|My Tweenager on a Family Outing|
My Daughter the Elder just had a birthday. She turned twelve. It was a pretty standard birthday, but to hear her tell it, it was a life changing event. On that day she was thrust, (or maybe she leapt) over the threshold of childhood. Now she is an almost-but-not-quite-may-as-well-be-close-enough-can’t-you-just-say-I-am-a teen. Apparently being called a tween when you are twelve just isn’t cool.
Not much that I do is cool these days. She lives in perpetual fear that I am going to embarrass her. When she invites friends over she makes me swear that I’ll behave. When the doorbell rings she gives me that look before she answers. She takes phone calls into another room just in case I decide to play the peanut gallery and make comments on the side. I am a high risk of anti-cool.
Now that she is twelve she is making it abundantly clear that if I ever want the chance to hang out with my big girl again, I had better shape up. Peer pressure is not limited to her fellow classmates; she is muscling me. No more fart jokes. Adults aren’t supposed to think those are funny. The wardrobe; it needs some serious adjustments. And just because you know what the Harlem Shake is DOES NOT mean you can demonstrate in public!
There are of course exceptions. It is permissible to hang out at home - when no one else is around, and she isn’t on the phone, or the computer, or tablet. We can go to the store together - as long as I am buying the items of her choosing. And we can do ‘other stuff’ as long as it is far, far, far, far from home so that the chance of bumping into any of her classmates is absolutely nil.
She is, of course, making her own way into awesomeness. At twelve, it is all about the look. She has dipped into the wardrobe that her big brother left behind; freaking the tomboy style. Her short tousled hair now has a red flare thanks to some temporary dye (next week it may be purple or green). Most importantly she now has the ultimate teen accessory; for her birthday she got a phone. (This gift would have elevated me into the ranks of coolness – If I have made it – but I didn’t. The phone came from her dad thus buying him forgiveness for being seen together in public any time soon).
To spite all of the fresh effort being dedicated to cultivating cool, that day when she turned twelve wasn’t the start of it. My Daughter the Elder has been that way for a while now. She likes sushi. She is a purple belt in mixed martial arts. She gives great hugs. And she has a wonderful sense of humor. (Don’t tell anyone but sometimes she even laughs at my fart jokes.)
I hope that this letter has found you and yours in good spirits and good health. Until I write again…