Girl World

Today I pulled up to X High School to pick up a certain 14 year old for coffee. Over the years she has been a lot of things in my life. We began in an organized mentoring relationship. Now, it is safe to say, she is my friend.

I try to be cool. And listen. And let her order the extra big size of whatever snack we happen to devour. I am kind of like a backwards grandparent.

We have gone ice skating, gone to the library, watched dozens of movies, visited craft stores and even traveled together. We used to see each other weekly . . . and then after a few years, bi-weekly. Now a few months can pass between our times together.

But the beginning of her high school years has caused me to pray for her in a way I never have. I am scared for her. High school is tough. I am reading "Queen Bees and Wannabes" to help me understand what she might be going through. It makes me even more scared for her. As I read about the different roles girls take on to survive this time, I can identify where she fits. And I hate it for her. So I pray for her to meet Christian women at school who see beyond her attempt to look Goth without being Goth because it is not cool to fit into any certain group. She wants nothing more than to be completely unique.

In addition to all of this, she drinks coffee. When did children start drinking coffee? This, to me, is the major distinction between my generation and the one charging up behind me. With a mere 15 year age gap, I would have normally considered her to be in my generation. In ten more years we be peers. It would not be unusual for us to be co-workers or neighbors or even mommies that attend the same Gymborie with our children. But currently, she is 14 years old and her caffeine exposure causes me to think we might be living in separate universes.

A few things have change since she was 9 years old. I used to know where to pick her up at school. First the elementary school and then the middle school. We had a spot. We had a plan. But this high school thing has thrown me for a loop. I missed the turn off for the school but I spied the football stadium so I just started driving the opposite direction of the exodus of cars that were being driven home by children who can't decide if they want to have sex or get out their old Barbie dolls. I felt old. I pulled up to the school but knew I was in the wrong place so I called the 14 year old.

"Where are you?"

Okay, when did teenagers start getting cell phones? I did not have a cell phone until I was 25! And that was only because I was living in the home of an older couple who didn't really want me using their phone.

And who taught this kid to answer an adult's call this way? Wasn't she nine years old just five minutes ago? She used to answer all of my calls with a quizzical "Hellllooooo?" Once I identified myself, her voice rose two octaves and I received an elated "HIIIIIIIII!!!!!!" She spoke to me with anticipation and appreciation.

I think this has changed since the last time I called her. Which would have been two weeks ago. How did she go from bated breath to irritation and entitlement in two weeks?

So she saunters over to my car. I poked my head out and waved. She ducked her head and picked up her pace before sliding into the front seat. I try to be cool. It is hard. I am not cool. Not in a "I could tolerate being seen in public in front of my friends with you" sort of way. I am cool in a "I wear groovy skirts from Europe and have a garden nome in my shower because it is funny and watch documentaries just because I want to and I have a stack of scrapbooking paper in the trunk of my car just in case" sort of way.

The teenager is secured in the car. She is no longer interested in coffee, but smoothies. Apparently the only decent coffee anymore is at her new high school . . . and she has already had enough today.

"Can I use your cell phone to text this girl? She wants to know if I like this boy and I need to tell her what I want her to tell him! But I am not allowed to text from my phone."

"Um. Sure. Yeah. (then, trying to be cool) Sounds like a real teen emergency, huh? (told you I am not cool)."

But, she is still young enough to give me a break every once in a while.

"Yeah! It totally is!"

"Would your mom be okay with it?"

"Yeah, I just can't text on my phone because it is expensive."

Right, because in teen brain land, it doesn't cost a penny on MY phone.

Five minutes later . . .

"HI!!! How are you?"

She looks at me oddly.

"Well, we have not actually talked or said hi yet. Hi!"

Laughing. "Oh, hi! I bet you are dying to know about this boy that likes me."

Boy. Boy? Oh yeah, the whole reason for the text. Get excited.

"Oh yeah!! Tell me about this!"

From here on out, it was a horserace. Only, I realized, I was not supposed to talk. At all. No commentary, feedback, or even active listening . . . simply put, saying back what she just said. None of it.

So I listened. And tired not to laugh. And kept my opinions about her choices in books, boys, and clothes . . . and just about everything else . . . to myself. Mostly.

Then we went to the book store. I thought we would do the adult tandem bookstore thing but once I finished up at my section and joined her in the Young Adult section, I realized I was missing out on prime teen talk time. Next thing I know I am being handed a book about every 90 seconds followed by a quick synopsis and commentary. We even talked about "doing it".


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Blogger Kelli Gambee said...

Rosalind Wiseman was the speaker at our parenting fair 2 years ago. It was interesting listening to her take on girls. Since I only have boys...I wasn't as tuned in as I may have otherwise been.

Have you seen the movie Mean Girls?

Oh, a peak into the life of a teenage girl. Reading your entry made me feel all queasy and sick to my stomach...pretty much like I did all of my high school years. I used to wonder why people said they would never go back...now, as an adult... I like so, totally know!

8:24 PM, September 06, 2006  
Blogger Cara said...

i have not just seen mean girls . . . i own it.
i actually developed a curiculm three years ago called Female Education and Empowerment. it is probably fairly similar to what she uses in the classroom. would love to have her job.

and no, i would NEVER want to relive high school.

9:17 PM, September 06, 2006  
Blogger Sherri Whiteford said...

Remind me about this book in a few years. Eeeek!

11:52 AM, September 07, 2006  
Blogger Cara said...

sherri. i would honestly recommend reading this book when alison is getting ready to go into the 5th grade! Weisman begins adressing 6th graders, but i think it starts even earlier.

9:34 AM, September 13, 2006  

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