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August 7, 2017


What does it mean to have a thirteen year old in the house? Such a kaleidoscope of feelings and emotions…. pulling me back to being a parent… an adolescent…pushing me forward into the new world young people now inhabit.

It means doing morning exercises at volume 25 with Lady Gaga. WOW! Does that get you going !! What fun to dance around the room while your grand-daughter looks on with a horrified look on her face…. The music was raucous, but well orchestrated, and the album title- “The Fame Monster”- so apt. I’ll bet that lady with the outlandish costumes knows a thing or two about fame and it’s price….

It means remembering that young teenagers never finish ANY task. There is always one sock left on the floor, or the garage door left open, or the kitchen towel scrunched in a heap on the counter.  None of this is done with malice or forethought – just that
vacant look that lets you know… they were thinking of something else.

It means being exasperated at their wooly-headedness one minute – and astounded at their skill and acuity the next. I remember watching, stunned, as she manoeuvred her way through a training session as my assistant with poise and enthusiasm. She took non-verbal cues from me and adjusted to time changes like a pro!


It means being plunged back into the angst of the age. As I assisted with a humanities essay, feelings surfaced about a relationship with a classmate. As hurt and anger came bubbling to the surface, I flashed back to my thirteen year old self – full of anxiety and fear – and, at the same time, felt the compassion and worry of the parent I had once been. We so easily forget the intensity of these experiences – until we once again come face to face with them.

It means listening to a saxophone rehearsal (as she whips through two or three different “Star Wars” tunes) and remembering – a year and a half ago – “Hot Cross Buns” with lots of hesitations and squeaks and sighs.

It means trying to adjust to a new conservatism in food choices; no, she won’t eat kale or chard, but a little broccoli is OK. But we both LOVE fresh peaches… with the juice dribbling down our fingers.

It means that shopping for clothes is a test of adult patience. Her range of dislikes – is almost unlimited. In one way, I approve; she has rejected the fashion band-wagon, the slavish following of trends. But her range of likes is so narrow… now I know why her mother has given up trying!

It means such contentment as we munch popcorn and watch a movie that we both love.

It means wondering if she will like an outing you have planned and worrying about her occasional silences and trying to remember how I felt when I was with my grand-mother all those years ago.

It means being extraordinarily proud as she successfully completes her first adult interview and spends afternoons shadowing at a vet clinic. What a source of satisfaction to be able to give this child – who has wanted to be a vet since she was six – her first exposure to the career.



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