After finally finishing the admissions process for kindergarten in NYC (interviews, tours, headmaster meetings, and tests for my city tykes), the thing that most struck my “Oh my God I am a parent of a legit human being” chord was the welcome letter to the class of 2029. Take a minute to process that: 2029! I can barely wrap my head around what next week might bring, let alone what life will be like when my baby is in high school.
What sprung up after those school meetings, was that the idea of parenting a teen kind of terrifies me. What kind of mom will I be to a teen? Will all the problems I had growing up be the same for future kids? What new form of bullying will exist when they reach that tough age? How can I connect with my kids without sounding like Austin Powers’s Dr. Evil to son Seth Green, or Amy Poehler’s scarily accurate “cool mom” from Mean Girls?
Since I can’t predict what it'll look like to be a teen in the year 2029, it only makes sense to look back at my favorite film from that phase of my own life for inspiration. So, I sought answers from the wisest women from my cinephile past: Romy and Michele. Ahead, a letter to my future teenage kids, dated for delivery in 2029.
Dear Henry and Sophie,
By the time you read this, I will be 48 years old. I hope I've managed to teach you this one lesson by now: Whatever words or actions you put out into the world, you cannot take back. Also, you have to treat others the way you want to be treated. Simple enough, right? Yeah R & M were onto something. Here are a few more guidelines from those brilliant visionaries who were way ahead of their — and your — time.
High School: It’s a microcosm of unreality — so, don’t stress out. Just enjoy the awkward ride that it is. It’s a time when your style, your music, and those who surround you define you in the eyes of others. But, none of that defines who you are inside. You are still percolating and brewing, my loves. You will evolve a thousand times over, and that’s what high school is really for.
On Cliques: If you don’t know what “group” you are in, you've already won the game of high school. Surround yourself with those who respect you. Deciding to have a small clique of friends who are all too similar will only limit you.
On Dream Jobs (And The Dream Life): You may not be leading your dream life with your dream job by your 10-year reunion. And, that's okay. You will most likely change your plan a few times. Just fake it ‘til you make it. Think of your career as a big puzzle where all the pieces may not be in order, but you'll eventually find a way to put them together that feels meaningful to you. Even if that happens later in life, it'll be great.
On Love: You will get your heart broken. Probably by a huge tool — or maybe by the love of your life — but, if you have a friend to dance with, you'll be golden. Snacks help, too (guilt does not).
On Yearbooks And Social Media: The yearbook means nothing. How many pictures you're in can't define your experience at school. Keep your memories and make your own captions. Don’t YOLO, FOMO, (or whatever acronyms the future-kids are using) your life away. You don't need to prove who you are, or if you're having fun, just to partake in the brag-o-sphere. Just be in the moment for yourself. Trust me, it's more fun that way.
On Differences: Never harp on someone's differences. Everyone has quirks; zits, a limp, being Canadian. Never exploit those sensitive spots for comedic relief. If you don't have something nice to say, go watch a movie or something.
On Style: Romy and Michele were prehistoric Man Repellers.
Dress for yourself. Experiment and define your own style, but never follow — unless it’s in the footsteps of Miuccia Prada, then you have my permission.
On Diet & Exercise: Mono is not a diet. But, trying new exercise trends is a great way to take care of yourself while keeping active and entertained. You may end up with my clumsy genes, but anyone can try a spin class, yoga, or whatever fitness trends come your way in 2029 (underwater laser spinning set to Burmese chants, maybe?)
At End Of The Day: The tech club could rule the world one day, so be kind to everyone, regardless of social hierarchy. There is someone out there who thinks you are the most incredible being on earth, be nice or you may never get the chance to find that out.
#1 RULE OF LIFE: Don’t peak in high school. You know the crew that still talks about school like it was the best time of their lives? Yeah, you don’t want to be in that group. School is the time when you are supposed to make mistakes, explore, figure out some meaningful things about yourself, and learn how to make semi-adult decisions.
Mom, a.k.a. “The Mary”
Photo: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures.