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We're Rooting For You: A Letter Our Teenagers Need to Read

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This one is for the big kids, the almost young adults, the friends and classmates of my kids. It needs to be written before you all think I am a certified crazy person. I have to explain the reason I look like I want to pinch your cheeks in public when in many cases I barely know you and you are much too old for cheek pinching. Believe me, I try and hold back from looking at you with the shiny eyes of a mom watching a baby take its first steps. I swear I am not a weirdo stalker. My poor kids just shake their heads and know that there is nothing they can do to stop it. They know the look. This is what I look like when I am proud of you. Yes, you, adult/child that I barely know.

Because here is the thing you might not realize as you are blossoming into adults. Gag, right...who wants someone else's mom to talk about them blossoming, but really I swear this word describes your growing up so well. Those of us who have had this adult gig for awhile cannot help but root for each and every one of you from the sidelines as you cross over to our land of Adultville.

We are excited to have you here. You represent so much promise and energy and dreams that are waiting to unfold. Each step you take into our world makes me want to do a little cheer for you. Just the sight of you kids warms my heart. I watched you take your first steps into kindergarten clutching your parent's hands, now you're holding an actual driver's licenses and it amazes me. And here you are taking my complicated lunch order with all the side items and you are getting it right. It makes me want to clap my hands and give you a high five. You are out there. You are rocking it and making mistakes and learning and becoming your full selves right there behind the counter of McDonald's. It is amazing stuff.

We are rooting for you not only to get our order right, but to enjoy your time behind the counter, to make new friends in new situations just as we did. We are rooting for you not only to have a great time at that dance, but to pick yourself up and dust yourself off after failing that test. To make great decisions and some questionable ones. We watch you from a distance and we see ourselves as we once were.

But now, we have a giant load of perspective and see you in a light that is probably much different than the one you see yourself in sometimes. We see that you are growing up. You are probably waiting for life to start but we see that you are already living it. You are growing up into this adult version of the person you have always been...you cannot even believe how much you resemble that kid who was singing in the school Christmas concert when you were 6. For real. And in the best possible ways. We have been watching this whole time and we want life to be awesome for you.

Sometimes our support will be obvious, you will have milestone moments that will knock your socks off from time to time. You will have events in your life, graduations, marriage, babies, big things will happen and you will find that your tribe is larger than you imagined. You will look around and realize that you have many people in your corner. It is heady stuff to take in.

But what you probably didn't know is these milestones are meaningful for us on the outskirts. The teachers you had and didn't have. The friends of your parents. The parents of your friends. We all root for you too. We feel connected to you through watching you at school, in plays and on the basketball court, through the time you played at our house when you were 9, through the one week we spent teaching you in summer school. That's all it took for us to root for you. Call it "unconditional rooting" if you will. You showed up, we got to see you and know you, and now you are stuck with us cheering for you in your corner.

So when times get tough, or if you see someone like me smiling a goofy grin and telling you I am so happy with how well you took my order and that your visor looks AMAZING on you, please know that it comes from a totally non-creepy place. I care about how your life is going. I want it to go well. So, so many people do. If you feel alone or friendless or awkward or like you have no idea what you are doing, that is so OK. We get it. We've fallen on our faces before too.

But that perspective has shown us what it will someday show you. The falls have huge lessons to teach and there is never any shame in learning. We believe in you. We are not disappointed when you fail. We are sympathetic and know failure brings learning and know that it's what has to happen from time to time. We are rooting for you....not only when you are bagging our groceries, but in everything you do.


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