When telling my daughter goodnight a few days ago, I saw a piece of paper sticking out of my tween’s nightstand, full of her writing. I was intrigued and started to look, then looked away, thinking it was like a diary and not wanting to violate her privacy
A few days later it was still peeking out of the drawer and continuing to pique my curiosity. So I asked her what it was.
“That’s my bucket list,” she answered matter of factly.
I had no idea that she had a bucket list. I asked her what was on it, and she took it out and handed it to me. “You can read it.”
So yeah, nothing so secretive there after all, I thought, feeling a little silly. It seemed like a much less significant document than I had anticipated.
But I was wrong. Reading my daughter’s bucket list was like looking through a new window at my ever-changing tween. I learned a few brand new things about her and came to view some of her goals differently.
Some of the items on her list were expected, like attending a One Direction concert and being named Student of the Week at school.
Others, though, caught me off guard. The second item on the list, for example, was “own a chicken.” I had no clue my daughter was interested in fowl, let alone that she’d like them to take up residence in our backyard.
Farther down the list was something about going to the pawn shop on “Pawn Stars.” I now know what television show she watches at her father’s house.
I knew that she was looking forward to taking French next fall, but I didn’t know she had the goal to “be able to speak 3 or 4 languages.”
Some of the items on her list match those on my own, including getting better handwriting, but other entries were so uniquely her. I confess that my Bucket List is a bit more selfish than hers is.
Her generosity struck me, as several items on her list involved doing for others, like donating to Locks of Love six times because that’s how many donations are required to make one wig. So far, she’s donated three times.
Reading my child’s bucket list was a deeply touching experience I didn’t expect. Even better, she was happy to talk about them. Excited, in fact. And parents of tweens know that such a moment is one to be valued, even treasured.
I loved that my child made this list of her volition, with no outside influence of which I’m aware. My girl can sometimes (and only sometimes) be a people pleaser, and the way she talked about her list, it was clear that it came from her and her alone.
Try it out at your house.
Ask your tween if he/she has a bucket list, or if they’d like to write one with you. Compare your lists and see if anything matches up. Ask them about what is on their list and why. See if there are any items that you can help them cross off their list. In addition to being a look inside the amazing tween or teen brain, it can be a wonderful exercise in goal setting.
It also reminded me of the fact that I am both blessed beyond measure with a healthy child who will hopefully have a long lifetime ahead to realize her dreams. I simultaneously thought about the fact that tomorrow is not a given.
I was struck that my child felt like she needed to make a bucket list. I don’t think she was contemplating her own mortality. Rather, it was as if for an amazing moment she realized she could do anything she wanted with her amazing life, and she started the task of making the most of it.
I am a ridiculously lucky mom in that respect. I am not, however, going to buy her chickens.
Although she’d like to be taller and have more time to dive into good books, Shannan is awfully happy with her life in the western suburbs, where she moved after a decade of living on the north side of the city. She blogs about parenting a tween at Tween Us on ChicagoNow and at Families in the Loop.
See more of Shannan 's stories here.
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