Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Happy Birthday, Sweet 13

My niece, Maggie, turns 13 today. In honor of her birthday, I am dedicating this post to her. I would love to give her the gift of wisdom and insight to know what is really worth freaking out about as a teenager but I suppose part of being a teenager is freaking out about everything and I certainly wouldn’t want to deprive her of any valuable learning. I wish I could give her the gift of self-assurance, at least a tiny bit. Or I wish I could give her the gift of being able to say “fuck this” to anything that makes her feel bad. But it is rare, maybe downright impossible, to see in ourselves what others see in us. Maybe it is also impossible to provide insight into the sheer idiocy of adolescence. It’s just a road you have to take.

I don’t actually remember my 13th birthday, which is a shame because I have a feeling it was much more subdued than my 14th birthday. My 14th birthday sticks with me, possibly because of the supreme effort I put into ruining it and alienating everyone around me on that day. It’s not worth telling the whole story, but I know Maggie will enjoy some of the highlights, which included:
  1. Fallout from a little incident the day before when I got drunk after school
  2. Fallout from skipping school the day of my birthday and then inadvertently confessing (to a third-party) in the presence of my mother who immediately confronted me with the question “You did what?!”
  3. Fallout from the poor judgment used when I decided, somewhat impulsively, that “Fuck you,” was a clever response to this question – in the midst of all my friends attending my suddenly less-than-festive birthday party.
But that was 14 and we’re talking about 13.

I unearthed my 8th grade journal today, which I started about 5 months after my 13th birthday. Although it doesn’t shed any light on my actual birthday, it goes a long way in illustrating my thought process at age 13. A very long way. One might even say, far, far too long a way… Again, I’ll have to spare you the specifics (or spare my dignity, however you want to read that) but the most important things on my mind at age 13 were homework, friends and boys (duh). My spelling was atrocious. I was extremely fond of cute misspellings such as "‘cuz" and "Gawd." And uh, the boy I found attractive at the time, I describe as “fine.” As in, he’s so fine. I am in pain just typing that. I also appear to have had very little control over my emotions as I often made statements such as “I hope I don’t like him.” Well, honestly… how stupid is that? Did I or did I not like him? It was my own emotion for heaven’s sake… you’d think I could work that one out. Obviously, I liked him – but with a significant degree of embarrassment about it.

My beautiful niece
So there you are Maggie. I know how you enjoy these glimpses into the past and that is one thing I love about you. You are a genuine teenager now. My advice to you is to start writing everything down, because 30 years from now, it could make for some really funny stories. And the only thing I wish I could tell you and have you actually believe is that you really are perfect, just like Pink says.


  1. That is pretty close to perfect advice.


  2. Thank you! Since she's 13 she probably thought it was lame advice. Or maybe not, since I'm only the aunt, not the mother. My own daughter, who is only 8, thinks all of my advice is worthless already...