April 12, 2017

Turning 13

Thirteen years ago today Mini entered our world.  A world that had previously been overrun by toy trains, dinosaurs, and digging in the dirt.  Coach and I never learned our baby's gender until the doctor held our squirming new arrival up in the air.

I remember in that moment looking for that extra appendage on Mini that I assumed would naturally show up on this  baby too.  After three boys, I expected that we'd have another.  The thought of an additional brother didn't disappoint me, BUT I was overjoyed that this one was a girl.  I was surprised by how much.

Even at my 6 week check up at the OB, the doc commented on how much Mini looked like me.  I vividly remember he followed that remark up with 'minus the chubby cheeks, of course.'  Thus her chosen name for my blog.  She is my mini-me.  No denying it.

Preparing to celebrate her 13th birthday has caused me to reflect back on the day I turned 13 - in late December 1983.

In 7th grade since my b-day landed over break, my friends decorated my locker the day school let out for Christmas.  As much as I hated having a birthday so close to Christmas, I knew I would never have to spend my birthday at school.  A small victory for the queen receiver of the combo-gift.

I scooped up the candy loot from my locker celebration and stuffed it in my brown paper lunch bag.  At home I stuck it under the upholstered chair in the corner of the family room.  My fingers were crossed that my siblings wouldn't discover my treats.  With 4 siblings, it's hard to get away without sharing everything.

I dreaded becoming a teenager for one reason. . .  the advent of getting a period was imminent   Such a hassle.  I witnessed two older sisters deal with mood swings, painful cramps, the purse necessity, and discreetly storing the products.  The worst part though was our mom's approach.

Mom felt my sisters (and I) were too uptight about periods.  She thought talking openly about it would help us cope with this unpleasant reality.  So not the case.

By openly, I mean that she spoke in code about it but she expected us not to bristle when the topic was raised.  Her code language irritated the hell out of me.  I remember vividly standing in the kitchen surrounded by Ann, Marie, and Mom.  Mom sighed and told one of my sisters, 'Did you get your little red headed friend yet?  You've been very grumpy lately.'  

I wanted to run from the room screaming.

Of course as luck would have it my first period arrived ON MY 13TH BIRTHDAY.  Talk about imminent.  Mom wasn't home, but she had already shown me where she kept the pads.  I felt lousy.  It was hard to walk upright because my abdomen felt like I had just completed a thousand sit-ups and then been punched in the gut.

I hoped no one could tell.  I intended to share the news with no one other than Mom when she came home from the store.  We had Irish dancing class that afternoon so I carefully chose somewhat baggy shorts to keep my secret 'my secret'.  There would be no celebrating.  No 'congratulations, you're a woman now'.  No thanks.  The less fanfare the better.

A while before we headed out to the south side for dancing class, my oldest sister Ann approached me in my room with a smug look on her face.  "I saw what your little friends gave you," she sneered.  Oh, no.  My sister knew.  Who else knew?

Mini's bunny b-day cake!
My head spun around and I hurled every insult in the book at her.  Ann's face transformed quickly from know-it-all to afraid-for-her-life.  Crying and screaming, I pushed her out of my room and anxiously awaited Mom's return.  My mom laid into Ann when she got home.

Turns out my sis had simply uncovered my ill-hidden brown bag in the family room.  She was completely baffled as to why I over-reacted about her candy discovery.  I mistook the 'friend' jargon for the period slang so often used by my mom and my sisters.  One more opportunity for the great sisterly divide to grow even larger.

Although Mini has inherited most of my traits, I hope that her 13th birthday isn't marred by the same dreaded teenage reality that landed unceremoniously on mine.

Did you survive a horrid teenage birthday?  Do tell - share your story in the comments.

Clip of Mini shopping for a fiddle last night.  Buying your first fiddle (after years of renting one) beats becoming a woman on your 13th b-day!

1 comment:

Geo Wilcox said...

Happy birthday, M.

Your fiddlin' makes feel like dancin' like in "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" or in a hoedown scene out of a John Ford western.