I spent some time with a sixteen-year-old last night. She's a delightful young lady, an exceptional athlete, tall, beautiful, a fairly accomplished self-taught seamstress, and relatively articulate except for an unfortunate tendency to say "like" way too often. I've known her for about eight years, not particularly well, but well enough to be able to say that I'd be pleased if Twelve turned out as well as she has.
I had helped her design and draft a pattern for a shrug jacket to wear to the Winter Formal, and she was stopping by to return the shoes I lent her and show us photos. I offered tea, and she ended up staying for three hours. She told us about the dance, her subsequent dating adventures, and the experience of adolescence.
I am now terrified.
I was afraid before, of course, but in a much more abstract way. Somehow, the realities of hormonal disruption, personality fluctuation, and general confusion hadn't quite sunk in before. I've been blithely saying for a few months now that I'm enjoying age twelve while it lasts, that I'm making the most of every loving moment with Twelve while I still get them, that any day now she could turn into a monster ... but now these platitudes have taken on a whole new gravity.
I personally experience exactly one day of misery each month, sometimes a day and a half. I'm grouchy, I'm irritable, I'm negative about everything and my sense of smell is heightened to the point of major annoyance. We call it my Irrational Day, and I am given a wide berth, comforting foods, and a great deal of understanding by Twelve and R.
I've concluded that adolescence must be like an unending string of Irrational Days, and I'm just not sure there is enough space, comforting food, and understanding in this household.
We may need to move.