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And It All Begins

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

Several years ago when I began thinking about the idea of having a company that encouraged teachers, students and parents, I started writing a book on raising teenagers. It all came about from my years of being a principal. I thought about calling my book Confessions of a Secondary Principal. I am not sure that is the correct title, but I learned a lot about teenagers when I was managing them as a principal. The next few blog posts will be chapters from the book I started. These chapters were to encourage parents to take a look back at their teenage years and remember how hard it was to be a teenager. You couldn't pay me to go back to those days.

And It All Begins

Chapter 1 And it All Begins

Once upon a time there was a beautiful Garden. It was so beautiful that it had everything anyone ever wanted. It had food, water, shelter, animals, and so much more. This garden was owned by a Father. A Father who created this

majestic place. The Father had two children. One was a boy and one was a girl, and the children played in the garden, ate food from it’s trees, and played with the animals. It was a beautiful picture of perfection, but one day the children began to have feelings they had never had before. They began to wonder if all that was in front of them was truth. They began to be curious of the Fathers intentions for them. They started to wonder if there was more to this marvelous place. When the Father first made the children, he told them they had the freedom to live in the garden, to name the animals created, and eat from any tree or plant created, but one. The one tree that was forbidden. Kind of like that one thing mom and dad said to never touch. The Children really did not think another thought about the one tree, until one day someone questioned their trust. A serpent, not just any serpent, but an evil one. This serpent questioned their beliefs. He challenged their thoughts and made them curious. I know you are probably wondering why I am telling you this story, but I want to relate it to what I deal with everyday.

When a student at my school turns between the ages of 12 to 13, something in them challenges their beliefs. They start wondering, are my parents words true? Do they know something I don’t know? Are they keeping secrets from me about the truth? They crave knowledge. They want to know what we know. They become curious, even rebellious to the rules. They begin to believe there is something we are not telling them, and they want to eat of the fruit to understand the truth, but they still like their life as a child where there are no worries or cares. Where the parents protect them and provide security. They are not sure they want to give this up, but something pulls at their minds. Something urges them to explore further.

Around 14 to 16 they begin testing limits. They begin breaking rules, and finding out bits and pieces of the real world from the culture around them. A world that is so different from the one they knew as a child. They choose to take a bite of reality or that fruit, and everything changes. Responsibility, hard decisions, solving problems that they never had to solve before, and sexuality all pop up in an instance. They have no idea what to do with all the knowledge that is entering their brains. It almost feels like too much.

By 17 to 20 they realize that their life as a child is over. Mom and Dad are about to let the bird out to fly. Reality is no longer like a movie they are watching, but the life they are now living. They are still pushing the limits, but begin to understand why their parents hid the truth for so long, and they miss their childhood world. They want the chance at the future Mom and Dad have experienced. They believe they can do it and can do it better than their parents did, but they are still insecure about their purpose.

Do you remember these feelings? Do you remember when life changed? Do you remember not knowing if it was better to be innocent or knowledgeable of the world around you?

I remember in the 7th grade. It was the first day of Junior High. I was scared to death and excited all at the same time! I could not wait to go to a school where I got to change classes, eat lunch with my entire class, and be more responsible. I was so cool in my elementary school. Everyone liked me there, and everyone was my friend. I just knew that Junior High would be ten times better. Before this day, I was already getting ready for it. I got the coolest school supplies, with the advice from my closest friends. I bought new shoes called Dexters. They were the second coolest shoes on the market, Cohans were first, but my parents could not afford them. I had my cool school shirt, my khaki shorts taylored, my red calf-high socks, with my new leather Dexter shoes, and the perfect red and white bow with my hair in a ponytail. I looked like the kids in the latest JCPenney Catalog. I was ready to be popular, and life could not get better than this! Then I walked into the doors of the Junior High.

As I looked around no one had colored socks that went half way up their calf, no one had their hair in a ponytail with a huge bow, and no one was wearing a school t-shirt. Some girls had dresses on, and most were wearing makeup! What! My mom would never let me wear makeup. I went to my first class, and I felt like the odd one out. Some of the students began laughing at me and one girl even called me a nerd! My life was over! How could my parents have not told me how terrible this was going to be! From this point on I had no idea who I was. I wanted to go back to elementary school where everyone loved me, I had recess, and the work was so much easier. The teachers seemed to be speaking in another language. I thought what did they teach me in elementary school, nothing! I should have been more prepared. I should have been coached on how to deal with this huge change. I felt alone, and began to wonder if my parents were against me. I came home and my mom said, “ Hi honey, how was your day?” Her voice sounded like nails on a chalkboard. I responded with, “Fine!” and ran to my room and slammed the door. I have no idea what my mom thought about my response and did not care. I cried in my room until mom called for dinner, and I straightened up and walked into the dining room. My parents were there with supper on the table and for the first time, I did not trust the people who had always been there for me. I thought they should have been more helpful in this situation. They should not have protected me from this world. This world I knew nothing about.

I always wondered if Adam and Eve had these feelings in the desert. I wonder if they were ever mad at God for sending them out of their perfect world.

From this point on I was not pleased with my new found life. I did not want to know the knowledge of pain, disappointment, fear, and failure, but what I found is everyone goes through it. Everyone has this moment when life changes and they are put in the desert to work, to suffer, and to accept reality, that this world is not as good as they once thought. Ironically, from here on out life seems to not get better than this, but it is all how you perceive the true reality. It is how you see life. Do you see a glass half empty or a glass half full? Our job as parents are to help our children see a world that was created by a good God with a good purpose for his creation. Sometimes we miss the boat when our mind tells us this world is not good. God said everything was good, and we have to continually put positive words of affirmation in our teenager's mind. When they get a dose of negativity, it is hard to change those negative thoughts to positive thoughts. Our brains are wired for some reason to focus on the negative things that happen instead of the positive.

Our first job, is to help our children know they were created for good. Struggles will happen but they are resilient and have the ability to overcome any struggle in life with the help of the Father.

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