Lucky 13

July 1, 2022 at 6:15 pm 1 comment

For the past week you have been relentlessly reminding me of milestones. “Dad, this is the last time I will get in the car as a preteen. Dad, this is the last time we will have dinner here when I am a preteen. Dad, this is the last time I will hug you as a preteen. Dad, this is my last phone call with you as a preteen.” It’s silly and glorious for you because you revel in the excitement of new adventures and possibilities. Though I smile and play along, it’s poignant for me.

Try, “This is the last time I will write a birthday essay for my preteen girl.” See what I mean?

When I look back at what you have done since you last peppered me with birthday reminders, I feel as though you have already been a teenager for a while now. You are fiercely independent except when you need something. Your emotional responses to inconveniences are often not at scale with the degree of inconvenience. An increasing percentage of the words I speak to you get ignored. You want to do a million things in the world all at once and frequently complain about being tired, wishing you were home in bed. You are smart, clever, sneaky, and often testy; pushing my patience and boundaries regularly. You experienced your first moment where I declared you were not leaving the house dressed like that. Our clashing of wills is only going to get worse as you navigate your adolescence. The important thing is that we trust one another. So far I haven’t really disappointed you except with my unwillingness to leave you home alone for long stretches of time, and my lack of knowledge of current pop culture.

The past year was full of exploration and self-discovery. You started working on a farm, learning to care for animals in exchange for horse riding lessons. At the start of school you signed up for the three sports, which included cross country even though you didn’t know what it was. You developed a passion for rocks an minerals thanks to your science class and now have a collection displayed in your bedroom. These new hobbies and the new friendships they created, along with a busy life outside of school, has forced you to learn about planning and opportunity cost. This is difficult for a girl who wants to do everything all of the time.

We traveled together on an epic road trip adventure that took us south through Nevada to Las Vegas, west to Hollywood and Hogwarts, then north up Highway 101 to Santa Cruz, San Francisco and Portland. During that time you swam in every pool, ate all of the sushi and ramen we could find, and joyfully explored every corner of Hogwarts Castle from sunrise to sunset. Your new favorite city is San Francisco and you can’t wait to move there. The dusty flat lands of Nevada are not your style.

At home your cooking skills have improved dramatically. Most of the things you make are ideas in your head, or from a recipe you didn’t bother to read very carefully. You ignore most of my kitchen rules and forge ahead, using at least 50% more bowls and utensils than necessary, and mostly getting the measurements right. I admire your enthusiasm for cooking, though I wish it extended to cleaning up.

Your second year of middle school was defined by a whirlwind of change. There is one important lesson you learned that has had a positive impact on your schooling. You discovered that trying to ingratiate yourself with the popular people is a painful dead end. This is the part where Dad might say “I told you so” but he won’t because it’s your birthday. Fortunately for you, the timing was right and volleyball season started, bringing with it a new group of friends and social obligations that revived your spirit. You then connected with a teammate who inspired you to turn your grades around. I am so very proud of you for doing that. Not only did you work hard to raise those grades, you worked with the teachers and even successfully defended yourself to them when you thought you should be given more credit for your effort. Your ability to invest yourself in the process of raising your grades will serve you well in the future.

As always, you still love sushi, puppies, your kitty Simba, Netflix, Harry Styles, Starbucks, scary shows, and bubble tea. You have no patience for your brother’s antics yet always miss him when he is away. You are his biggest fan at what seems like his endless season of baseball games you are forced to attend. Pajama pants are your regular uniform and your iPhone is the only item you never misplace.

Given recent events, I worry more about what is ahead for you. We have had conversations about topics that never were on my radar at your age. The hardest part of being your Dad right now is seeing forces working against you, making your life harder than it was for teenage girls in years past. If you keep this drive to explore and learn going, you can find your way through this often turbulent segment of childhood. You are a powerful, intelligent, loving young girl who is poised to do great things.

Today we celebrate you, my newly teen-aged daughter, for it is your 13th birthday. I am incredibly proud of what you have accomplished this year. You inspire me every day. This Dad is lucky to have you.

Happy Birthday to you, my Best Boo, my Norah Grace.

Entry filed under: Being Dad, General. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

Our American Fear

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Peggy  |  July 1, 2022 at 10:23 pm

    Another enjoyable tribute to Norah! She is growing up!

    Reply

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