Dear K, 16 Years Old

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Dear K,

How can it be that I just watched you drive away in our Honda Pilot? Blonde curls cascading around your shoulders, you smile and give a wave through the front window.

At sixteen, you are an elegant, accomplished young woman. This year, you are taking piano and oil painting lessons, helping with the children's choir at church, taking a robust schedule of honors courses, serving as a senator in youth & government, and playing setter on your school's volleyball team. You balance all these things while wearing preppy clothes and helping around the house without asking. In fact, you've made dinner for our family every day this week. On the menu? Smoked salmon crepes, glazed citrus pork, chicken gyros, roasted butternut squash, and other such fancy dishes. Somehow you taught yourself to cook -putting in a little bit of this and a little bit of that, seasoning, chopping, and mincing like a pro.

If you had been born in the time of Jane Austen's novels, I have no doubt that the town would have described you as well-bred and delightful.

In many ways, you were meant for another time in history. You cringe at crocs, crop tops, and nose rings. If you could do so without making a scene, you would wear collared shirts, tailored skirts, and dress shoes every single day. Except when you are playing sports, that is.

You are an athlete - setting, serving, and passing with agility and spirit on the volleyball court. This summer, when friends were jumping off cliffs into a lake, you plummeted off the peak alongside them. If you put your mind to something, you do it.

That being said, you are probably most at home in a classroom, a museum, a theatre, an art studio, or a cityscape - preferably with magnificent and old-world architecture at every turn.

"Why did I have to grow up in a time with cell phones?" you recently asked wistfully, rhetorically. "I would have preferred to just be paged, when needed." You text reluctantly and always with proper grammar, adding in emojis under duress.

Another time you asked me, "What do you picture me doing in 20 years?" Here is your answer. Truth be told, I could see you doing many things. You have interest in med school and I could see you going that route - white coat, microscopes, holding a clipboard, having MD behind her signature. Even more, though, I see you as an adoring mother with a well-decorated, light-filled, joy-filled home. I see you with a professional side too, but I'm not sure quite what that will be - authoring children's books, speaking at conferences, drafting blueprints, running your own business, painting portraits? I still can't imagine you without an easel and a studio. My best guess is that you will do something where you create, communicate, and lead - that trifecta is wherein your gifting lies.

When we visited colleges this past summer, you knew exactly what you were looking for...and it certainly wasn't the status quo! You want a college experience where serious joy is evident around campus. You want a place where students act and dress like adults (well-dressed adults) - speaking winsomely, engaging in thoughtful debates, writing math equations on chalkboards, conducting research in state-of-the-art labs, and studying for exams in well-equipped libraries. As for extracurriculars, you cross off any school with an emphasis on rowdy fun (Mud races? Fog-filled concerts? Dorm competitions? Football games with stands of screaming fans? - you'd rather not). You would much prefer a school with honors symposiums, academic lectures, symphony performances, civilized picnics on the lawn, and fall balls. So, college in the 1940s. :)

As an 11th grader, the world is your oyster and you are getting ready to step out into the great, wide somewhere. I'm not ready for it quite yet. My heart already preemptively misses you. That being said, I am immensely proud of you for pursuing excellence in everything and for seeking God first. Wherever you go, whatever you do, I know you will be a sparkling light in the darkness.

With much love and affection,

Mom

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