Doing the Hokey Pokey: Life with a Teen
Have you ever had one of those moments where you wonder, is this really happening? You know, something so strange that you are sure at any minute, you are going to see the Cat in the Hat playing badminton with Hilary Clinton and you’ll realize that you are dreaming. I recently had one of those moments….
About a week ago, life around the Runkel household was pretty normal. Brandon was trying out for 5th grade band, Hannah was trying out for 8th grade cheerleader, Hal was trying to finish the book, and I was trying to not go insane. (Two out of four isn’t that bad, is it?)
Then we got an email from school.
Our campus was scheduled to host Rwandan president Paul Kagame and his dignitaries. Our school and their government are seeking to build a sister school for the children in Rwanda in an attempt to rebuild the educated class after the 1994 genocide. Hannah was selected as one of the handful of junior high students to serve as a host for this gathering. The students would open doors, greet his entourage with flowers, and provide any assistance if needed. Hannah’s favorite part of this? Getting to wear a dress and be out of uniform.
It wasn’t until she came home a couple of days later with specific instructions that we realized just how cool this was going to be. Hannah’s assignment for the big day was more up close and personal than we had originally thought. She and one 8th grade boy would personally greet the President, show him around the junior high campus, answer his questions, and join his party, the school’s board of directors, and other high profile Atlanta community members for a luncheon. Wha??????
My Hannah, (who at one point was too shy to pick up the phone when it rang) greeting a man who runs an entire country? My Hannah, (who didn’t want to bat in her softball game because “everyone is looking”) rubbing elbows in one day with more powerful people than I’ve even met in a lifetime? Ok, Hilary… come out, come out wherever you are…
Hannah was remarkably calm and poised about the whole deal. She did her nails and went to bed after spending some time researching Rwanda and talking to me about all of the conflicting things she was reading. I’d like to say that I was able to guide her with my sophisticated understanding of geopolitics, but in reality, we did what we could with google and then we watched Glee.
The big day went off without a hitch. The local news was there and she did a great job with all of her responsibilities. I was able to see some of the visit from afar. She looked so grown up. She and Jackson (her male counterpart) were so composed and confident amidst these giants as they answered questions and went on the tour. Hannah suddenly looked older to me, and more beautiful than I had ever seen. She was more like a young woman I was honored to know than a child I was working hard to raise. I found myself wondering if this was one of those landmark moments that would change her, mature her, propel her forward in life.
When she came home, I got my answer. She kicked off her heels with a groan exclaiming,
“UGH! How do grownups DO this all day?” And within exactly two minutes of arriving, she was out of her dress, into her baggy sweats, and under her snuggie on the couch. She flipped on The Disney Channel and said, “Momma? What’s for dinner? I’m starving!”
Life with a teen: One minute, your child is hobnobbing with diplomats and talking about politics and the next, she’s laughing hysterically at The Suite Life. Go figure. And sing it with me now, ‘You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out….”
I’m so blessed to be able to be along for this ride with her – I guess “that’s what it’s all about”.