Monday, March 28, 2011

A Van Full of Teenage Girls

Friday afternoon, 2 minivans headed to the local high school to pick up 6 teen girls. Some are girls from our church and some are friends from school. Specifically, 5 are associated with church and 1 is part of their group at school. All are around 15 years old. All attend public school together.

I have to tell you that I was nervous. I was thinking back to what I was like as a teenager and trying to remember what I thought about adults. But my looking back is skewed because I was dealing with some serious and heavy issues as a teen. Bottom line was that I wanted these kids to like me. I knew a couple of them well enough to be comfortable with them. I'd watched a few of them growing up over the years. But I was worried about them liking me, accepting me, trusting me. Silly, isn't it? I'm an adult. I've already been through that stage in my life where I worry about being liked and accepted. But something about hanging out with teens took me back to that place from my own teen-hood.

I shouldn't have worried. These girls were awesome. I should have realized everything would be fine since I was the only chaperone who wasn't a parent of one of the kids. The other minivan held all the stuff the girls had packed and 2 moms of 2 of the girls. I got the girls and their energy and their laughter and their conversation all to myself. And it was an important lesson, really.

And it is something I want other grown ups to know. If there are teens around you- at church, in your neighborhood- chances are good they are good kids. And chances are good they want to talk to you. They want to know that you love them and that you care and that you see their value.

One of the girls has some serious and ongoing health issues. She has a supportive and loving family. She's smart and witty and pretty and caring. Because she deals with ongoing pain and with a serious health concern, she is more aware of the bigger things in life.

One of the girls has a home life that isn't the best. She loves her parents and I'm sure they love her. But I'm told they are incredibly strict and come down really hard on her over ridiculous things. And that when they come down- they are mean and say things that hurt the heart. And she's this amazing girl. She has this wonderfully silly side that I got to see for the first time ever. She is considerate, polite, and feels deeply and intensely.

One of these girls often seems dark and moody. But she's carrying around someone else's pain as her own burden. And she's scared of what will happen if she ever lets go. I think others see her as wandering, lost, uncaring, and morose. And I see her trying hard to fit that description. But I also saw those layers get peeled back and I saw her let down that guard. I was honored to be able to talk to her from time to time about her dreams, her life, her joy.

One of these girls still holds a child's heart and her joy and amazement flows freely from her. She is a spark. She has hurt in her heart due to having "broken homes." But her love of life and the intensity with which she feels happiness and shares it is going to take her far.

These are your average, everyday girls who are dealing with school and grades and boys and prom and parents and pressure and stress and deep questions and still have a desire to just be kids. They colored on our road trip- crayons and coloring books. They like to play board games, several of them don't really mind hanging out with their parents, they are learning to swing dance. They are passionate about making a positive change in the world. They have goals- being an Army medic, a firefighter, a crime scene investigator, finding a cure for diabetes. I watched them dance and sing and hug and talk and play together.

Personally, I'm eager and excited to be around these remarkable girls. I can't wait to stay connected to them. I saw some of them Sunday morning at church and was positively giddy about it. I'll see more of them on Wednesday at our church dinner/small group time. I learned so much about them this weekend- in just over 24 hours.

And I can't wait to learn even more.



Nancy said...

Sounds like a great time! I remember being involved with a girl's group at my church growing up. The ladies who led the group were awesome and I loved the time we spent together!

Garret said...

Soon enough you'll have your own daughter to share dreams with. Good practice for now. Besides if you screw up, you can just send them back. Kinda like pressing a reset button. ;-)

Liz Mays said...

I know that you're going to be a positive, supportive, and loving influence to the girls. I can tell already. :)

Alison said...

I'll always be thankful that I went back to teaching high school after too many years in graduate school. It reminded me that not all teens are moody and defiant. That most of them are good-hearted and vulnerable.

Even simply walking around the neighborhood, it's fun to see the surprise on their faces when I just say "hi" as I walk on by. It's like, "Omigosh, that woman just noticed me! And she didn't scowl or tell me off." And they're generally very polite in return.

C. Beth said...

Awesome. I really love the preteen & teen years. I enjoy my Little Sis now (when she's 17) so much more than I did when we met and she was 9.

Dillypoo said...

You made me smile today. Thank you!

julie moore said...

This was inspiring and I'm glad to know that there are young girls out there wanting to change the world for the better. Hey Liz I have given you an award on my last post , hope you'll accept.

Anonymous said...

I love hanging with teens! I think one of the best compliments I received was last week when my daughter's college tennis team was in Hilton Head for Spring Break. There was a college from Indiana and some of the girls hung with them one night. They came back and asked my daughter if she knew them. Turns out they knew of my daughter but said they knew her mom cool is that?

Karen M. Peterson said...

Teenagers are really awesome people. I've stepped back from working with the girls I've spent the last three years getting to know. It was time for me to do that. But I love each and everyone of them, and they all know they can always come to me for anything.