A Lesson on Listening to My Teens

my girls

My three teen daughters, ready for our fun at 12am on Black Friday.

I bought my 16yo daughter the new Taylor Swift CD for Christmas.  My daughter knows I enjoy Swift’s music, too, so it wasn’t a big surprise when she asked me a few days after Christmas:  “Have you listened to my new CD, mom?”  I told her I hadn’t, and then brushed the question from my mind.

The next day:  “Have you listened to my new CD yet?”  No, I answered, still distracted and not giving her question much thought.

When she asked again a few nights later, I actually joked about it, “Geesh, Hannah, lay off already!”  “Well, there’s a song on it that I think will make you cry.”  “Make me cry?” I joked.  “Well,” she answered quietly, “it made me cry.”

As is often too true of me, I was distracted by a hundred other things and never did bother to listen to the CD.  Until one night, when my daughter insisted.

She actually sat me down next to her, got the music, and told me she wanted me to hear this.  And that she would be listening with me.  The song is called “Never Grow Up,” a gentle ballad sung softly with a guitar.

Here are the lyrics:

Your little hand’s wrapped around my finger
And it’s so quiet in the world tonight
Your little eyelids flutter cause you’re dreaming
So I tuck you in, turn on your favorite night light
To you everything’s funny
You got nothing to regret
I’d give all I have, honey
If you could stay like that

Chorus
Oh darling, don’t you ever grow up
Don’t you ever grow up
Just stay this little
Oh darling, don’t you ever grow up
Don’t you ever grow up
It could stay this simple
I won’t let nobody hurt you
Won’t let no one break your heart
And no one will desert you
Just try to never grow up
Never grow up

You’re in the car on the way to the movies
And you’re mortified your mom’s dropping you off
At 14, there’s just so much you can’t do
And you can’t wait to move out someday and call your own shots
But don’t make her drop you off around the block
Remember that she’s getting older too
And don’t lose the way that you dance around in your pj’s getting ready for school

Chorus

Oh darling, don’t you ever grow up
Don’t you ever grow up
Just stay this little
Oh darling, don’t you ever grow up
Don’t you ever grow up
It could stay this simple
No one’s ever burned you
Nothing’s ever left you scarred
And even though you want to
Please try to never grow up

Take pictures in your mind of your childhood room
Memorize what it sounded like when your dad gets home
Remember the footsteps, remember the words said
And all your little brother’s favorite songs
I just realized everything I have is someday gonna be gone

So here I am in my new apartment
In a big city, they just dropped me off
It’s so much colder than I thought it would be
So I tuck myself in and turn my night light on

Wish I’d never grown up
I wish I’d never grown up

Oh I don’t wanna grow up
Wish I’d never grown up
I could still be little
Oh, I don’t wanna grow up
Wish I’d never grown up
It could still be simple
Oh darling, don’t you ever grow up
Don’t you ever grow up
Just stay this little
Oh darling, don’t you ever grow up
Don’t you ever grow up
It could stay this simple
Won’t let nobody hurt you
Won’t let no one break your heart
And even though you want to
Please try to never grow up
Oh
Don’t you ever grow up
Oh
Never grow up
Just never grow up

My daughter was absolutely right – I cried.  And she cried.  And we hugged.  In those few minutes, I believe my daughter was trying to tell me all about her fears, her love for us, and her deepest feelings about this stage in her life.

Sometimes our teenagers don’t tell us everything with their own words.  Sometimes they try to show us how they feel by moving closer to us on the couch or by stopping by to say Hey at our bedroom door.  Sometimes it’s asking to sit next to us in the front seat or lingering with us at the table after dinner.

I don’t think it’s easy for a teenager to verbalize all they hope for and fear about growing and changing and contemplating all the unknowns about life beyond home.  But don’t EVER take for granted that they aren’t thinking those things.  Listen to the other ways they are trying to communicate with you, even if it’s through another person’s beautiful song.