Like any good mother, I think my daughter is beautiful. Wait. Strike that. I know my daughter is beautiful. But like any woman who has survived the big hair of the '80s and the '90s scrunchie, I also know that one day even this effervescent creature before me will reach that phase of life known as "the awkward years." Or, as some people call it, your teens.
Just as her body is rebelling against her, she will be desperate to assert her dominance over clothes, accessories, and that famously fickle friend, her hair. I hate that this is part of growing up for kids, but thanks to a clever site called The Awkward Years Project, a little help is on the way.
Created by a woman named Merilee Allred who was the self-described "queen of the nerds" up until the eighth grade, the site has become a space for survivors of the trauma that is teenagehood to share photos of themselves now and then, along with stories of who they were and who they have become. Their tales are a solace to the soul of fellow sufferers of the female mullet (or, as my husband refers to a style from one of my particularly bad elementary school photos, "the fe-mullet") and wearers of glasses that may have actually been larger than one's hands.
But they're also a message for the kids out there who are actually in the zit-encrusted trenches: "Kid, you ain't seen nothing yet."
As she says on the site:
I want youth, especially those who are currently going through a rough time, to know that they are great people in the making. I want to show them that their lives are only just beginning, to see their potential, and to not let bullies get to them. It’s the differences that set us apart from everyone else and we should celebrate that.
Put that way, The Awkward Years Project and its photos are like an "It Gets Better" project for all teens -- regardless of their sexuality. And it might be the perfect answer for parents trying to help their ugly duckling see the swan beneath.
Is your kid going through an "awkward" phase? What's your best advice for talking to them when they get upset?
Image by Jeanne Sager