Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My daughter Kate, as I've mentioned here before, is 13. You've heard me talk about her age because I can't quite believe it. I've had half a year to process this age, and still. How is possible she's a teenager, how in the world did it happen so fast, and how can I be the mother of a teenager when I was one myself just a minute ago (I know - ha)? I realize parents say this at every single age: How can it be that you're a month, a year, four years old, 10? For me, it's 13.

Kate got her hair cut the other day, and the stylist asked her what grade she's in. When she answered 7th, the woman looked quickly over at me with an expression that said "you poor thing." And then she said it out loud. You poor thing. I wasn't sure if she was referring to me or to Kate, but I understood her message. She went on to say she would not go back to 7th grade for anything in the world. She'd choose any year in high school over 7th grade.

What interested me about this conversation was that, though I knew Kate was listening, she seemed unaffected, unimpressed. And that's the thing about 13 and 7th grade: You're in it and it's all you know at that moment and it's OK. Certainly not every day is OK, and for some, few days are. But the other day, when I was driving Kate and two elementary-school friends home, we passed their old school. I asked them whether, if they could choose, they would go back or stay where they are. Instantly, they each said they would choose Middle School. They like going from class to class. They like that there are so many kids. They like that they're older. They like being 7th graders.

Someday they might say something different. They might say they wouldn't go back to 7th grade for anything in the world. But not now. For now, this is what they know. This is who they are.

(Getty Images)


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