The Tangential Thinker

We are making some big adjustments in the Baldwin household. Cranky, as you may know, graduated from sixth grade in June, and she is starting her new school in the fall. Oh, and by ‘in the fall’ I mean last week. Schools have adjusted their schedules. Now school starts in mid-August—and if you play a sport or an instrument or participate in any activity that will help you get accepted into anything better than an online college, it’s even earlier than that. (What are we trying to do—keep up with the Japanese?) I couldn’t figure it out until I went back-to-school shopping (in July!), and Cranky had some odd requests.

    In addition to the usual binders and backpacks and pencils and graph paper—which, surprisingly, they still use—Cranky wanted: a Facebook page, high heels, and permission to go unchaperoned to movies…with boys. She then proceeded to punctuate her request with some of the most chilling words a parent can hear: I’m about to be a teenager.

    About to be a teenager! When did that happen? I mean I’m not an idiot. I know she’s 12. I know after 12 comes 13. I realize 13 is a teenager. I guess I just didn’t remember all the stuff that goes along with that designation. Denial, it’s not just a river in Egypt. Teenagers have secrets and cliques and crushes. Teenagers are moody, emotional and defiant. Worst of all, teenagers date.

    And Cranky’s a girl. She’s mature and composed. Whiny and Punch are boys. Emotionally they’re a whole different kettle of fish. Last week Cranky was organizing her September calendar while Whiny and Punch were arguing about what would happen if you farted into a rainbow. You see my point.

    So school starts early. Good. I guess the one thing adults have figured out about teenagers, having survived the experience themselves, is that the best thing to do with them is keep them busy. They may not realize it at the time, but we all know being a teenager can stink like a bag of dead turtles, so the less time you have to ponder it, the better. And as a parent, this may be my first time to the rodeo, but I think I know what to do: Shop for a tasteful pair of high(ish) heels, monitor her Internet life like she’s activating a terror cell, and practice lurking in the back row of PG-13 movies. Becoming a teenager is a big adjustment…but I’ll get through it. 

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