Teens Say the Darndest Things…

17 08 2010

I’ve spent quite a bit of time with my teens in the last few weeks, savoring the  sweet dregs of last-minute freedom before school starts tomorrow.

Yep. I’m pretty much as bummed as they are. No more spontaneous trips for ice cream and snow cones, no more Saturdays at Six Flags, no more trips to the mall on lazy Sunday afternoons, no more surprise fake mustaches showing up in hidden spots all over my car after giving the kids money to buy vending machine goodies, and no more random kids jogging to my office on a 101 degree day to just “hang out” with me.

One parent asked me (in half seriousness, I think) if I wanted to sign the adoption papers to take custody of her son. I think she was surprised when I readily agreed.

Sure. Skip the baby part. I’ll go from being childless to having a 14-year-old overnight. Sounds great to me.

I’ve been keeping a mental log of the memorable things I’ve heard come out of these kids’ mouths over the last week or so, just so I can either laugh uproariously about them in the privacy of my own home or ponder their sweetness later on. So here, for your pleasure, are a couple of the stand outs that these kids have said to me in the last week:

#1.”Cassie, I really can’t figure out how old you actually are. You just seem so much like you’re totally my age.”

Why I Like It: I still feel like I’m their age–just wiser and with a better sense of fashion than my 14-year-old self. Oh, and a college degree and a ring on my finger, too. I’ve realized that because I can just hang with these kids and live my life with them, side-by-side, they don’t see me as an adult from Planet Lame. And, because of that, they trust me. So I hear the inside scoop–on everything. And yes, I mean everything.

#2. “It’s hard being Cassie Moore sometimes, isn’t it?”

Why I Like It: Working with teens is no job for those who only desire to be popular and well-liked all the time, I’ve discovered. There have been plenty of times where I’ve had to put my foot down and discipline kids. No, I don’t like being the Bad Guy–and that’s exactly what was happening when one of my younger students made this comment to me. In the course of one morning, he saw me balancing the challenging tension of having fun, connecting with students and leaders, and reigning in the unruly troublemakers. I guess the demands of my job that day looked pretty darn unappealing to this poor, innocent youngster.

#3. “I’ve prayed for you, every single night for the last two years.”

Why I Like It: As I watched my 44 students walk across the stage a few weekends ago to be confirmed, I realized that I had prayed for each one of them by name dozens of times–some of them, likely hundreds of times. I had tears in my eyes through both confirmation services, just thinking about how much I truly care for each one of these kids–and most of them don’t even know how much I care about them. To know that one of my dear students was doing the same thing in praying so faithfully for me, unbeknownst to me, gave me chills.

#4. “I think you’ve become my second mom…sooo, you wouldn’t mind buying me a snow cone now, right Mom?”

Why I Like It: One of my students joked last week that he was going to change my name in his cell phone  to “Mom 2”, because I always take “such good care of him”. I’ve bought this kid everything from shoes to dinner, so sometimes I do feel like his mother. I’m grateful that my students know I care for them–that I’m not just going to temporarily plug into their lives and then unplug as soon as the next wave of students comes through my program. I’m invested in them for the long haul, as a good mother would be.

#5. “You know slavery is illegal in the United States now, right?”

Why I Like It: Working with teenagers is challenging–usually it feels like you’re working in the complete dark, because you so rarely see the results of your investment. But, every once in a while, you get a little glimmer of the seeds you’ve sown growing and producing fruit. Last weekend, I spent an entire day at a theme park with twelve teenagers and three other adults, enduring sticky humidity and sore feet and a profusion of “your momma” jokes. At the end of the night, one of my students asked me how he could help me because I was “always helping him”. When I jokingly told him that I was always swamped at work in the summer and that I needed some “slaves” to help me file papers and organize the building, he committed to coming in the next day and working for me. Despite my pleas to not give up a precious last day of freedom before school started, he recruited a friend and spent eight long hours assisting me, tirelessly working without breaks. Their work ethic so clearly revealed the power of the Holy Spirit working in them that it gave me goosebumps–and reminded me that while working with teens is definitely harder than herding cats, it’s infinitely more rewarding (even when you only get an occasional sliver of the results).

#6. “I want to be hanging out with you in 30 years.”

Why I Like It: I want to be hanging out with them in thirty years, too. A few months ago, two of the girls in my small group confided that they had been utterly crushed one afternoon last year, as they realized how insignificant they probably were in my life. In their minds, I was going to leave this church someday and completely forget about them. As they laughingly told me, “You matter too much to us–you’ve changed our lives–but we thought we were going to be nothing to you, that you wouldn’t even remember our names after you left.”  Honestly, I went home and cried over this. I know exactly what they were feeling–I’ve felt it, too. There have been people I’ve connected with and looked up to, and I doubt they can even remember me now. That hurts. But, the fact that these girls know that I won’t do that to them–that they’ve changed my life just as much–is something I’m grateful for. And the reality that they want to be involved in the rest of my life is something that causes me to fall to my knees in thankfulness.

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One response

17 08 2010
Emily

It’s nice to know that I’m not the only DCE that is bummed out when school starts up again. Now I want to see my teenagers. RIGHT NOW!

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