Evelyn, 4 days before her birthday: “Only 4 days left of being a kid!”
Nice try, but 13 is still a kid.
Me: “Let me see the picture.” Me: “Kissy lips? KISSY LIPS??” Evelyn, exasperated: “That’s how you take a selfie!”
Alex: “Are dragons real?” Sara: “What do you think?” Alex: “I don’t know.” Me: “Well, I think people saw dinosaur bones and imagined dragons.” Alex: “Well I’m thinking of REAL dragons, not maaaagical dragons!”
Alex: “What did that sign say?” Sara: “Deaf.” Alex: “What does deaf mean?” Sara: “Can’t hear.” Alex: “What does deaf mean!?” Sara: “Can’t hear.” Alex: “What does deaf mean?!!!!!” Sara: “Can’t hear. Alex: “WHAT DOES DEAF MEAN?!?!” Sara: “Evie, can you tell him what it means?” Evelyn: “It means you can’t hear.” Alex: “OHHHHH!”
As a person who was thirteen once, surely, I have advice to give: Don’t invite strangers when you’re alone. Always carry a quarter so you can call home. Be home by dark if you must roam. Use proper etiquette when answering the house phone.
Alas, as a once-thirteen-years-old (It’s been a bit since ’93) The world’s moved on, it’s not the same So my advice is rusty.
I must therefore learn what it is to be thirteen today by watching you, my daughter dear. After careful observation I have to say, A certain view appears:
To be thirteen is Hunger Games discussions ‘round the clock, And using Zoom in closets so your friends and you can talk, And making plans and hopes and dreams and D&D campaigns, And helping little brothers with cooking, books, and games, And singing songs, even after we’ve asked you to stop (twice), And being a responsible PTA mom, always ready with advice, And ears that reject earrings, unless you wear them back to front. All these things and more, in fact I’ll just be blunt: Pretty and strong, successful and kind, good at everything you do, A singer, dancer, book-worm, and perfectioniser too.
And now at last there comes the day, Your count is down to zero. You’re finally a teenager – hooray! Love, your big old daddy-weirdo.
Sometimes the heroic thing is not what you do, but what you choose not to do.
So tonight I was putting the kids to bed, and while they were getting ready, I was working on laundry. I came back and tucked Ollie in, and Evelyn was in the bathroom. So I did what anybody would do in that situation: I sprinted into her room and dove behind her bed, the better to jump-scare her.
Now, this all happened in a split second, so I didn’t really have time to formulate a plan: when you see an opportunity, you have to seize it! As I crouched there, hiding, I vaguely thought maybe I would wait until she got into bed and then reach up under her covers and grab her leg.
Except the minute she came in the room and tentatively called, “Daddy…?” I realized I had made a terrible mistake. Grabbing her leg after she was in bed would be TERRIFYING! What was I thinking? Who would even do that?? She would never be able to sleep again! I was hiding on the side where the closet is, which is already terrifying enough on its own; even to jump out and say, “boo!” would probably scar her for life.
She was already coming into the room, and now I was trapped. It was getting to the point that if I moved, or even so much as breathed, it was going to be just as scary. I wracked my brain for any kind of non-threatening way to notify her of my presence, crouched on the other side of her bed. Not even to explain why I was there — that train had left the station — but even to just get over the initial, “Hey, it’s me crouching over here on the side of your bed trying to scare you, not some axe murderer or monster or anything!”
And apparently what my brain came up with was to make a high-pitched, “merp!” (Evelyn later said, “Were you trying to make a guinea pig noise??”)
And it was so ridiculous and non-threatening that it totally worked, and we both had a good laugh over it, and nobody peed their pants, and nobody got scarred for life, so basically I am a hero who single-handedly saved my daughter from a lifetime of PTSD and therapy YOU’RE WELCOME EVELYN.
Evelyn and Oliver had their tap recital over the weekend, the second for Evelyn and the first for Oliver. They did great! In fact, as a special surprise, Evelyn received an award from the dance school for “hardest worker”! It was a total surprise for all of us, including Evelyn. (In retrospect, it said her name in the program, but we hadn’t read that far.)
I am so proud of them, especially Oliver because he adamantly does not like to perform and he worked *so hard* on this, especially going into the final week.
So, without further ado:
(In case you just can’t get enough, last year’s video can be found here.)
At Evelyn’s school there is a yearly talent showcase. This isn’t one of those “everybody gets a participation trophy” kind of things; this talent showcase is no joke, man. There are more kids than slots, so you’ve got to try out, and it is cut throat.
So naturally, Evelyn needs to be on that stage like a man needs to breathe.
She knew she wouldn’t cut it with piano, after all this show is already chock full of kids playing Tchaikovsky on the violin from memory, so she was forced to come up with a different plan. Evelyn being Evelyn, she started calculating: what was most likely to get her a spot on the stage? Music? Covered. Dancing? Yawners.
Evelyn’s answer? Magic.
Now, long time readers of the blog know that I tend to…collect hobbies. But what you might not realize is that, one of the very first hobbies I ever really got into, was magic. Don’t get me wrong, I was never tremendously *good* at it, but I did attack it with my usual penchant for intense research: buying various tricks, reading magic histories, practicing sleight of hand in front of a mirror. That sort of thing.
Needless to say, I was pretty thrilled with her choice!
Despite the fact that she hasn’t embraced magic the way I had all those years ago, I’d like to think I sent her down this road to begin with. I was so happy to practice with her and give her some tips. And, as with everything else Evelyn does, she took to it like a fish to water, practicing repeatedly until she had it down just perfect.
The main thing I tried to stress to her was that she needed to get good at “patter“.
Me: “Have you ever seen the other kids do magic tricks? What do they do when they’re doing the trick.”
Evelyn: “They just stand there, quietly.”
Nuh uh, not for my girl. I told her she had to tell a story. I told her she was performing, and was there to entertain. I told her any fool could do a trick, but the difference between a good magician and a bad magician was stage presence.