In three days Stephanie will get her braces off. This is a big deal for this sixteen year old junior in my daughter’s class. When I met her, Stephanie tried hide her smile. I don’t get it because I never had braces. But my daughter did, and maybe that’s why they are friends. Before I drove them both to the hospital where they volunteer, I decided I get to know my passenger a little better.
What I discovered in my interrogation (as my daughter put it) is that both Stephanie and I are the youngest in our families. She, however, is the only girl. I would come to discover that Stephanie is her mother’s daughter. They look alike, and sound alike too. That is to say they “are both loud.” Plus they are very close too. Unlike her two older brothers, Stephanie’s mom expects more from her daughter. I got that. I probably expect more from my daughter as well. Her mom, like my daughter’s mom, gets involved in her school. She is proud that her daughter is in the second best Magnet School in the country.
Even though she tries to hide her smile, Stephanie is not shy. Or so she says so. She also said she can speak both Spanish and English fluently. On top of that, Stephanie is learning to play the drums, which means she is also learning how to read music, which “is like having an extra language.” I get that. “Before it all looked like squiggly lines, now I know what they are.” That observation made me smile. It also made me wonder if she found surprise and joy like that in all things. I should have asked. Instead I asked a different question. And her answer to that one was “I like action movies, and mysteries because it’s fun to find out the ending.” I didn’t have the heart to tell her that’s pretty much the joy of watching any movie.
Stephanie is sixteen. And on January 1 she will turn seventeen. While it’s still “better than having your birthday on Christmas. But still everyone comes over and says ‘Happy New Year!’ And then they remember and say ‘Oh, happy birthday. It’s like being second best.” I get that. She wants to be something more than that. As of today she wants to be a pediatrician when she grows up.
Oddly, Stephanie doesn’t like to think of the future because it scares her. “If I set my goals and not achieve them, I’d let myself down. I’m afraid of failure.” I get that all too well. I told Stephanie every great things was born from failure. As I explained my theory behind that, she listened. She got it.
I’m glad I took the time to get to know Stephanie. She’s a smart, perceptive, giggly, loud, teenage girl who the world is waiting to welcome her with open arms. Which is pretty cool because she wants the world to know that she like’s meeting new people.
Trust me when i say, I get that a lot better now.
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”