My 13 year old daughter, Patricia, has really blossomed this year. It’s been a joy to watch, until today. Now, I am thinking a convent might be an appropriate learning institution for her until she’s - oh let’s pick a number – 30 years old. Thirty is good, a nice round number. She’ll still have a lot of good years left and I will have survived what every parent fears, your teenage daughter dating.
It hasn’t begun yet, mind you. In fact, she lamented to me over the summer that “all the other girls in school have boys that like them, but not me.” My heart broke for her. I told her I didn’t have a boyfriend until late in high school, and that teenage boys are nothing to brag about anyway. (Generally speaking they are a pile of braces, bad jokes, awkwardness, and Axe body spray.) I told her they were too stupid to realize how funny, beautiful, intelligent and amazing she is. My words fell on deaf ears. The summer went on, and somewhere between swim team and the end of August, the caterpillar turned into a butterfly. She went to school with an incredible sense of herself, a boatload of confidence, and a totally hot new school wardrobe which left a gaping hole in my checking account. I was proud of her, happy for her. I looked back on my days in 8th grade and shuddered. She was definitely on track to a better 8th grade year than mine had been.
So last night, when she bounced onto my bed during the Monday football game, she was all smiles. To anyone with a teenage daughter, smiles are always good because if they aren’t smiling then that usually means drama. Anyway, apparently, some boy (who shall remain nameless) who she found to be cute, walked up to her in the hallway and told her “Wow, Patricia you really look great this year.” She was elated. Suddenly all her hard work getting healthy and happy over the summer had paid off. She felt…HOT. I was elated for her as well…until I started to think about it for a bit. Then suddenly my overriding thought was how can I find this brazen little prick, who obviously had ill-conceived designs for my daughter, so I could punch him in the face and threaten him within an inch of his awkward, smelly life. My father hated teenage boys. Now I get it. Dad was right. I didn’t say anything to her. I just smiled, and a little something inside me died. She wasn’t a kid anymore. She’d always be my baby, but the kid was definitely out the door. I wanted to cry, but I didn’t. I wanted to lock her in her room for a VERY long time, but I didn’t. I just sat there, feeling like nothing would ever be the same again. I hate it when that shit happens.
I mentioned it to Bill this morning, who was quick to remind me that he did, in fact, own a pump action shotgun which he would be happy to clean at the dining room table on any evening when some Axe-laden teenage predator came by to see her. I laughed, but knew he was only half kidding. He told me that the sound of that pump action is something many teenage boys have nightmares about. I considered making it my new doorbell sound. Inside I promised myself I would pull the trigger myself if any of these miscreants touched my girl. I knew it was hardly the case, but a mother can dream.
So one more milestone down and many more to go. She turns fourteen in October. Next year she will be a freshman, and not too far down the road, she will be getting her driver’s license. There will be “boy/girl” parties, and dating, and proms. What happens when she falls in love and gets her heart broken? What happens when she leaves for college? Ok, not thinking about those moments, it makes me teary-eyed and pathetic. I know she is a smart kid who is far beyond her years when it comes to maturity, but I’d still like to shield her from all those awful moments when you think your world is ending and nothing will ever be the same.
I’m lucky in the fact that she talks to me without any reservations because she knows there is absolutely nothing she can tell me that will shock or surprise me. My teens and twenties were filled with all those memorable moments, both good and bad. I’m not THAT old. I still remember them all, some with great fondness, and some with a cringe.
Ahhhh, to be young again. I know that I’m not. I am however, considering getting my concealed carry permit. And you're never too old to learn how to clean a pump action shotgun.