I don’t know what it feels like to hear the words that two sets of parents received
this past weekend. Like every other parent, I don’t ever want to know. I’m not sure I am
strong enough to handle it.
So, this is to the teen-agers. It’s a message and a prayer. It’s from us to you.
We were once just like you--just as young and darling. We were once sure that
our parents had no clue as to what we wanted or what we were about. We were once,
scared to death to face that world. We were once like you.
The only real difference between us as parents and you as teen-agers is a lot of
“been there’s, and done that’s.” And, believe me, a lot of our “done that’s” were just as
dumb and silly and dangerous and exciting as anything you’ve done or will do. That’s why we worry.
We made it through. We got older. We fell in love. We got married. we had
you. That means we sat up endless nights while you were a baby. We changed you when
you were wet. We fed you when you were hungry. we held you when you cried. We
fretted over you when you were sick.
We watched you take your first step. We made stupid faces to see you laugh. We
listen to your first words. We bragged about you at work. We carried pictures of you in
our wallets and put others on our desks.
We sent you off to your first day at school. We kept your drawings and school
projects. We put your birthday cards on the refrigerator. we watched you in your first
play. We cheered for you when you made the team. We drove you everywhere. We
worried about whether you’d be popular, and then, when you were, we worried about your friends.
We were angry when we shouldn’t have been. We asked you questions we
shouldn’t have. We made mistakes and hurt your feelings. We didn’t say, “I’m sorry” or
“I love you” often enough. We argued with you. We laughed with you. We stayed
awake in bed when you stayed out later than your curfew.
We watched you change before our eyes into strong young men and women who
were about to leave us. We were scared and happy and sorry at the same time.
We want to see you become firefighters and doctors and lawyers and policemen,
merchants, pilots, beauticians, teachers, librarians, and forest rangers. We want to talk
with you about how exciting your work is. We want to listen to you tell us how dumb or mean your boss is.
We want to see you meet the man or woman of your dreams. We want to see you
fall in love and do the same crazy things we did. We want to pass you a few dollars to
help you through the rough stops. We want to see you have children and watch you start
all of this all over again.
The thing we’re most afraid of is that, sometimes, those things we worry about
happen. Sometimes, for no rhyme or reason, you’re taken from us by things beyond our
control. Sometimes, we never get to see or do the things that I’ve talked about because
you’re not here anymore--and that is a hurt that cannot be described.
So, this is for you, the teen-agers out there. It’s the same thing parents have said
to their children forever. It’s the some thing you’ll say to your children . They’ll fell the
same way about hearing it from you as you do when hearing it from us.
Please. Be careful.
We love you.
You’re all we really have.
Ann Landers’ column, distributed by Creators Syndicate Inc., appears in The
Patriot-News and The Sunday Patriot-News.
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