Today my daughter turned fourteen. It’s an exciting age, fourteen, in that you really can’t completely predict what’s going to happen to a kid. I mean, don’t get me wrong, she’s a good kid. She’s smart, funny, and super interesting. But I think you have to admit that these are the “hang on to your hat” kind of years in a child’s life.
Let’s all take a moment and reminisce about what we were like when we were fourteen. I’ll start. First of all, hormones pretty much wrecked what was already unfortunate hair for a self conscious teenager. I had naturally curly hair, and once I turned fourteen, it became uncontrollably frizzy. Also, mullets were in style (at least I kind of thought so). Also, I had a lot of misplaced confidence in a styling product called Hair Glue.
I’ll leave it to your imaginations. All I can really share to help you understand this situation is to tell you about the time in Grade 9 when my brother and I got off the school bus. One of his female friends took him aside and asked him, “Is that your sister?” He answered in the affirmative, and she said “poor girl.”
POOR GIRL. She wasn’t wrong.
So clearly I can understand that my daughter might go through some times that may seem a bit tricky. And I worry because, in many ways, we are very much alike. We care about current events, and get too loud when we are really worked up over them. We love animals and animals love us. We can’t go anywhere without finding one following along behind us, knowing somehow that they’ve found some very soft hearts. We crack each other up, as in falling-against-each-other, stumbling-around-laughing.
But she is a bit ahead of the person I was at the same age, in that she understands that styling products shouldn’t have to be removed the same way one removes gum from hair. She is also a lot funnier than I was at the same age, which bodes well for her future.
She’s super talented at drawing, and has that creative artist’s sensitive soul. She is far more athletic that I was, which means she can run without making her P.E. teacher laugh behind his hand when he thought I couldn’t see him. Ahem.
She already knows how to apply makeup, even though she doesn’t wear it out of the house quite yet. I was allowed to at the same age, and I really shouldn’t have been, considering the heavy hand I had with the hot pink eye shadow. But my girl follows her heart, not the crowd, and she’s still not interested in showing up in makeup or high heels.
Most of all, she’s so very brave. We once had a mouse in our kitchen, and while I do love animals, I don’t do rodents in my cooking space. My husband was at work, and I was alone with the kids, so I put on my best tough face and got to work trying to catch it in a box so I could release it. But every time it would pop out from behind an appliance, I would begin to scream in a manner that was quite out of my control and run into the bathroom across the hall. It was frustrating, and more than a bit embarrassing in front of the kids (who have that healthy sense of humor).
Finally my son went back upstairs, since the entertainment was getting repetitive. My daughter looked over at me, red-faced and sweating from anxiety. She took my hand and sat me down. Then she went back into the kitchen and picked up the box I had just thrown in hysteria. She said “Mom, I got this. Just stay there. The screaming scares it back behind the oven.”
I stayed. And I watched this realist, this brave human that somehow descended from my gene pool. I couldn’t imagine anyone more beautiful than this capable, valiant, tender-hearted human being.
Happy birthday to my fourteen-year-old girl. You are one tough cookie, and I am proud to be your mom.