On Turning 14

Eldest daughter turns 14 today.  On Thursday, I went home feeling edgy (as seems to be my usual these days).  By the time I arrived home at 6:30 I had picked up youngest daughter from the afterschool program and she and I had gone to the grocery store.  The eldest and middlest children had walked to and from the middle school football game, and I found them lounging in the living room with some ghastly show on the television.  I knew I needed to fix dinner, but decided that I needed most to go for a walk and shake some of the edginess from me so we didn’t have a replay of days earlier.

“Anyone want to go for a walk with me?” I offered.  Middle child declined.  Youngest had already found a comfortable place in her own home, a place she hadn’t been for 11 hours, and also declined. Surprisingly, eldest daughter jumped up and said “I’ll go,” and ran downstairs to change out of the clothes she had just changed in to.

Minutes later we were striding and she asked how my day went (she is aware enough to know that the last few had not gone so well).  “Just sent an email to 3000 of my closest friends with an error in it,” I said, sighing the sigh that says I’d mutilate myself right now if I did such things.

“Oh that’s awful,” she said.  “I’m sorry.”  We walked on a bit and I finally took myself out of my own woes to ask how her day went.

“I tripped over my shoe in the hall and fell on my face,” she said. And I stopped walking, looked her up and down. 

“Oh, Honey!  Oh, oh, oh, that must have been … on your face?  Not just a stumble?  On your face?”

“Right on my face.  And Kyle was right there (we all know that Kyle is her current crush), and next to him was my seventh grade crush and his girlfriend and next to them was my sixth grade crush –”

“Were they having a meeting of the {Eldest Daughter} Crush Club or something?”

“Something like that …” We walked and talked and she was mortified but a friend was walking toward her and the friend did what friends do (‘What are you looking at … haven’t you ever seen someone fall before?’ and helping her pick up her stuff.) It was horrible, and as I’ve told this story to a select few, they, too, remembering 8th grade, are mortified for her. But she got up, dusted herself off, and moved forward.  I heard her story and tried to do the same, using her example to shame myself for allowing a simple mistake to derail me so viscerably.

Friday evening, I asked about her day and if there were any repercussions from her fall.  “No,” she said, “cuz some other kid fell down the stairs today.”

“Oh, no!  Is he alright?”

“Yeah, he just fell down the last three stairs and everybody laughed at him.”

“Did you?” I asked, wondering which side of things she’d fall.

“Not right away, and not to his face. (mom cringes)  I helped him get up and helped him pick up his stuff and once he was okay, I smiled at him” (mom relaxes, pleased).

How she does this, as she turns 14 today, with all this self-assurance that is tempered by her knowledge of exactly where she lives in the middle school pecking order (oh, I can’t talk to her, she’s popular“), and still finds the courage to not only stand up, but to help someone else up along the way, I don’t know.

Fourteen is hard. I hear parents say it all the time. But it helps for parents to remember that being 14 is usually harder on them than it is on us who must live with them. I try to temper her temper by remembering that and reminding the other adult who lives here of the same.

But if this is how 14 starts—with mortification and recovery—then I think I can learn as much about getting back up from the new 14 year old in my life than I ever learned when it was me.

Blessed birthday baby girl.  Thank you for it all. 

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About TinaLBPorter

I write poetry and blog at www.tinalbporter.com. And I'm thrilled to be writing with you.
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5 Responses to On Turning 14

  1. abarclay12 says:

    Good story. Your 14 year-old is impressive.

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  2. uuMomma says:

    Thanks, MsKitty, and EBS. Michelle: welcome!

    We have survived the day, low key though it was for a birthday.

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  3. Michelle says:

    Happy Birthday to your daughter! They grow up so quickly

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  4. Happy Birthday to your eldest, Momma. Sounds like she’s well on her way to mature self-confidence – and I concur with Ms. K., she probably learned a lot from you! Blessings to all in your family, with all that’s going on.

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  5. mskitty says:

    What a dear kid you’ve got there, Momma, thanks for sharing her story with us. And it’s so normal to agonize about the mistakes we make, so easy to let our anxiety about them go way beyond their actual worth, and so hard to let go of that anxiety. How lovely to be able to learn from a resilient daughter that life goes on, even when we goof up mightily. And I suspect she learned that from you!

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