Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What We Learned from a 15 Year Old

My little cousin Andrew (aka Andy Pandy or Drew-Poo :)) stayed with us for a few days at the end of July/early August.  He just came off of a 2 week trip to Washington and New York where he was chosen to represent Canada in a youth leadership conference and his days were filled with learning about international politics and world banking.....he's also the captain of his volleyball team, a debate champ, reads The Economist on his free time and dresses like a fashion model.  Oh, did I mention he's 15 years old?!?!?  At 15, my main priority was to get home in time to watch The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Makoto's hottest outfit at age 15 was his red sweat pants and matching Spiderman shirt.

Makoto and I were completely entertained by him and realized that 15 is not what it used to be.  Here are a few things that we learned from him:

1.  Sex ed ain't what it used to be when we were in grade school - One night over sushi in Yorkville, Makoto and I found ourselves awkwardly in the middle of giving Andrew the dreaded "sex talk".  Actually, it was more like me spewing out random rhetoric while Makoto pretended to be really interested in the wasabi and Andrew was trying to hold in his laughter.  Makoto and I haven't received the sex talk from our parents to this day so we felt that Andrew's traditional Korean parents would probably also not be so forthcoming with this subject matter.  To our surprise, Andrew saved us from the awkwardness and we discussed in great detail how he has learned all about the birds and the bees, protection, pregnancy, etc since he was in elementary school.  He's lucky to have other older role models in his life that have also sat him down and given him "the talk".  He also knew about some things that horrified me but I am starting to accept that he is not my 2yo little baby cousin anymore.  Most importantly, he seemed very appreciative (ok....maybe not appreciative...but not annoyed) that we even attempted to enlighten him on this subject and I'm hoping that he knows that he can always come to us if he has any other questions.  We were on such a good vibe that we even through in the "drug talk" for good measure.  If you have a tween/teen in your life, make sure to let them know that you're there for them....even for the awkward conversations!

2.  Our metabolisms are at a turtle pace compared to his - After eating double what Makoto could eat, Andrew would still be up for poutine 30min post meal.  It really is unfair how our metabolisms slow down with age.  But after spending a few days with him, I also realized how I forgot how much more active we were at 15 compared to 30.  Andrew and his friends constantly play all sorts of sports in their free time whether its getting together to work out, kicking around a ball or just walking everywhere since they don't have their driver's license.  I know that Makoto and I try to get to the gym 3 times a week but I also think we (as in all adults) should also incorporate more "play time"....Makoto and I are now trying to get outside for even 20-30minutes during lunch/break for a walk and some fresh air instead of just using this time to check emails or google every random thing we can think of.

3.  At some point, we forget to dream big as we "grow up" - Andrew dreams of becoming a lawyer as well as finishing his MBA so that he can combine both and become a super duper lawyer businessman....and a full time career in a professional sport is, of course, also in the grand plan.  I remember he told me this last Christmas and being the protective older cousin that I am and not wanting him to be forced into the Asian immigrant parent's dream of having their child either become a medical doctor or a lawyer, I started to go into a monologue of how he should explore all sorts of other interests and be true to dedicating his life to a career in something he actually wants to get up and do every morning.  Then I didn't want him to feel dissapointed if he didn't become a super duper lawyer businessman so then I started going on about how tough law school can be, the pros and cons of an MBA, how much work it is to be a busy lawyer, the politics within law firms and I just went on and on like a big Debbie Downer.  He stopped me mid sentence and said "Aileen....I'm 15.  If I don't dream big now, when will I ever dream big?".  Man did I ever feel like a "noob" (apparently this is the teenager's choice word to describe a dumb ass).  He's absolutely right....why can't he become an insanely powerful lawyer while playing for the NBA full time?  He's done nothing but show me what an amazing person he already is and I'm incredibly proud of him and should be nothing but supportive of any dream he has....especially at the tender age of 15!!  Whether he becomes a lawyer or changes his mind and joins the circus, I realized that he should be able to aim for the stars.  It's refreshing to be around such sincere optimism......I think it's making Makoto revive his hopes of becoming a UFC fighter.  And me......I may not ever become the professional ballerina that I was suppose to grow up to be but I've definitely set new higher limits for all the personal goals in my life.

In summary, safe sex is cool, don't forget play time and always dream big!

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