Sweet 16 and never been kissed. How many years ago did this phrase come about? 20, 30, 40 perhaps even 50 years? How many years ago did it stop being true? 30 for sure. It was a saying when I turned 16 but it wasn't a truth. At 16 I had been kissed. My first kiss came at 12 or 13 when we played spin the bottle at a friends house. I thought it was gross and that I would get cooties for sure but I wasn't going to be left out of the fun that the bigger kids were having so I went along with it.
Two weeks ago my baby girl turned Sweet 16 and I feel blessed and honored to say she has never been kissed. I'm not bragging about it because I know all too often that had the opportunities presented themselves we would be having a different conversation; but she has led what a majority of the world would consider a sheltered life. I call it a protected one. She is not naive. She is not "sheltered" nor would be considered to "not have a clue" but she has been restricted/limited in her activities, in her friendships and her relationships with her peers. She learned about "the birds and the bees" at 12 years old from ME, not the school. After school made their pitch we talked about it again and we continue to have these conversations every 60 days or so much to her chagrin.
In fact, I still talk to my 23 year old son about safe sex, abstinence, responsibility and respect of the opposite sex because I feel it is my responsibility to continue to foster these characteristics and moral ideals in their life.
My daughter has grown up with the knowledge that she would not be allowed to date until she turned 16. That she would not be dropped off at the mall, the movies or a friend's house if I haven't met the parents. She has been allowed to go out in groups but I was shadowing her in the background and she knew it. I watched her interact with her friends and I watched her friends and how they acted towards her and themselves. I want and have prayed for her to have good friends, and to make good choices but I also understand that peer pressure is a heavy thing and that in any given situation the overwhelming feeling of rebellion or defeat can come over you and you give in to a moment that could carry consequences that could last you a lifetime. I wasn't a saint nor am I now but I wish I had had more guidance, more knowledge and a much more realistic relationship with my mother when I was growing up.
I never had the talk about "sex". Not even after my older sister got pregnant at 15. I never learned that boys would tell me anything they could to get what they wanted. I never knew that something could hurt so bad, feel so good and carry such grave consequences or that it was a tool that both men and women use to get what they want.
So when I had children I promised that I would try to do for them the things I wished I had done for me when I was growing up, including having "unrealistic, nerdy morals" taught to them that I felt would have made me and the choices I made in my life less hurtful than they were. I have no regrets because the hardships have made me into who I am today but I want more for them and in order for that to happen I have to give them a higher/firmer foundation than I had.
So now she is 16 and well, to be honest, nothing has really changed. She still isn't dating, she doesn't go out on her own, I don't and won't drop her off at the mall or movies and leave her there but it's because she doesn't want me to because she's not ready. That is truly a blessing to me. I feel that God has given me a little bit more time to continue to mold her into what He wants her to be. A little bit more time to help her find herself, love herself unconditionally and trust herself to stand up for what she believes is right for herself and not do what it is that the "status quo" is doing.
I will cherish these next few months and I will take the time, as I did this Saturday, to have that one on one time to have a quick 15-minute conversation about "being true to yourself" that I came across while reading Tony Dungy's book "Uncommon - Finding your path to significance." I will cherish the Sunday afternoon's she comes to my room, lays across the bed and talks to me about nonsense or watches me as I type out my blog entries and questions my thoughts, my feeling and why I am how I am. I will cherish that I am her mother, that she respects my authority even when she doesn't like it and that she doesn't think that her life is all that bad although it's not all that she would like for it to be. I will cherish the days like today when she all by herself chooses to walk to the front of the church and rededicate herself to God because she feels like it is what she wants to do and that she didn't feel the need to discuss it with me because she's growing up and coming into her own.
And every morning when I rise to have my quiet time with God I will praise Him and thank Him for her, these moments and the fact that He blessed me with her for this time in my life. I will continue to petition on her behalf for godly friends, for divine knowledge, inspiration, understanding and protection, as is my divine duty, and I will release her back to Him so that He can continue to mold and shape her into that very thing that He began when she was yet in my womb for she is "wonderfully and fearfully" made by His glorious hands.