Well, here we are: the teenage years.
Thirteen years ago this morning M came into the world, full of drama from the start. It’s a cliche to say something like “and that day, my life changed forever.” But, really, what else can you say? Marriage is a big change in your life. But S and I had also been together three years when we got married. There were some adjustments that came with not having our own apartments anymore. Yet life wasn’t really that different and we knew what we were getting into.
Nothing prepares you for kid number one, though. Every single aspect of your life gets turned completely upside-down. That was even more dramatic for me as M’s birth was the moment I took a big left turn with my career as well. When you add that in, you can argue M’s birth was the biggest moment of my adult life.
She would love having that level of importance.
So who is M at 13? We haven’t noticed any major changes in her personality, attitude, or behavior yet. Sure, she’s moody and emotional and will spend entire days in her room if we don’t force her to come out. If frustrating, that’s still all normal and expected. When motivated, she still gets all wound up about the things that have always wound her up. When we went down to pick C up from camp two weeks ago, M spent two-straight hours talking to me about every single detail of the camp that she remembered from last summer. That kid has always loved to talk. Even though she has grumpy stretches of silence these days, she’ll still talk the life out of you if given the right stimulus.
She is smart – really smart when she wants to be – but often lacks motivation to really use her smarts. That drives me crazy, mostly because it reminds me of myself at her age. She is – as I was – capable of getting straight A’s. But neither of us has the full commitment to do it, slacking off in subjects that don’t interest us completely. Like me she has the uncanny ability to call up detailed memories from long ago. If only she/I could have harnessed that skill for academics!
She’s still loud and obnoxious at times. But she’s also full of life when she’s in a good mood. You want her to tone it down about 10%, but you’re also thrilled that she finds so much excitement in things and wants to share that excitement with others.
She doesn’t have a lot of super close friends, which has always concerned us a little. But, also, she seems to be casual friends with all the girls in her class, from the most to least popular. Every few months it’ll seem like she’s gravitated toward a new friend she talks about most. But there’s never the one friend she wants to hang out with every weekend. Which, at this stage in life, could be a blessing.
Speaking of camp, like last year this will be a quiet birthday in the house because she is at camp. She’s looking forward to the traditional CYO camp birthday celebration: getting thrown into the creek. Although she would be quick to say you don’t actually get thrown in the creek. “You just lay down and they splash you.”
So here we go, with the most fun part of parenting a daughter. The fun has already started, of course. It’s not like some fairy appears on their 13th birthday, waves a magic wand and unleashes the hormones and moods and super dramas that are going to dominate her life for the next decade. But the number does feel like a big change to me. She’s not a kid anymore. She’s not a pre-teen anymore. She’s begun the transition into being a young lady.
Which doesn’t seem possible, 13 years under her belt or not.