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Wednesday was Kelsea’s birthday. She’s 14 now. As she puts it, she’s now officially a teenager – 13 was just a warm-up year. She didn’t want to make a big deal out of her birthday, so it was just a few gifts and dinner with Pat and me. And of course, lots of facebook greetings.
I remember splotches of my childhood – probably more splotches than most people do. But my memories of 14 and up are pretty continuous. God, I was a pain in the ass at 14. That was the year that I was incredibly embarassed to be a part of my own family. I just wanted to be grown up and independent. We took a train across Canada that summer and I remember my Mother blocking some twenty-something Frenchman who was trying to flirt with me. She was having none of that. And I remember saying to a boy that I met on the trip, who was a year older than me, that “Things change when you’re 15.” Looking back, I would say that’s true.
Kelsea seems much more comfortable in her skin at 14 than I did. While her dreams and plans change with expected regularity, she seems grounded. (Of course, my dreams and plans change with alarming regularity now at 48, and I don’t wish that on anyone.) She’s well-liked. She stands up for herself, her friends, and those who don’t have a voice of their own (such as the planet Pluto – and yes, I said PLANET.) She is curious – among her few birthday presents were, at her request, Charles Darwin’s Origins of the Species and Richard Dawkins’ The God Dilemma. Seriously. I haven’t even read these books, but she’s trying to organize her opinions about God. More power to her.
She’s funny and compassionate. She’s relatively reasonable for a teenager as long as she’s treated with respect. She does get mad about things, and when she does, steam comes out of her ears. She’s your average level of teenage grumpy. She hates getting up in the morning and she hates being given “busywork” in the form of homework, especially when it’s a topic she will never need or use and has no pertinence in any vision of daily life.
In short, she’s awesome and the best thing in my life. I hope she has a spectacular year.