Today I am thankful for cool nieces and nephews! My oldest brother, Connon, lives with us. He is divorced from Rainee's mother. He has 4 children, of which Rainee is the oldest. Recently, Rainee (14), came to live in our house.
Although Rainee is pretty much your average teenager (some days she wants to talk, other days she is quiet as a mouse), I really enjoy having her here! Tonight I was up late packing my scrapbooking supplies for an event I'm going to tomorrow. While I was packing/organizing, Rainee came into my craft room and just "hung out" with me. She talked to me a little about her hobbies (music and Japanese anime). She explained what anime is all about and even told me a few of the stories of some of her favorites. I was impressed at how articulate and insightful she is. She described the characters' complex relationships with such understanding and wisdom, it made me really feel like she "gets" it.
It's easy to think of teenagers as difficult sometimes. It's easy to try to give them a bunch of rules and expect them to just blindly follow them because "I said so" or "that's just the way it is." It's more difficult to try to venture into their world, which is a strange mix of childhood naivete and newfound independence and knowledge. But, to me, it is just so exciting! I love hearing what Rainee has to say and the things she thinks of. It reminds me of 3 and 4 year olds. When children are about that age, they have learned to talk. It's then that they begin to put not only words but concepts together, as well. That's when some of those "funny" things kids say come out. If you listen to what a child says at that age, you learn to see things in a new perspective.
I just heard a friend, Peggy, tell a story yesterday about how when her son was young she used to take him to a Sonic drive-in from time to time. (If you aren't from the mid-west, you may not be very familiar with Sonic. It's like a McDonald's more or less, but instead of a drive-thru window, you park your car at a "station" and order over an intercom. A car-hop brings your order out to you.) Her son used to always say he didn't want to eat at Sonic, and she couldn't for the life of her figure out why. They have corn dogs, tater tots, hamburgers, ice cream--all the things a normal kid would love! As it turns out, her son, who is now in his early 20s, recently told her what his aversion to Sonic had been as a child. He said he didn't like to go there because when he'd look at the pictures of food to choose from on the menu board, he never saw anything that looked good. He didn't want to eat a green hamburger or green ice cream. Peggy asked her son what he was talking about? He said, "Well what I know now is that the menu was faded/stained from being outside in the sun for so long. Because of this, all the pictures on the menu had a sort-of greenish hue to them." He said when he was a kid, he thought all the food they served there was green, just like in the picture, and that's why he had never wanted to eat there! We all laughed at that and thought it was such a funny thing. But, really, that's how it is with kids. Things that are obvious to us, are not always so obvious to them. We take things for granted that they are just discovering and learning about. When you stop to think of things from their perspective--how they must see the world--it's just so neat to see how they think and what things impress upon them.
Talking to Rainee reminds me of what it's like to be a teenager. I remember how I had so many developing ideas and interests! I love seeing that development in Rainee and I'm thankful for the passion she has for different things. It brings so much life and light into our world!