When you have a baby, you always want to try to record or remember those wonderful milestones. Is the baby cooing? First smile? Catch it in a picture and post it on your social media of choice. You wait for signs of crawling and for your baby to sit up. Then you rush to call Grandma/Abuelita/Nana/the local news channel. You want to tell everyone about those first few steps—first around a coffee table and then a few teetering, independent lurches. First word? Make sure to write it down in the baby book. Grandparents will eat up all the details. Those are the cute first milestones.
Later, you can make your childless friends squirm when you announce that your little one has mastered #2 in the toilet. Or proudly announce that your child has moved to a “big kid” bed. Even later, you breathe a sigh of relief when your child can buckle/unbuckle his seat belt and get dressed all by himself. The first day of school is sure to bring some smiles, celebration, and tears. My children smiled and celebrated. I shed tears.
My son and daughter went through all these milestones, and my husband and I were relatively unscathed by it all. Sure, we might have lost a few friends in the process. But we couldn’t stop ourselves from discussing how incredibly gifted our son was to have finally mastered the zipper. We spent part of our retirement savings to get the right shoes for those first steps. Many a tear was shed when security blankets were either finally lost or “lost.” Several glasses of wine were drunk as we lamented whether our children were reaching those milestones at the “normal” time.
We heard, of course, of those OTHER teenage milestones. We considered ourselves “safe” for a few years, as my oldest, my son, recently became an official teenager and still shows no signs of molting into a teen monster yet. My husband and I knew we would have to brace ourselves for mood swings, shaving issues, questionable hair, and some, um, murky computer sites. But we figured we still had a few years of coasting. WRONG!
Nothing had prepared us for the peek into the disturbing preteen girl milestones to come.
My daughter is seven. We were shopping for shoes not long ago, and I checked out the cute sandals and Hello Kitty sneakers. She looked past these and asked me if she could have heels. Heels? What? She rattled off five reasons why she should have them and few more on how good she would look in them. One of those was how great her legs would look in heels. This is from the daughter of someone who rarely wears heels.
My husband came home the other day from a shopping trip with my daughter to pick up bread and milk with that look on his face that I know so well. “You are never going to believe what your daughter asked me,” he said. I could tell that it was going to be a good one. “She told me she needed a BRA. She asked ME to buy her one.” I tried to be as appalled as he was, but I couldn’t contain my laughter when he said that a woman had overheard their conversation and had turned to look at them with a huge grin on her face. My husband mumbled something like, “This girl is going to kill me.”
My daughter has asked me why I don’t have a tattoo and when can she get one. Apparently, she even has ideas on what her “first” tattoo will be. I didn’t dare ask where these tattoos are to be placed. This is only the beginning. She has also told me that she would like to dye her hair a “pretty color,” like purple. Right now, my tactic is to tell her about how painful tattoos are and that school may not allow purple hair. She is usually quiet and just listens to me, but I’m not sure she is buying my propaganda. She has also mentioned that she has plans for her first apartment to be in Hawaii with some friends. She has never been to Hawaii, so I casually mentioned that typhoons have been a problem there. I’m waiting for her to ask for more information, but right now I might have the upper hand.
For now, I’m keeping these conversations secret from my husband because I value the fact that his heart beats normally. He is more or less blissfully unaware of the extent of the danger we are up against.
I fear for my husband’s and my own sanity as we approach those teenage milestones. If only they could be as easy as potty training or as fun as teething.