I blinked those tired, hurried, worried blinks of a mom and suddenly I’m here. A mom with a nearly-18-year-old and a 14 year old. Yes. CJ is 14.
He’s 14 and he’s a beautiful, totally original, complex, deep feeling soul who I’m lucky enough to raise. How did Matt and I get so lucky? How did we get lucky enough to have a child who is different? A child who has opened our hearts and minds. A child who has taught us so many life lessons.
He has his own evolving style. He brings out laughter in me with ease. He cares for the people around him with a fierceness that makes him the best kind of friend.
He’s studying crystals and the power of things to heal the spots in people that feel broken.
He has a passion for designing and organizing spaces and has morphed into the family member who makes our house a home. He likes to merchandise things and create spaces and moments.
He’s an online shopper with full carts and complete looks in mind. He’s color-coded his closet so he can pull items with ease.
He likes boba and got me hooked on it and I apologize for previously calling it booger juice.
He looks forward to our nightly round of the game Five Crowns and usually wins. How does he draw a wild card every time?
He’s cultivated a friend group that is the absolute best bunch of teens you’ll ever meet. They start their own small businesses, they support each other wholeheartedly, they have heart-to-heart conversations, they laugh and sing so loudly on FaceTime that I’m sure everyone on our street can hear. They dream. They put plans in motion. They go to CJ for fashion and decorating advice. His camera roll is filled with photos that make my heart smile the biggest smile.
He can still be found everyday practicing makeup looks or nail art. And, as I work from home and he pops in to check on me, I never know just what face he’ll serve me…but it’s always better than mine.
Of the many complimentary services he offers, outfit (and hair and makeup) checks are the most valued by every member of our household and beyond. He also performs vibe checks but those are so honest and accurate that I must advise you think twice for requesting one.
A very honest opinion giver, he’s always willing to help you fix whatever is found unfavorable.
All that to say, CJ is a happy teenager.
When I hear about how the pandemic has devastated the lives and mental health of kids CJ’s age, I‘m acutely aware of how fortunate we are. We had to go through some really unhappy times so that CJ could be this happy during a lockdown.
Minus the seven months he spent at his new art school prior to COVID, school has never been a particularly safe place for CJ. He was bullied for being gender nonconforming and a member if the LGBTQ community. Home was always his safest place. So, to be told to stay home to stop the spread of COVID was asking CJ to be in his safe place. The place where he is loved and supported no matter what. The place where he can be his most authentic self.
I started this blog 10 years ago, just before CJ’s Disney-princess-themed fourth birthday party. Back then — with us all struggling with his gender identity and gender expression — we couldn’t imagine what 14 would look like. We couldn’t imagine how unique, authentic, colorful, beautiful and full it could be. Back then, we didn’t know how lucky we were.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY CJ!!!