People Change (and kids are people too)

There was a time in my life when I ate twinkies for breakfast.

I was once pretty convinced that I would never have children – smelly, noisy, weird little things. 

I remember getting up at 4 AM in highschool just to curl my hair and do my makeup before school. 

Dear Photograph, Oh to put on daddy’s hat and go for the big fish all over again! Deb Wheaton
Photo from Dear Photograph

I used to have so much anxiety about making phone calls that I would have to write down the dialogue and follow a script just to order a pizza or invite a friend over.

When I started college, I swore I would never give in to the cell phone trend.  Um, yeah.

I did a lot of things in 2003, oh and 2004, that I would never, ever, ever do again.  Seriously, never.

I once doubted that religion had a place in my life. 

There was even a time that I doubted my worth as a human being so completely that I thought I couldn’t go on, thought I could starve some of the hurt, thought I would be friendless and broken forever.

Thank goodness people change.  Thank goodness we can make new choices, educate ourselves, change our minds, do things differently. 

I am so glad I don’t have to be the person I was.  I am thankful for the opportunities I have had to change my mind, to change my actions, to move on and move forward.  I don’t even want to think about a life that involves 4 AM dates with a curling iron and hot rollers. 

Change isn’t just good, it is an important part of living, which is why it kills me when I hear parents put their kids and teens in boxes. 

My daughter is shy. 

My son isn’t self-motivated.

My daughter is bossy. 

My son is aggressive.

My daughter is sloppy.

My son has to be the center of attention.

My daughter is needy.

My son is a trouble-maker.

My daughter is a girly-girl.

My son is irresponsible.

And they might be.  Right now.  They might be like that once or twice, or a for a few months, or for a few years, or even a whole span of years, until they’re not anymore.  Because people change. 

As adults it is easy to see that we’ve all done things that are silly to us later on, things that we wouldn’t do again, things we regret.  We’ve all changed a little over a time, seen things from a different perspective, had a change of heart, replaced ignorance with knowledge.  That’s what it means to grow up – when you’re ten and when you’re fifty.   

But it is easier to change if you don’t have to fight your way out of a box to do it.

Everytime someone labels a kid – shy, nervous, clumsy, reckless – it becomes more a part of their identity. But it doesn’t have to be.  I have been lazy, but I am not a lazy person. I have been messy, but I am not a messy person.  We don’t have to put our kids and our teens in boxes.

When I was expecting my first child, some of the people who had known me for many years gave me a hard time.  They hassled me about becoming a mother because I had vowed for so many years that it wouldn’t happen to me, that I wasn’t interested in parenting.  They teased me and questioned me and laughed at the very thought of me with a baby.  It bothered me, of course.  It even worried me and made me doubt myself and my ability to be a good parent and a nurturing mother.

They’d never seen me with a baby before.  They knew the person that I had been and that person couldn’t care less about kids.  What they didn’t know, what I didn’t even know, was the person I would become as a mother.  Having a baby changed me and changed my life.  As a mother I became someone who is deeply spiritual, someone who is connected to nature, someone who finds comfort in the homemaking traditions of the past, someone who finds solace in creative endeavors, someone different.   I changed, but I had to fight my way out of a box to do it.

Your kids are going to change too.  They are going to grow.  Make it easier on them.  Don’t label them.  Don’t limit them.  Don’t tell them who they are.   Let them be.  Let them change.  Let them show you.

What kind of changes in life and habits and personality have you made?
Can you see how the people in your life have made it easier or harder for you to change?

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