It Ain’t Easy Being Green

Thanks Kermit. I can empathize but I can never know what it is like to be green. I was struck this week by the turmoil it seems teenagers these days live in. Every generation complains about the next. My grandparents complained that my parents watched too much TV. My generation was on a computer screen too much (Uh Oh! In my best ICQ voice). This generation spends too much time on their smart phones. These are not my accusations, these are the stereotypes that have plagued said generations.

I live with three teenagers. Well some of the time I live with three teenagers. I do not call myself a step-mom, although sometimes it is the simplest way to describe my current situation. I live with and love these three children that have come into my life via Rol. I have watched them grow. I have watched them struggle. I have watched them be resilient.

Times change. And right now I do not believe for the better. I call what we live in a ‘Nanny state.’ Over-protective parents. Helicopter parents. People who are afraid. People who are overly sensitive, and overly sensitive to the wrong things and for the wrong reasons. People who make mistakes, and while they might apologize, are held to an impossible standard. Looking at the media portrayal of certain individuals these days it is no wonder teenagers are so confused.

As A Parent
I’m not a parent. I do not pretend to be a parent. But I was raised by two absolutely fabulous people I am so fortunate to call mom and dad. They taught us values; be kind, be honourable, and be resilient. Along the way with those values you are going to have to work really, really hard if you want to be successful. They let me make mistakes but they required me to solve the problem. While there was scaffolding and support my parents taught me to be strong, to love, and to empower those around me.
We had epic fights in my house. Why? Well if you know me I am a passionate and emotional person. I used to always let my emotions, and my temper, get the better of me. With two working physicians their stress and fatigue levels were high too, something I did not appreciate until I was much older.
If you have a teenager in the house, admit that you make mistakes too. Show them humility. Show them strength. Empower them. Help them through the crazy emotional time as their bodies go through so many changes. Most importantly, always let them know that you love them.

As a Step-Parent
I never went in to my relationship wanting to be a parent, to have my own kids or to want to parent these children. Rol’s three kids have a mom, a great mom in fact. A mom who lives close by, a mom who is involved, a mom who wants to be a mom. Her mom status, that is hers and not mine.
My recommendation to people who come into the lives of children that are not their own. Don’t pretend to be someone’s parent; you’re not. You can love them. You can cherish them. You can be there for them. These kids are already going through enough, don’t confuse them anymore.
And most importantly with teenagers, remember they are teenagers! They are filled with confusing emotions, changing hormone levels, stress from school, friends, enemies, passions, hobbies, and everything and anything in between. Don’t bend over backwards for them, but also just let them go through these changes, knowing they have another person cheering in their corner.

As a Coach
Develop the person, then develop the athlete. I was so fortunate to work with so many amazing coaches over the years, in alpine skiing, in running, at school, outside of school. All the great ones share a common trait, they helped develop me into the person I am today by working with me as a person first and an athlete second.
They gave me the space to work through my emotions. They did not let me get away with poor behaviour, in fact, they held me accountable for my actions; they taught me to be resilient in the face of adversity.
If you are coaching teenagers be prepared for the unexpected. Don’t expect perfection. In fact, I encourage you to encourage mistakes. Why? Because, this is the best time in these athlete’s lives to help them learn lessons they will carry forward into everything they endeavour.

As a Teenager
Oh my gosh as much as I want to stay young at heart I am so glad I am through the turmoil of changing hormones, catty ‘friends,’ and feeling so lost in the world. Wait, still have moments where I feel lost!
My advice is to stop being your own worst critic. Accept that you are human. Accept that you make mistakes. In fact, try to change your mindset about mistakes. Do not see them as failures (negative) see them as learning opportunities (positive). Figure out who you are in this world by trying on ‘different personalities’ (thanks Brene Brown). But never be afraid to be you. If, and when, your hormones and emotions get the better of you, be ok with that. Admit you made a mistake, say sorry, and move forward. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams and live the life you have imagined (~Henry David Thoreau).

Oh, hey, Nationals XC
I was thankful that I was not a teenager this weekend at #ACXC. My emotions wreaked havoc with my head and my heart; getting sick before a national championship is never fun. Don’t get me wrong, even at the ripe age of almost 36 my emotions totally got the better of me at times. However, surrounding myself with great coaches, friends, and family, they helped me work through my personal frustrations and self-anger with not being able to race.

Call me a loser;I think overall I’m still on the winning side of this game of life. Love what you do. Love who you are with. Celebrate the success. Learn from the failures. And always stay true to who you are.