I have been in a few places recently where parents of teenagers have warned about the sassiness that comes at 15, and the awkwardness and insecurity, and the overall general feeling of disgust and embarrassment they have in the presence of their parents at this age. People have said that this is the age where your kids think they know everything and you know nothing. Groups of parents have commiserated with each other and longed for those baby and toddler years when their kids were so much more snuggly and wanted only to be close to their moms.
Well, I have to tell you, that has not been my experience with my teenagers. They are definitely NOT perfect...nor am I. But I have found that as they dive deeper into their teenage years, I like them more and more. I love the way they think, and the conversations they want to have. I love their sense of humor and natural wit that seems to blossom during this age. I love that at 15 they start to really identify and embrace their talents and strengths. There is no way I would trade my 15 year olds to have those toddler years back...ever. I'm so much better at raising teenagers than I ever was at raising toddlers.
This cute girl is our third 15 year old, and although completely different than her two older sisters, she is equally delightful and such a joy to have around. This year has been a good one for Emma. With Savannah away at BYU, it's been so amazing to watch Emma come out of her shell and take up a little of the void that has been left in our family without Savannah's presence around. She is such a natural leader, and now has an opportunity to do some leading. She's funny. She has a blazing, but very private testimony. She makes great decisions. She is focused and determined, and fearlessly walks toward the goals she sets for herself. She is driven and confident. She takes boxing classes and is on the law enforcement track at school, destined to become a police officer, or an FBI agent...or something really cool and powerful like that. She sings ALL the time, everywhere. And she's getting SO good. I love to hear that deep, rich voice coming from behind her closed bedroom door every night. She wakes up early and gets to things ON TIME. This year, she has traded out most of her girly friends for some really awesome boy friends...not BOYFRIENDS, just boys who are her friends...and the few girl friends she's kept are the ones who are even tempered and fun and adventurous like she is.
She got straight A's this year in 9th grade (well, there may have been one B in there last semester) and earned an iPhone. There's a story there, and if other parties involved wouldn't be horribly mortified by it, I would tell it. Let's just say, it's a little early in the typical Thunell game plan for a smartphone, but Emma definitely earned this privilege and we're confident she can handle it.
But even with all the growing and changing and emerging she's done this year, Emma still asked for the same pasta dish for her birthday dinner that she's requested since she was 8, and the same ice cream cake she's loved since we moved here. Because even though these 15 year olds grow up and look different and mature and change, inside there's still a lot of snuggly toddler in there.