My seven-year-old played a while back with his friend who is the same age. They were having a good time until some altercation arose, and my son sulked off annoyed. I tried to coax what was wrong out of him only to be met with glares and two thumbs down as his response.
“The teen years are so hard.” I joked to my friend who laughed in agreement.
About a week before that incident, I helped our parish teach Bible School. Along with many adults, a large group of teens volunteered to help too. They were assigned to every area.
I ran the games station where we rotated different age groups through games while trying to instill the daily lesson in a fun way. I watched as my teen helpers patiently helped little ones through a fun obstacle course meant to demonstrate the vocation of marriage. I saw the teens guide and coax reluctant 4th graders through a trust exercise and assist 2nd graders to stay in their “boat” as they crossed a “lake” as Jesus’ “disciples.”
I saw teenagers laughing and talking together as they brought in boxes of snacks. Teens made decorations, put up decorations and took down decorations. As the morning wrapped up and clean up began, one teen quickly started vacuuming while another mopped.
I didn’t hear complaining.
There were no grumpy comments about working all morning with little children. They hugged littles, helped littles and brought joy to each day.
To many of us, it’s a daunting prospect raising our babies after they turn thirteen. Society and our own experiences have taught us that teens tend withdraw and not communicate with their parents. They go against their parents’ judgement calls when they think they suddenly know all the answers.
But that week I saw hope for the future.
I saw some of the young people who will go out into the world one day. They will not be selfish and discontented. They will go out with joy and a servant’s heart to make their piece of the world better. They will bring Christ to those around them. They will bring joy to children. And they will show all of us moms that with God’s help, raising our babies to know, love and serve Him, is very possible.