it fly “already” as you say. I admire your enthusiasm. It’s one of those things I have for others but not enough for myself. I need me in my corner… 😉

      Take care and best to you and yours as well!

  2. Beautifully written Molly….I wish I could find the words that you do, to express your feelings. My guy will be thirteen at the end of May, and what you wrote about your Thing, reminds me so much of him. I better get started on my letter, because it will take me that long to form one well written paragraph. 😉 I honestly believe your guy will treasure that letter for eternity…..By the way, if you figure out how to slow the train down, please let me know……My son is almost taller than me and takes a size 10 shoe……craaazzzzyyyyy!

    • I have decided that if we only feed them a little bit then it might slow things down, but then they will get sick. So that’s not good. So, I think the only thing we can do is enjoy what we have. Even though it’s sifting through our fingers. I finally have a sense of how my mother must’ve felt as she watched us grow up; my father calls it, these sunset days of his his “time of usefulness” now that he’s aged and can give out advice willy nilly because he’s lived so long. I see him, hunched over, slower, kinder and softer and more sincere — something I never saw until these grieving days — and I suddenly don’t know what to do with it all… all the feelings. It’s a little overwhelming to be in this sandwich, AC. sleep will help. xoxo

  3. Mol: That was beautiful and real. Like you, I want to remain in the light and crawl inside myself. But our world is not like that. There is no safe zone. I, too, will soon have my first teenager in the house. My eyebrows crinkle at the thought of it, really. However, I am taking your words of wisdom to heart. I thank you for that. xoxo

      • I am trying to soak it all in – be in the moment – ya know. I guess the idea of two teenage girls at once sends my heart racing. You have boys, which I know they are branded as much “easier” than girls. But I was a teenage girl once. I did some crazy things. Crazy.

        And, I know there is a point to everything…I’m just going to let that set into my brain and heart for awhile.

        PS I am catching back up on your blog…I love Brene Brown…so be prepared for me to back comment! 🙂

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