Our oldest child turned thirteen today. She said she got “a good haul” of gifts this year. She said rather matter of factly to mom, “My childhood is over.” Whoa, whoa settle down there, not quite yet.
She has a discipline that never fails to stun me. She made sure to make time for flute practice though it wasn’t asked for (nor expected, with all her friends at the pool before the party.) But that’s our girl. She took the time to call her grandparents, and the Aunt who couldn’t be at the party.
The party itself (four hours worth!) was a blast for her and her friends…and pleasantly unremarkable. Just a bunch of 13 year old girls who made sushi, did karaoke and I think talked about boys and school. I tried not eavesdrop. My few jokes to the gaggle as I’d pass by fell flat at least half the time. They were in their own world.
How many will be in the same world together in five, ten…thirty years? There was a discordant grim undertow of my thoughts, how many friendships at any age are of mere convenience, and yet of an importance that maybe is never replicated. The line from the end of Stand by Me came to mind, something like “I never had any friends like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?” Now our first baby is no longer even 12.
Having younger sisters occludes seeing the rapid transformations occurring with all of them. Having a 9 year old elides the mind in some ways to think of your 13 year old as still 9.
Parenting used to have binary dispositions: you were fun, or the disciplinarian. These two modes seem to merge over time in one’s baby’s life. Friends are neither, and you hope they choose them well. They’ll be in their own world long after you’re gone. I worry we don’t encourage our child enough on various matters while growing up…but maybe the most important one is friendship and she appears to be doing quite well there.
Happy birthday to our oldest.