A Real, Live Teenager
My daughter turned 13 recently. She doesn't let me talk about her anymore so this will be a short post. It will also be pretty boring because she's really delightful. I'm not even being sarcastic.
I realize some parents really have hellish experiences with teenagers, but I've always liked them pretty well. I can relate to them better than babies and toddlers anyway. Teenagers can speak, if they so choose, and they respond much better to incentives (you will do this or I will take away your phone).
I am rather teen-ish myself. I, too, enjoy sarcasm, smart-assery, rolling my eyes, slamming doors, self-pity, and being alone in my room. I, too, have mood swings. Especially now that I am nearing menopause. I also still have acne (as I think everyone is aware), but I have some reason to hope that menopause will actually be welcome on that front. Knowing my luck, though, probably not.
As with every other stage of her life, it looks like my daughter's teen years will be very mild. She is naturally rational, level-headed, empathetic, and communicative. She is more mature than many adults I know. She's fun and interesting. Unlike when she was a toddler, her interests overlap with mine. She loves football, and so do I. In contrast, I had very little interest in Paw Patrol, I can't imagine why not.
And she is increasingly a font of pop culture information, which I really need at this point. For instance, I recently learned that "shipping" does not just apply to moving goods from place to place. No, you can "ship" two people, and that means you want them to get together romantically. For instance, I ship (hard!) Lupita Nyong'o and Trevor Noah. This does not mean I put them in a box and mail them, although I suppose this situation could facilitate a romantic connection. It means I think they would make an amazing couple, basically the African dream couple. I'm really mystified as to why they haven't gotten together. I am also unclear why and how the word "ship" began to be used this way or what the ramifications are for postal and/or nautical activity.
OK, I literally just got it--relationSHIP. You "ship"people you want to be in a relationship. I feel very clued in right now.
She is also helping me understand SNL again. While I have always enjoyed their political satire, I have lately been mystified by the cultural references and musical guests (honestly, I have always wanted to dump the musical guests, even when they were people I had heard of). I recently watched a skit involving a song called "Driver's License," and while I could appreciate the universal themes of love and loss and driving cars and the humor of manly men getting choked up over a sad, sappy pop song, I was completely ignorant of the song itself or the backstory. My daughter explained to me that the song is part of a whole love triangle involving 3 actors in the High School Musical series (she explained to me that this series exists). She showed me their pictures and told me the whole story, and now I am most definitely on Team Olivia. I mainly made this decision based on the other girl's inability to smile properly, but I feel very strongly about my position.
|How can you not love his adorable girl? Joshua is an idiot.|
I am also regularly consulted as to the attractiveness of various men young enough to be my children. I pretty much tell her they all look young enough to be my children, and she is on her own in assessing their hotness. We both agree, however, that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is pretty much the most attractive man alive, other than her dad. She actually does acknowledge that her dad is very handsome, which I think is impressive, objective analysis on her part.
Were it not for COVID, we had plans to go to NYC together for her 13th and attend a few Broadway shows. How fun would that be? I certainly would rather die than set foot in NYC with a child under the age of 10. But a 13 year old who actually wants to go? I can deal.
The bottom line is, I am not weeping over her growing up, other than it is a visible reminder of my rapidly impending death, of course. Otherwise, I really see no downside to this situation. Instead of having a child that melts down over a bug flying around the room, now I have a child to whom I can say, "I was raised in Africa, where I lived peaceably with bugs. If you want that bug dead, kill it yourself." Incidentally, this is what I also say to my husband. If any one melts down at that point, I just go to my room.
Probably the best thing about my particular teen is that she has zero interest in fashion, hair or makeup. She is still wearing the basketball-style shorts she has been wearing for 3 years, they just keep getting shorter and tighter. I have repeatedly asked her if she wants new shorts and she declines. Besides that, she wears sweats, hoodies, and T-shirts. She owns one pair of shoes (sneakers). She wears two different socks on purpose, meaning she is impervious to the evil sock-disappearance conspiracy (perhaps Bill Gates is stealing everyone's socks!). I'd say I've spent about $100 on her clothing over the past 3 years. She did just take my 20-year-old jean jacket, however.
But I've probably already revealed too much about her, and now she will make fun of my side part.