Thursday, March 8, 2012

Today my daughter turns 13 years old.

I could sit here and recount all the wonderful memories that we've had together--the trips to the zoo, the shopping trips, the times that I walked her around campus when I was in college, making up funny stories about the statues. But really, you know, you don't care. Those are nice, I guess, to hear, but you weren't there to feel the sun on your arms, to hear her giggle caught on the wind. So you don't know what an amazing child she is and you don't know how much I love her. Or maybe you do. Maybe you have your own kid who is sunshine and laughter.

I could also bemoan the future. She is turning 13 after all, and of all the ages that a parent says to someone else that their child is, 13 is the one sure to get a groan. We are all conditioned to think pretty badly of teenagers, and for good reason too--have you been to the mall lately? HOLY SHIT. They're horrible! But really, although I know there are rough times ahead, I'm sure it is something we will get through. I'm just going to keep her away from the Insane Clown Posse and any boys named "Spike."

I won't do either of those things in this blog post. What I will do is make a confession.

She's 13 today. And I only have five years left with her before I let her go into the mad, mad world. And I miss her already.

Today she walked out of her room, wearing a tight t-shirt with some character from Cartoon Network on it that said something about a moustache, inky skinny jeans, and a flourescent green hoodie. In her hair was a black sequinned headband with a huge bow on it, and she was wearing those orange Dr. Seuss Chuck Taylors. She could be seen from SPACE. But all I could think about was that someday, she is going to walk out of a room, carrying a bag, and I will not be worried about being late for work. I will be worried about leaving her behind in some dorm room with some kid whose parents very well might be homicidal maniacs who let their unsocialized child do nothing but play video games and drink Mountain Dew. THE HORROR. I will worry, and she will not be there to laugh about it. She will belong to the world then.

I am on the downhill slide with Gabby, I guess, and I think it hurts me the most of anything. Gabby has always been with me. She left home when I did, I packed her away to college with me, she moved across the country and moved back with me. She has always been there, by my side. And part of me wants to let her go a little, to see her flourish the way that I know she can, but the other part wants her to mine-all-mine forever. But she won't be.

And dammit, 13 is making me think about that all day. Maybe it is the cruelest age.

But instead of reveling in my own sad-sackedness, I will tell you this about my daughter. She is truly an individual (as the above outfit can attest). I asked her last night what she wanted me to fix her for dinner tonight. We had thought of making ribs or something similar to surprise her, but you never know, so I thought to ask. She thought for a bit, and said "Grilled vegetable skewers." Um, ok. Then she qualifies and says she wants it with hummus and pita (homemade if I can swing it--and I can't today) and tabboulleh. And I sat there and thought, "WHAT IN THE HELL?" When it is my birthday, I go into definite EAT ALL THE THINGS mode. But here stands my 13 year old, telling me she wants to eat VEGETABLES on her birthday?!?

I either did really good with that one, or I totally screwed her up. I'll let you decide and judge away. But at any rate, I'll fill her up with veggies, and see how long I can keep her.

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