12 Awesome Things About Having a 12 Year Old

“Just wait until she’s a teenager.” I get that line at least once a week, always from well-intentioned folks.


I haven’t used this comeback line as much as I want, but I’m starting to say, “I can’t wait.”

Our oldest turned 12 today, one year from the “dreaded” teenage years. Bring them on.

As we’ve knocked harder and harder on the teenage door, has there been more sass, more attitude, more challenges? Sure.

But has there also been more depth, more conversation, more meaning? No doubt about it.


I’m sure this could use a good edit, but with a tight writing window, here are 12 quick things I love about having a 12 year old.

  1. It Gets Better. Regardless of the season of parenting, there are plenty of people that dread the season you’re entering. Diapers, car seats, high chairs, school starting, whatever. Maybe we’re crazy, but there’s no question that each season has gotten progressively better, not worse. Harder perhaps but definitely better.
  2. Aiming at the Heart. Lots of times we’re tempted to aim at better behavior, but the heart is the real aim. We’re after character changing type stuff, not simply cleaning up the outside.
  3. Texts from Her are the Best. I’m a full blown emoji user now. Whether it’s a text for work, friends or home, the texts are lit up with the little symbols I once despised. Every text I get from Kamden is gold in my book.
  4. Her Friends are Awesome. Our house is at its best when our kids have friends or cousins over. 12 year old girls are awesome, awkward and amazing.
  5. It’s So Fun to Embarrass Her. The official book of being a dad has this as chapter one I think. It’s good for her.
  6. Seeing Her Hurt. Sounds evil I know, but let me explain. When she was little we were worried about her falling down, hitting her head or running into the street when we approached an intersection. Those hurts are gone for her for the most part, but now we’re starting to see her deal with real pain. Hurt feelings from friends, fear of being left out, uncertainty about the future. Of course it’s not fun when she hurts, but it’s good. Pain produces perseverance and points to hope.
  7. Seeing Her Be Tenacious. By nature, she is shy and reserved. But sports in particular have given her the outlet to be fierce. She’s always the smallest girl on the court, but she’s a fighter.
  8. When Mom Crushes Bedtime. I told Brooke a few nights ago that she needs to write a book about how to break into your child’s heart at bedtime. She has a gift. Many nights, all I do is sit and listen. And watch her work her magic. We run so dang hard all day long, all of us do. Then at bedtime, the guards come down, the walls start to fall and the emotions start to flow.
  9. Getting Her By Myself. It doesn’t happen often enough with the chaos of our full house, but it’s a blast when we get to be together alone. Like we did this morning for breakfast.
  10. She’s Not Independent Yet. She’s closer every day, but the beauty of this age is that she’s testing us and pushing us into new territory, but when that push becomes shove, she realizes she’s still our little girl.
  11. Piggy-Back Rides. A couple times a week, she asks me to carry her upstairs to bed. My old knees and the 20 stairs we have to climb are great excuses to pass. But there’s not a chance in the world I say no.
  12. The Clock Keeps Ticking. 12 down, 6 left. 2/3 of the way through the time she’ll live under our roof. It’s tough to see that in black and white, but it doesn’t change its truth. Urgency can sometimes lead to panic, but that isn’t the case here. The urgency that springs up when the depth of this truth sets in is one that brings a realization that now is the best time to live, not simply exist. Because the clock keeps ticking whether we want to hear it or not.

Just wait until she’s a teenager. I can’t wait.

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