My First Baby is Twelve

Birthday Cake2

It seems to be a tradition now that the schools close on Jane’s birthday.

Last year, it was the Polar Vortex. This year . . . it’s whatever excuse the meteorologists have cooked up to explain the -30F chilling winds screaming across the plains and right up our noses into our brains.

Since she was off—and I took a vacation day to look after both kids—we gave her one of her presents early: the Nintendo 2DS that I swore the Oath of the Good Mother* I wouldn’t buy but found cheap at GameStop, which sells refurbished stuff at very good discounts. Such a good discount, that I promised to take her to the nearest GameStop to get, you know, a game or two to play on it.

Let it be said that five minutes after I made that promise, she was bundled up and in the car, honking the horn.

That’s a sign of a good gift, wouldn’t you say?

Of course, since the store was in the Mall anyway, I held that promise over her head to force her to try on  couple of winter coats, because her old one is two years old and fits her like a puffy, purple straightjacket.  Luckily, she adores the new one she found—a black trench coat number with a lot of zippers—so that makes it a kind of bonus present.**

We grabbed lunch, then went back home so Jane could play her new games and a somewhat jealous Sunny could do her math homework.

Tonight, she’ll open the rest of her gifts, if we can pull her away from this one.

That gives me the afternoon to contemplate the evolution—if you’re the parent of a Pokemon trainer, you’ll get the pun—of my first baby.

Eleven, I think she and I would agree, wasn’t much fun for anyone.  The hormone fairy arrived and treated her like a punching bag for a while, and when she tried to lash back, she missed and hit the family instead.  Her body and her mind stopped synching up for a little bit, there, and the misalignment sometimes garnered the kind of attention she wasn’t equipped to handle. She kind of forgot why school is important—or didn’t believe us when we reminded her—and though she managed to regroup, it wasn’t quite enough.

Twelve, I hope, will be better for everyone.

But especially my beautiful girl, who is bright and funny and willful—and hella won’t-ful—and creative and all kinds of loud and maybe a quart low on self-esteem.

Happy birthday, Janie—may you collect them all.


*”I swear  on my intentions to be a Good Mother that I will never _________________, until such time that I wear down, cave in, or explode.  So help me, please.”

**It also makes her look about seventeen, which might be a problem, if she could stop talking about Pokemon for more than three minutes at a time.