My Earbaby turned 13 yesterday. She's a teenager. And as her father and I strap ourselves in for the long haul, I look to the year ahead with hope in my heart, and an impending sense of doom.
EB has changed so much this last year between 12 and 13. As puberty came on full force, she changed schools, styles, friends, and of course the ever-changing attitude is a daily occurrence. We don't know what EB we will come home to, pick up at the bus, or even wake up with. And all my friends with older children have told me to get ready -- the ride just gets bumpier from here.
But yesterday was a day for celebration. EB had been pushing to get blue coloring in her hair. This was an easy decision for me. It's just hair and it grows out. Now's the time for her to experiment with her own look, and a minister once related that these aren't necessary battles. She wasn't from my church but what she said I took to heart. She had older kids and she said "if they want to wear all black, or dye their hair blue, just let them. It's just hair and it's just a phase."
This advice came during EB's black clothes phase which caused me much annoyance. But Pastor Kay, you were right. She came out of the black clothes phase and became a fashion queen of color and cute styles. Blue hair, oh, big deal. She's 13 and it's not hurting anyone.
But I used her shifting attitude to get the EB I wanted, at least for this week. I told her I didn't want any more attitude, smart mouth or snarkiness, if she wanted to get her hair done, on my dime. She remembered and wasn't nasty all week. When the eye rolling started, I merely had to remind her.
One thing she gave herself was Facebook. Now I'm not crazy about it, but our agreement was that she had to be 13 (Facebook's rules), so the night before her birthday, she signed up and signed on. Another part of her agreement was that I had to have full access. I trust her, but I don't trust the pedophiles who troll the internet looking to insert themselves into children's lives. I joined Facebook too, reluctantly (one close friend's first post was "What! You're on Facebook!) since I've loudly and for a long time voiced my distaste for this time-suck when I already have to be plugged into the internet for 40 hours a week for work. But I also have to do my due diligence as a parent and so I swallowed my displeasure.
By the first day EB had 80 friends, connecting with kids she hasn't seen since second or third grade, as well as friends from her former and present school. And my friends (67 the first day for me!) are coaching me on the privacy settings for her to keep anything she posts from going viral. Her father also said if there was a problem with her not giving us full access, he would make sure she didn't use it. And he can. Sometimes it's really great to be married to an IT guy. So EB's present to herself made her day. And yesterday, she got a blue streak in her hair.
This new blue style was in honor of a dance she's going to tonight across town. She wanted to get her hair done for that, and she even got a new outfit for it. Her dad bought her a couple of things, including a new winter jacket, saying this was her birthday week. Actually her birthday week started a week and a half ago, and continues through this weekend. My husband is big on birthdays, his and EB's anyway. Mine just gets lost in the shuffle right after Christmas, and I'm lucky if I get a birthday dinner. My sisters-in-law always give me something nice. But a birthday week or month for me? Not a chance. Oh well, my cross to bear.
Anyway, EB's birthday is a big celebration for her father and I. We start planning months in advance and the day of, I always text him at the time she was born and congratulate him for having a daughter. It's a nice time of reminiscence for both of us. We debate every year on what the big gift would be. One year it was a bike, another her first phone, etc. Once we were done with the parties, we thought things would get cheaper. They really haven't, but rather than escalating with expensive electronics, I've tried to get more creative.
So this year, she gets dance. Not just any dance, she gets a private lesson (well, semi-private, she can bring a friend) with her hip-hop teacher. This class is her favorite hour of the week. She works really heard, sweats really hard, is exhausted and hyped at the same time. So I asked if she could have a class just for her, where she could learn some choreography she has only partly taught herself from watching YouTube. I was surprised by her reaction. She was so happy, she almost cried. In fact, she covered her eyes. I knew I struck the right chord.
This will be a busy weekend for our new teenager. She has a dance tonight, dance classes all day tomorrow and then a private on Sunday. She'll be in heaven. She has new hair, some money and an iTunes card and she's happy.
My husband and I will go to dinner tonight, toast our good fortune in having a great kid who's happy and healthy and then we'll strap ourselves in. As long as we have each other, we'll be able to survive this bumpy ride. Happy Birthday my love.