I Spent A Day In My Teen’s Shoes And This Is What I Learned
These aren’t my purple boots.
The Uggs were a present for my then 13-year-old daughter. She asked for them for her birthday, but I didn’t want to spend the money. Her grandmother was excited to get her something she truly wanted, so she jumped at the chance to buy them. She picked out my daughter’s favorite shade of purple and shipped them to her to open on her big day.
My daughter wore these shoes all the time for six weeks. And then, seemingly overnight, her feet grew two sizes, and her newly sized ten feet no longer fit into her favorite comfy shoes.
When winter rolled around this year, I couldn’t bear to give them away with the rest of her outgrown cold-weather gear. She loved these shoes so much, and I just hated to part with them. Instead, I put them on, and they fit my feet just right.
At first I just wore the boots for a quick trip to the grocery store and to take the dog for a walk around the block. But then, they became my go-to shoes for carpooling and appointments and quick trips to school.
Sometimes I got looks from other people my age, probably wondering what a mid-40s woman was doing walking around in purple boots, but I didn’t care. They always added a pop of color and made me feel young—and they reminded me of the sweetness of my girl instead of the surly teenager she was becoming.
And even though purple has never been my favorite color, I started feeling closer to my daughter every time I wore them.
I almost felt like I understood her a little better by walking in her shoes.
I noticed that even though she grew four inches the past year, she still looked so small under the mass of her stuffed backpack. I imagined the weight she must feel about her tough academic load and the stress of the books inside containing geometry equations and Spanish vocabulary and novels that I read when I was much older.
I looked at the computer and phone and game system and iPad sitting around her–and recognized how hard it must be to stay focused and on task with all these technology distractions at her fingertips.
I saw her soccer cleats and running shoes and gym uniform, and instead of getting mad because they were scattered all over her room, I became amazed at her love for sports and how hard she works. She goes to early morning practices and late-night games and never complains.
And I look down at these boots and think it must be tough to get something you love only to have it not fit one day when you go to put them on. How awkward must it be to try to adjust to a new body that seemingly changed overnight?
The start of the teen years in our house has been rough, and I think sometimes I get so annoyed by her behavior that I lose a little bit of my compassion, too. It’s hard to ignore the messy rooms and the snarky comments and the emotional roller coaster we all have to ride with her some days.
But these boots are a great reminder that while there are so many changes I have to deal with as a parent to a teenager–that actually being a teenager can be pretty tough, too.
It was good for me to walk a mile in her shoes.
It may be good for you too.
Are you in the thick of raising your tweens and teens? You may like this book by Whitney Fleming, the co-owner of Parenting Teens & Tweens: Loving Hard When They’re Hard to Love: Essays about Raising Teens in Today’s Complex, Chaotic World.
Raising Teens Isn’t Easy, Need A Little More Encouragement?
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