I slammed the door closed and trotted up the attic steps. I silently thanked myself for remembering to turn on the air conditioning earlier that day. For most of the year, Cleveland buries us in chilly overcast, but for those 31 days of July, we sweat in the Sun’s sauna. It’s almost as if she makes us suffer so we are more grateful for her presence. I got it Sun; thank you.
I laid on my bed and stared at the stars on my ceiling. Literally, gold outlined stars that I painted the year earlier. I appreciated the constant reminder that we are just a small speck in this big ol’ universe.
The tears still stained my cheeks as I thought about her and the argument we just had. For having me so young, I didn’t understand why it was so difficult for her to understand my situation; to truly understand it.
I wanted to live as the role model – the good girl she was looking for – but I also wanted space to breathe. This included saying the wrong things, being upset and not knowing exactly why, making mistakes. I didn’t need someone to tell me to act differently; I wanted someone to put themselves in my shoes and just ask me why.
Those thoughts were all erased, however, when I heard another person’s soft trots on my bedroom stairs. Her treads sounded light to me, but for her 60-pound 9-year-old frame, they were probably heavy. Very heavy.
She grazed past my CD sound system (technically a boombox?), fingers lightly dusting the *NSYNC and Spice Girls collections, before she plopped down next to me. “Why do you and mom always fight?” she asked me with those bright blue elementary school eyes.
I still stared at the ceiling as I thought about how to answer her question; how do I explain the ways of a teenage world to a 9-year-old? My wisdom somehow got the better of me.
“One day, you’ll understand” I choked out. She murmured back a soft, “maybe.”
It’s been ten years since that moment and my wisdom-beyond-my-years comment still baffles me. I know that she understands now. I watched her fight her own emotional battles – just like I did all those years ago.
I think about how each year, on her birthday, I leave her a little note for what to expect in the upcoming age. Most of them consist of quotes from songs, each touching upon all those feelings of what it means to live a specific year in life.
- 16 – “Hold on to sixteen for as long as you can; changes come around real soon make us women and men.” ~John Cougar Mellencamp
- 17 – “Seventeen; only comes once in a lifetime. Don’t it just fly by wild and free; going any way the wind blew baby. Seventeen. Living on crazy dreams, rock and roll and faded blue jeans. Standing on the edge of everything.” ~Tim McGraw
- 18 – “She was staring out the window of their SUV, complaining saying ‘I can’t wait to turn 18.’ I’ll make my own money and I’ll make my own rules…. But you’re going to miss this. You’re going to want this back. You’re going to wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast. These are some good times so take a look around. You may not know it now, but you’re going to miss this.” ~Trace Adkins
- 19 – “Didn’t give a damn what people say. We were doing it; doing it our way. I wish we could always stay nineteen and crazy.” ~Bomshel
- 20 – you’ll have to wait until February to see
I listen to her on the phone now – heart full of emotions and fears – as the questions ramble out. How do I know I picked the right major? Why am I feeling this way? What if I’m doing it all wrong? I can’t help, but see so much of myself in her words. I was there once too.
I don’t have song lyrics today, but I do have this:
-It’s okay for you to feel certain ways; you can have whatever feelings you want and if you want to cry all night and not know why? That’s okay too; I still do it sometimes.
-I know now it’s hard to sort through everything, but one day you’ll be able to more clearly define your feelings and articulate them more constructively. This is a weird thought right now, but it’s true.
-You don’t have to control everything and you can’t control everything. Live in the present moment and trust God.
I know these concepts are all foreign and scary so maybe the best thing to say is just… “one day, you’ll understand.”
*Linking up with Mama Kat’s writer’s workshop. Prompt #3: Share a story about a sibling that still makes you smile.