"You know what, mom? I don't have a life."
I questioned my daughter as to what exactly she meant by that. "I don't have friends. I don't have goals. I don't have a life," she said very casually, almost flippantly. I stifled for a moment the mother-angst that immediately flared up (I'm a terrible mom!! I've ruined my child!!) and paused to consider the setting we'd just left and what might have triggered this remark.
We were watching the East High varsity football game -- or, more accurately, watching people at the game. Scads of groups of kids -- from two to five in number, from 7 to 18 in age -- "hanging out", wandering around, talking and arguing and laughing and yelling and all the stuff kids do at ball games. I was remembering ball games I went to when I was in school . . . the friends I hung out with there . . . the conversations that happened.
No friends? Both my girls keep talking about how they have plenty of acquaintances at school, but no real friends yet. But I wonder if they realize how few of the relationships they see on display have the intimacy and commitment to qualify as "real friendships" as they've come to know them. Lots of people to hang out with. Usually only a very small handful of real, true friends.
No goals? What kind of goals do 13-year-olds have? Or what goals should they have? My daughter wants to do well in school. To make and enjoy friends. To figure out what God's plan is for her life. To babysit as often as she can. To improve in all of her artistic abilities and interests. To use her time and her money and her abilities to help other people. Do all 13-year-olds have goals like that? I honestly don't know.
A thought flickered across my mind from our small group's study this week in the book The Purpose-Driven Life. We're not made for this world -- it shouldn't surprise us that we aren't completely fulfilled and satisfied with our life here, because this life is just a preparation for the next one. I considered bringing this idea up but decided against it. This didn't seem to be a moment for theological instruction. It was a moment for encouragement.
"You have a life. It's just not the kind of life that the other kids you see at school have. And frankly, I have no problem with that at all."
I'm not convinced that the life of the typical American teenager is one to be coveted. I'm anxious for her to come to that realization as well.