Teen years fraught with frustration and fright, filled with fun and felicity
Of all of the things in the world to be,
The hardest of all, it seems to me,
Is not young nor old, but in between;
That wonderful, horrible age of …. Fourteen!
This week's column will feature two 14-year-olds from Cordes Lakes. I consider myself a pretty fair judge of teenagers. Between our seven and our foster children, I reckon about 63 "teenage years" were lived under our roof! Oh, they were not all wonderful "Leave It To Beaver" years. They were fraught with frustration and fright as well as filled with fun and felicity. But we all survived them. And we are all still (relatively) sane. Since retirement to Cordes Lakes, it has been our joy to encounter some very special young people, and we thank the friends and neighbors who share them with us.
First there is young Robert, of whom I have written previously. It is a delight to spend time around a young man who has the same work ethic we instilled in our own children. If you want or need something that isn't in the family budget – earn the money to but it yourself. That way, you will be doubly pleased when you get it, and it will be truly YOURS.
Robert will willingly tackle any task we assign him, and works just as hard and steadily when he is not being "observed" as when he is. He runs a mean hoe and rake, and has cleaned out our rain gutters (just in case it ever rains again!) This was no small task, as we live beneath many trees, including lots of pines. He helps Bobby with tractor repair, because his hands will readily reach where Bobby's cannot. When we didn't have the exact change to pay him, he returned just as quickly to work off his overpayment as if he were earning new money. At break time we discuss the pros and cons of country living, the importance of not believing or passing on negative things unless they happen to you personally, and other such worldly topics. Robert is well-grounded in reality, while never losing the spark in his eye. So he's my boy teen-star of the week.
Virginia Porter has accorded me the honor of sharing with my readers the winning essays from the Fathers' Day contest. I lead off this week with the winner from the Teens Division, written by Meagan Hike, age 14, titled "My Grandpa."
"My grandpa was the greatest man I've ever known. His name was Julius Nieland, Jr. He was an American hero. He served our country and returned from Viet Nam. He had a huge heart. He loved everyone and everything.
"I loved to go fishing with my grandpa. We always had fun while camping at Swan Lake every year. Every year around Thanksgiving, my grandpa, all of my uncles, and my dad would go deer hunting. (They also went pheasant hunting.)
"My grandpa was very strong. He could lift or fix just about anything. He always fixed things or helped other people.
"My grandpa always came to my band and vocal concerts. His name was the first word I said. Grandpa always laughed. He was always happy. He could make anyone feel better.
"My grandpa was the toughest person I've ever met. He fought his hardest battle in 2001; he fought cancer. He never gave up.
"He was taken from us on June 11, 2001. He was a fighter, a joker, a fisherman, a bread man, a milk man, a husband, a dad, and my grandpa."
Thank you, Meagan. Mr. Nieland sounds like he would have been a nice person to know. And so do you!