I can’t believe I’ve been writing in this blog long enough to have posted on three of my daughter’s birthdays, the day she turned 10, last year when she turned 11, and today, her 12th birthday. We had a fun pre-birthday celebration yesterday that included breakfast at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (site of the first Academy Awards), some birthday shopping, and later High Tea and a movie. In what has to be symbolic of that in-between age she now occupies, our shopping excursion included picking out a stuffed animal at Build-a-Bear followed by a visit to Victoria’s Secret. Oy. They should give special psychological training to the Victoria’s Secret employees on how to deal with the deer-in-the-headlights fathers who are dragged into the store by their rapidly changing pre-teens. I usually veto any suggestive phrases on my daughter’s clothing but when we got home I saw that we had purchased one set of underwear with “Oh La La!” written across the butt. Oh well, it’s not like anyone’s going to see it…I hope. (Note to 12-year-old girls who are are experiencing the wonders of prepubescence: if you do drag your father into an underwear store, you might want to ask him not to blog about it!)
Twelve is definitely a major turning point in the lives of children. I remember that on my 12th birthday an Alaska Airlines jet crashed into a mountain outside of Juneau, killing all 111 people on board. Such tragedies seemed extremely rare back then and I recall wondering what it boded for my upcoming year. (12-year-olds are nothing if not self-centered. Yes, over a hundred people died but what about ME?!) I’m confident that Leah will have many more wonderful memories of being 12 than I do. My 12th year was marked by the continuing war between my parents (they had gotten divorced in early 1971 but the fun was far from over), the escalation of violence in Vietnam, and the Watergate break-in. Okay, there were probably good things that happened that year, too, but they don’t immediately come to mind.
Leah is in far better emotional shape than I was back then although this time of life brings with it a fair amount of crazy mood swings and boundary testing no matter how well balanced you are. As a parent, it is exciting and awe-inspiring to watch my daughter mature into such a wonderful and caring young woman, even as I simultaneously grieve the child that is no more.
Happy Birthday to one of the most loving, creative, interesting, and talented people I know.
Take a bow, Leah!