My two oldest daughters, Annalee (13) and Marlie (12) left Friday to go to the Adirondacks for a long weekend retreat with their youth group. Being 12 and 13 isn't easy. In a world where junior high girls are told that "real women have curves" and they must also have a "thigh gap" it is no wonder that girls in junior high can feel unstable! Society is a fickle turd, and the pressure that our kids face every day is overwhelming. They are supposed to fit in, but also be completely unique... go against the flow, but in a way that's charming and adorable, without being weird or acting like you care. Definitely don't act like you care! But, I mean... care enough to take a perfect selfie or else you're a total piece of garbage, but make sure the selfie looks like you didn't try. It'll take at least an hour to get a good, effortless selfie. You can have fat, but it has to be miraculously located in the right places so that you are curvy. If you have fat in the wrong place, starve yourself. Unless that makes your boobs small. It's better to be a little fat than to lose your boobs altogether. It's best to look like you have no makeup on, so get really good at makeup because it will take at least an hour of applying makeup to look like you aren't wearing any makeup. Also, your eyebrows should be somehow square at the edges. By the time you get good at giving yourself square eyebrows, that will be the dumbest thing you could possibly do and you will have to learn to make your eyebrows a hexagon or something. And eyebrows shouldn't ever under any circumstances look like they are made of actual hair, they should look like they were airbrushed on using a Kardashian eyebrow-shaped stencil. Also, just say no to pale skin, orrrr dark skin. You have to be mocha - regardless of your genetics, this is a non-negotiable. Also, play soccer from the time you are a fetus or you will not have a chance in the 7th grade. By then, players are practically in retirement. So 1) be born, and 2) start a sport immediately or you're a loser.
That's a small taste of the pressure and unrealistic expectations that our kids face every day... and that's just the girls! There are academic pressures, social pressures, familial expectations, societal and cultural messages... it's an intense and scary world out there. Like Mr. Rogers, our kids need to look for the helpers. Days 9 & 10 were all about thanking the people who are there to help kids in junior high as they navigate life.
We brought Panera gift cards to the six youth leaders who spent the most time with my girls this weekend on the retreat.
I also bought some flowers and candy for a friend who took the time to step away with one of my girls when she was feeling down. It's not easy to send my precious newborn babies away for a whole weekend, but it helps knowing that they have good friends to listen, love and encourage them when they need it most.
Bonus Update: We have located Frank - the hero of Tom's childhood misfortunes as told in THIS VIDEO! Tom has been working around the clock at his regular job, and on a house we need to repair and sell as quickly as possible so we have not met with him yet but we look forward to connecting with Frank and will keep you all posted!