Dr. Wes: Today I will perform a ceremony. In a digital age, it is a ritual of click-drop-and-drag. I will click on the computer folder entitled “Miranda Davis” and drag it into the folder titled “Double Take Archives” where it will reside next to the other seven teen coauthors, safe, sound and easily accessed. Her work will be gone from our weekly lives, but always available. It occurs to me that this is a metaphor of parenting today. We send our teens into an archive called “Young Adult,” but we do not delete them from our lives. We drag and drop them where they belong, no longer children but not yet adults. That’s a different folder. One they have to drag-and-drop for themselves in a few years.
It’s a sort of an amusing title “teen coauthors,” since Jenny Kane is pushing twenty-six. Marissa Ballard Hemenway is married with a lovely child. John Murray is in Australia, exploring life and presumably making new “mates.” Julia is about to graduate. The rest are at various stages of their college matriculation, as Miranda will be in another week. But for readers of Double Take, they are captured in perpetuity as teenagers, archived as young people who shared their thoughts, opinions and at times even their personal lives with us.
I was reminded of this in compiling our books, Dear Dr. Wes: Real Life Advice for Teens and Real Life Advice for Parents of Teens; learning what’s happened to each coauthor; seeing how far they’ve come; feeling like we’ve contributed a little bit to their lives; knowing how much they’ve contributed to ours. I liked that feeling a lot. And when I wasn’t feeling so great with editorial decisions and deadlines and meticulous copyediting, Miranda was a constant source of calm and support. It helped that she worked at Dillon’s and I am fond of their bistro. We saw a lot of each other in those months. We’re not losing her from our community. Miranda’s a freshman at the University of Kansas this fall, but we’ll miss her contribution here, even as we welcome fellow Free Stater Katie Guyot next week.
Many families are saying goodbye to their own freshly minted young adults, leaving for college, trade school, or the workforce. Regardless of how easy or tumultuous their brush with adolescence has been, parents always feel an undercurrent of grief accompanying the loss of a child to adulthood. In those moments it’s worth remembering that as parents, this is our ultimate purpose—to serve our children for a fraction of their lives, to prepare them as best we can for the rest, and to step back gracefully and give them the freedom to return to us later, as healthy adults.
Miranda: It was a Friday night near the end of my junior year. I’d spent the past couple of days planning my best friend’s birthday party. After all our friends showed up, I remembered something: the deadline of my Double Take contest essay. Fear flooded my entire body as I checked the time. I had my pieces done, I just needed to polish the essay and send it off. So, I ran like crazy to my car and headed home to send in the materials a few minutes past the 9:00 p.m. deadline. Dr. Wes still gave me that interview.
It was a close call to start my adventure with Double Take. And now my time is up. Katie will take over next week, and I know she’ll be one of the best this column has ever seen. Not only is she a personal friend, but she also takes over my spot as co-editor of the Free State High newspaper. She has incredible talent and she will surely shine.
If there is one lesson I’ve learned from Double Take it is this: pursue your dreams. Give them everything you have. Jump in your car at the last minute to get that submission in, even if you don’t think you’ll make the deadline, and obstacles are in your way. Life truly begins when you give yourself a chance and believe in your ability. If you don’t, no one else will.
As I close out my year, I want to thank Sam Schwartz, the column’s sixth coauthor, who served when I was a sophomore. I thought she was the smartest teenager in the world. Her articles were so inspiring that I wanted to be her; and if I could be half as good as the examples she set, I would feel accomplished. Thanks also to the Journal World for giving teen voices this kind of platform year after year, and to our readers for caring about this project and keeping it alive.
I must thank Dr. Wes. He has a family, a life, a practice, and yet still manages to create and maintain a unique and wonderful column that I am blessed to be a part of. And as always, I thank my family. You’ve loved me so much and been there through it all, especially my mom who listened to all those columns I read to you, week after week.
I can only hope this is not the end of my byline, but just the beginning.
Wes Crenshaw, PhD owns Family Psychological Services, LLC. He is board certified in family and couples psychology (ABPP) and author of the books Dear Dr. Wes: Real Life Advice for Teens and Dear Dr. Wes: Real Life Advice for Parents of Teens. Learn about his writing and practice at www.dr-wes.com. Miranda Davis is a recent graduate of Free State High School who has co-authored the column since August 2011, and is the eighth in a series of teen co-authors. Send your confidential 200-word question on adolescence and parenting to firstname.lastname@example.org. The column is reprinted from Double Take, published weekly since 2004 in The Lawrence Journal World. Opinions and advice are not a substitute for psychological services.
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