May is a busy month in our family, as we celebrate Mother’s Day, as well as many birthdays. It’s also close to the end of the school year for our daughter (school usually ends the first week of June, mid-week), so the chaos of final school projects/field trips/recitals/etc. hits with full force.
Saturday our daughter turned 13. Yes, she’s officially a teenager (although she’s been practicing for a while). My parent joke for the last six months has been “Who will I wake up this morning–sweet angel girl or spawn of Satan?” In all seriousness, this kid rocks (I’m a little biased, perhaps). She tough and sweet and vibrant and smart.
But, she’s tween just turned teen. For those who haven’t experienced this joy, let me explain. You see, this is when the hormones begin their journey through that growing brain and body in earnest. The hormones have teased, peeked, hidden, and generally been lurking for a while, but all of sudden you realize that the hormone flood gates have opened, and we’d all best hold on tight to survive the ride.
There’s a lot of fun that comes with this age. Some days, daughter and I have these conversations that are just deeper, richer, and more satisfying then I can describe. Some days she bellows from the second floor because she can’t find her sock. (I’m not kidding.) She’ll come to snuggle, and I realize just how much her physical self is changing, how far from the little girl she’s grown. She’ll stand beside me, stretching to be taller (I’ve got a last 32nd of an inch advantage that I’m clinging to by good posture alone, I think), or she’ll give me this look, and I feel like there’s a 1,000 year old soul staring out from her eyes.
Then she stomps out of the room when we have the audacity to ask her to feed the dog, she can’t remember where she left her homework assignment, and she questions the importance of actually wearing a different shirt each day of the weekend. It’s a wild ride, for sure.
While I’m (mostly) enjoying this journey as a parent, I’m definitely enjoying it as a writer. Daughter’s growing maturity, constant change, and breadth of emotion remind me that my characters have to experience these things, too. If they’re flat, one-dimensional, and unchanging, they’ll be very, very boring. That would be bad for readers, and it’s not much fun for the writer either. So, when I’m at my wit’s end, I find myself jotting notes in my notebook, trying to capture the ebbs and flows, the peaks and valleys of her experience as a tween to teenager. Remembering, capturing the breadth of emotions, responses, and frustrations adds to much to my writing (and my writing keeps me sane, see how it all comes together!?). My characters will be fuller and more interesting, thanks in large part to our blossoming teenager.
But, let’s not tell her that just yet, okay?