I’d just gotten a text, “Mom, when are you picking me up?” She’d not looked to see me sitting in the parking lot, waiting for her practice to end. Protecting herself from the unpredictable rain, she’d been standing with friends in the school’s lobby, oblivious of the view from the large glass windows lining the hall.
I replied, “Now.”
She climbed into the van smiling, which lately is a rarity of expression as she navigates her pre-teen moods. “Hi mom,” she said, completely ignoring the siblings seated inside. “I had a great day today,” she continued with conviction.
“Oh, really?” I replied.
“Yep. I’ll tell you about it when we get home,” she said, noting that the statement had piqued the attention of her brothers.
But when we got home, she busied herself with testing make up applications for her performance. She flat ironed her hair and practiced putting it in pig tails. She analyzed her outfits for school, trying shirts and sweaters and pants and skirts on in various combinations, switching her hips side to side, and evaluating her curves in each. At one point, she reminded me, “I still need that new bra, mom. This one is too small.”
And then she was in bed, never having really shared the source of her happiness.
I inquired this morning, “So, what made yesterday so great?”
“My friend – my BFF – she told my crush I liked him. And HE likes ME, too! And now I don’t know what to do.” She beamed. “I’d forgotten that she was going to do it, but she’d had it in the agenda.”
“Yeah. Everything is in the agenda. But I forgot that yesterday was THE day.” And she quieted then, possibly hoping I’d give her some old-people-wisdom about the next step in crushdom, but she didn’t ask for advice.
And I didn’t know what to give.
Truth is, I have no idea what to say about middle school and boys. I remember my crushes. My in-school-only-boyfriend-of-the-week and the endless notes passed between us. Of dreaming about him while teachers droned on about some important curriculum I was beyond disinterested in learning. Then, there were no phone calls. I didn’t carry a camera to take selfies at the lunch table – – there was no such thing as a selfie without a timer and quick feet, anyway.
Here she is, feeling things for some young man. My little girl likes someone. And he likes her too. It’s innocent enough, I suppose, but this is the girl who just the other day said, “Mom, there are no storks; just you and Dad.” The very same young lady who told me she dreamed of another little brother, so why don’t Dad and I just “get busy” already.
This is also the same child who likes to surf through stores clinging to the edge of a cart she’s set rolling, who builds sandcastles in the sand too close to the tide knowing the motes and towers will be sludge with the first wave.
Yet she’s abandoned Nickelodeon for ID. She paints her nails elaborately with the tutorials from YouTube. And she often curls up with a book or her laptop alone.
I’m bracing myself for more of this new person she’s morphing into – one that is neither child nor teen nor adult.