I miss footie pajamas and sippy cups. Parenting was clearer then. Definitions have smudged over the past few months — how much eyeshadow is okay for a 12-year-old to wear; how much visible cleavage is okay for an almost 12-year-old. (Very little and none, respectively.)
We’re at the edge of exponential complication, lingering over a last sliver of childhood before the hurricane of two teenagers strikes with full force. No one’s screaming that they hate us or slamming any bedroom doors. Yet. But it’s coming. The air’s thick with hormones and dichotomy.
They wanted to see Tangled, the latest animated Disney movie. At the rate things are becoming lame around here, I would not have predicted that. They ditched us, of course, sat somewhere in the back of the theatre. But after, they held our hands all the way back out to the car — one in her inappropriate push-up bra and too-tight skinny jeans, one in her too-loose cargo pants and inappropriate fuchsia eye shadow. They’ll be taller than me by next year.
From the inside, this age was miserable. From the outside, it is magical — watching them take grown-up out and try it on, twirling around in it. They are so beautiful in their alternating uncertainty and fearlessness, luminous with awkward grace.
And then, just as fast, the grown-up is all put away. There is not a word for this, for these women-dipped girls — not quite ready to let go of who they were a minute ago, hesitantly brushing up against who they’ll become. Contradictions ravage them at breakneck speeds.
We brace ourselves with arms wide open.