Turning thirteen!  Such a big year in the lives of our children and one we look toward with both excitement and dread.  From all that I was told when my daughter was little, I was sure that when she turned thirteen she would turn into a monster.  I learned that the best way to confront a future problem is by handling it before it happens.  One of my favorite sayings is, “An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure.”  So long before she turned thirteen, it was a subject that I brought up now and then in our nighttime conversations.

Every night I would read a chapter or two from a book we both wanted to read before she went to bed. Long after she could have read them by herself, we continued this tradition.  We enjoyed this time together so much that we sometimes stayed up way too late on school nights, just to read one more chapter.  But along with the reading, came discussions about what was happening in life that related to the book.  Since we were reading young adult novels, the topic of growing up was one that often came up.  So I prepared her (and maybe myself) by telling her that when she turned thirteen, she might turn into this monster who no longer wanted to talk or spend time with her boring mother.  She promised me that it would never happen, and I am relieved to say, that it actually never did.

With my son being younger, he was the one I would read to first at night.  Then I would say goodnight to him and go to my daughter’s room where she and I would read and talk.  There was only a thin wall between the two bedrooms, so he would often stay up listening to us talk.  By the time she actually turned thirteen, he already knew that I thought she was going to turn into a monster.

Well on her thirteenth birthday, she went to school first.  As my son, who was almost eight at the time, was leaving, he expressed his concern that his sister might turn into a monster that very day.  And that is when a plan started to formulate in my brain.  When my daughter came home from school that afternoon, I told her what her brother was worried about.  So she went to her bedroom, changed her clothes into more “teenage” looking clothes, put up her hair haphazardly, and put some bubble gum in her mouth which she proceeded to chew dramatically.  When my son walked through the door she approached him, chewing her bubble gum loudly and pushing him, she said something like, “What do you-u-u want?”  He looked from her to me and back again, both surprised and concerned.  She continued to act her part of being a nasty teenager who no longer cared about her mother or her brother.  He was horrified!  As she walked away he announced with a terrified quiver and true concern in his eyes, “Mommy, it really happened!”  So I said to him, “There’s one thing that might help.  Why don’t you go up to her and give her a kiss.  Maybe that will break the spell.”  He found her in the hall outside of their bedrooms.  He reached up to her and she bent down so that he could kiss her.  She responded by hugging him and kissing him back and saying “I love you!”  With that he turned to me, wiped his brow, and said, “Whew, it worked!”

I caught the whole episode on my camcorder, but when we moved later that same year, the camcorder disappeared with that tape in it.  But I don’t need a tape to see it over and over again in my mind, it will replay forever in my memory.   Author of The Tin Box Trilogy

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