My youngest daughter just turned 13. As many of you have experienced, my life has changed immensely since this momentous occasion. I have been through this restructuring before with my oldest daughter but I was younger. In addition, this time I kind of know what to expect and it is, in a word, frightening.
Let us take, for instance, the simple task of dropping her off at school. Pre-teen times I would say it was time to go and we got in the car and left. Now I have to wait while make-up is applied. The toning and shading has to be just right. Next is the coiffing of the hair. Does it need to be curled with a curling iron or is she just throwing it in a ponytail? Even a ponytail requires time because just the right hair tie must be selected. Next, the proper outfit must be chosen. This task alone can take an immense amount of time. Finally, we arrive at shoe selection, which I am told is the most important part of any outfit. Color coordination, style and comfort all play into this equation.
Eventually, she finds herself ready for school. Excitedly I grab the car keys and head for the door only to be delayed once again. She has to say good-bye to each of the three animals. Once proper hugs, kisses and pats are given, we finally head out about 20 minutes later than we should be leaving.
Next, we come to the art of feeding a teenager. Pre-teen daughter loved Taco Bell and hated McDonald's. If I needed to grab her some food on my way home from work I could quickly swing into Taco Bell grab a couple of crunchy tacos and be on my way. That was, until she turned 13 and I brought home Taco Bell. I was met with a frowny face and told that she did not like Taco Bell. I asked her since when. She said she has not liked Taco Bell for a long time. I asked what she would prefer. Of course, she said McDonald's. I did not even ask. I simply added McDonald's to my memory banks as the go-to fast food location. That is, until 14 arrives.
Finally, let us talk about vacationing with a teenager. Recently, we decided to take an unplanned four-day trip to Florida to get away for a few days. We arrived late in the day on Thursday. We checked into the hotel and went to a local restaurant for dinner. Everyone was enthusiastic and happy to be in sunny Florida.
I was optimistic for the vacation until the next morning. The teenager was not enthusiastic about going to the beach. She wanted to go eat breakfast first and then spend time by the hotel pool. We accommodated this request because who does not like food and soaking up the sun by the pool?
After about two hours by the pool, the teenager wanted to return to the room. This is where the teenage syndrome really kicked into high gear. She did not want to leave the room. She wanted to text with friends and watch YouTube videos. She had no interest in the beach, the sun, the surf, or especially the parents.
The only thing she would happily leave the room for was to go shopping for Squishmallows. No, these are not some type of sea creature found in the waters of Florida. These are small stuffed animals found in Walgreens and Target. So part of our vacation included an extensive tour of Walgreens and Target in Panama City. I bet you did not know that both Hot Springs and Panama City have three Walgreens each. I learned this on my vacation.
My wife heard a theory that teenagers are made difficult so it is easy for the parents to let them go off to college when the time comes. I am not sure I agree with that theory because if it were left up to a majority of parents the new age to enter college would be 13.