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So today it happened. You became a teenager.

We've kidded you a lot about that. How all at once everything would change. How teenagers become so intolerant - and intolerable. How we hoped you'd still speak to us. How we hoped boys wouldn't become the only thing in you life. And on and on.You knew it was all kidding, of course, and you put up with it patiently and with good humor. Patience and good humor have always been two of the lovable things about you.

Now let me tell you what I really think about your being a teenager.

First, how can it have happened so fast? It can't be 13 years since your beautiful mother and proud father were showing off their firstborn and your grandparents were telling everyone who would listen about the most perfect granchild ever born.

We've loved those 13 years. Watching you develop through every phase of your babyhood and childhood has been pure joy.

We have loved your sensitivity and creativity that filled our souls and refrigerator doors with the beauty of, in turn, rainbows and hearts and stars and, now, flowers. We have marveled at how with each phase of your life you, yourself, have become more beautiful, inside and out.

We have no reason to doubt this process will continue, only in new and wondrous ways, as you cross the bridge from childhood to young womanhood.

But may a grandfather, with no other justification than that he loves you, offer some advice?

Don't cross the bridge too fast. Don't be impatient. To everything there's a season. Usually, the longer we delay a new experience, the more we appreciate and enjoy it. Wait for the right time. And when you have crossed the bridge, don't forget what was on the other side.

One endearing thing about your mother is that she has never lost the childhood qualities of loving fun, being teachable, losing herself in the wonder and excitement of new knowledge and new experience. You are in a remarkable and special way your mother's daughter; be like her in that.

With young womanhood come woundrous new urges. God put them there to help you form and preserve a loving, joyous, lasting relationship with the right man at the right time, and because He wants you as His partner in creating new life. Used in the way He intends, those urges can bring your greatest joy and fulfilment. Misused, they can bring tragedy.

There will be times, lots of them, when you will feel your parents are unfair or uncaring, that they don't understand, that they aren't with it or "cool." There will be times when they say no despite your pleas that the parents of every other teenager are saying yes. These conflicts can't, apparently, be avoided.

They are part of the territory as teenagers go about their important and proper task of asserting independence and learning to make their own decisions and parents go about theirs of nurturing and guiding and protecting.

At such times, can you remember just two things? First, that your parents have been over this road before. They know the blind curves. The road may change; the dangers don't. Second, you parents act the way they do because they love you - enough to risk your not, temporarily, liking them.

One more thing. Wherever you are, remember who you are - whose child, part of whose eternal family.

That's all the advice. You are smart enough and good enough and well enough taught that you need no more. When the tests come you will pass with honors because you will already have made the right decisions.

Have a great life. Your grandmother and I love you more than you can possibly know until you have grandchildren of your own.