Lately, my teenage daughter has been asking me to go to the movies with her.
This may not seem like such a big deal, but it is to me. Ever since she hit 12, being seen with mom has been off limits. For a while in there I swear she wanted people to believe that she was hatched from an egg, with no parents at all. But now, things are changing. Now I'm not delusional. I know that when we go to the movies together, I pay, and that makes it more attractive. But I'm still taking this as a good sign. An even better sign is that we like the same movies. And not just the chick flick thing, either. (Although we did hit Enchanted one night). She's growing up and wanting to see and be part of things that are more political and important. In fact, I think a lot of mom's old-school ways are rubbing off on her. It was her suggestion that we see I'm Not There, and I was surprised at how many Dylan songs the kid actually knew. And then she asked me if we could go see Bob Weir and Rat Dog the next time they came to town. (I should have predicted that one, as my Grateful Dead t-shirts seem to be making their way into her room at a rapid pace). And then there was her suggestion that we watch The U.S. vs John Lennon together. Oh, and have I mentioned the collection of peace sign necklaces and earrings she's been wearing?
So where does all this come from? I think it's a combination of things. One, she's getting older (just her, not me of course). And then there's the fact that high school kids are faced with some harsh realities these days. As her male friends who are seniors hit 18, that old registration letter comes in the mail. (There's no draft, of course, but just the idea that the government wants to keep a kid on record is pretty scary). She's gone to a peace march already and will be hitting more. LIttle by little kids are becoming politicized, and I think that's a great thing.
Back in 2005, when I first wrote my novel Dawn's Early Light, which is about 24 hours in the life of a girl whose boyfriend is about to go off and join the military, my hope was that by the time it was published the war would be over, and the book would be a moot point (Sorry, Bethany, but you know that's coming from a good place). But here we are, three years later, and I still get myspace notes from kids who have read the book and can relate as family and friends are being sent off to war. And it just makes me want to scream. GET INVOLVED.
These frustrating times also makes the need for romantic comedies all the more important, because when kids are growing up in difficult times, they need as much laughter and love as they can get. So write on, my fellow rocom authors. You have no idea how many kids you're helping, just by giving them the time fantasize and enjoy.
Now, back to what I was saying before I digressed. I'm enjoying my daughter's sudden interest in the world and her desire to make it better. (A year ago the most she'd protest is if Sephora had stopped carrying her favorite eye-shadow). And the fact that she's bringing me along for her ride is really special.
But before I get too happy , I have to remember that my younger child has just hit 13, and like his sister before him, he's convinced that he was hatched from an egg and that there is no need for parents unless you need cash. How humbling!