I don't really know what other parents are talking about when they complain that their teenagers never talk to them. The two I have had already are chatty as hell, most especially in the car after the school day is done. Mr15 spends the entire 30 minute car ride home filling my ears with many words about military history, musings on the practical applications of psychology and sociology, and all the reasons he should not have his internet cut off at 11PM on school nights. I listen, mainly, interject my thoughts as appropriate, and attempt to navigate the early rush hour traffic well enough to keep everyone alive for another day. So far, so good.

Today was a little different.

Mr15: I have thought about it, and I think I know what is my most important goal for my life.

Me: Really?? Well, that's a big thing. What is it?

Mr15: The thing that I have to do is to be able to keep an open mind. I want to be able to keep myself as free from bias as possible, and to judge everything that comes to me fairly. That's really, really important to me. I think that's the only way to be able to grow. I have to be honest with myself.

If I could've pulled the car over to hug him, I would have, because I was so very happy and grateful that he figured this out for himself at such a young age. Of course, he is correct -- to keep an open mind, to do the best you can to rid yourself of prejudice and preconceptions, to understand that understanding is how we connect with the world and feel a part of it, which makes us feel whole and alive, puts you well on the road to achieve the peace of mind we all want and to get the most out of each day. Is there anything more important, really, that you would wish for your child? To be able to feel that you have done right by others and yourself gives a strength and confidence that will help carry you over the many disappointments and sorrows that are part of life. To be open is to keep trying. When you keep trying, you become resilient. When you are resilient, you will just keep getting up, no matter what.

Most of us do the exact opposite thing. We are born open to the world and unbiased, but are so quickly taught to judge, and judge harshly. Then as we age, we double down, and our world becomes more and more narrow with each passing year as we forget how to set aside our biases, even if it would strongly be to our benefit. We can't remember how to free ourselves to be able to listen and learn from others. Change becomes threatening, and since the world is in constant change, we end up suspicious and fearful, lost and confused, angry that things aren't the way they were when they were good, back in the day. We mourn for a time when it seemed like we had control over things, when of course, that was always just an illusion. We come to the end of our days, asking "Is that all there is?" and never getting an answer.

I wish my son the best of luck in his quest to remain an open-minded person, for I know it will always be an ongoing challenge, as it is for anyone. far, so good.