This girl, my oldest child, turned fifteen a few days ago.
The ultra weird thing is that I remember being fifteen. I remember it quite well.
My fifteenth year was the one when my relationship with my mother reached an all-out toxic point and we mutually agreed that it would be better for me to live elsewhere. So we called up some distantish relatives in upstate New York and convinced them, somehow, to let me come and live with them.
There was a cousin–Kate–my own age. I liked her but it was as if she’d grown up in another century, but not in a cute way. Their family was very intellectual. They had no TV (I was used to a steady diet of MTV and cheesy sitcoms) and only had a record player. No tapes, no CDs. Mostly they sat around and read and listened to the radio (you know your life is old-school when A Prairie Home Companion is the highlight of your week.) But I grew up in a bookish, classical-music-listening family so it wasn’t as tragic as I thought it would be.
I did convince Kate that she needed to modernize her look. I volunteered to cut her hair (hey, how hard could it be?), which ended up being so short that I had to shave her neck. And then I decided that she should lighten it up a bit. Back in the 80’s that meant one thing: peroxide. So after a few treatments she had a brassy, blondish, too-short hairdo. She liked it, but I’m sure Uncle Hugh and Aunt Joyce were horrified. They were much too polite to say anything, though.
Fifteen was the year that I decided that I really wanted a boyfriend. But the boys didn’t quite understand that fact. Turns out that teenage boys are generally terrified of girls. Especially girls who are smart and self-assured and have a merciless sense of humor. (Hoo boy, did I have a smart mouth on me too. I got in trouble for sassing just about everyone back then.) Instead all the guys flirted and made out with my friends, leaving me to cry into my pillow after every party and dance.
Fifteen-year-old me was sort of a mess.
But I made some great friends when I was fifteen. Some I’m still close to (Hi Kim! Was I really as big of a spaz as I remember?)
My daughter seems to have her head screwed on straight. If she’s crying in her pillow over boys, I am unaware. She gets good grades (I couldn’t have cared less) and tries hard to do what’s right (I stole 15 gallons of ice cream one night from a shop that rhymes with Len & Perry’s. I would have stolen more but I was with friends and we were laughing too hard. I’m pretty sure I wet my pants at some point.)
My mother used to threaten me as a teenager that one day I would have a daughter as horrible as me; that it would serve me right! Well, Mom, all I can say is, “Ha ha. I got a good one. Your curses didn’t work after all!”*
*I am fully aware that with six kids I’ll get it with one of them. My odds are not good.