Thoughts about being 12

[NOTE: I found this tonight in my drafts folder from 2011. I wrote it when my youngest son was 12.]

I headed over to the park to make an appearance at my son’s sixth grade picnic. It’s a beautiful day, the sun is shining the wind is blowing. There is a certain perfection to days like these, when it’s just so sweet and easy.

No hurries today. I laid under the covers late this morning. The house was quiet. The breeze was blowing outside. I could only hear weekday sounds — the birds and the breeze. No lawnmowers or gas trimmers. No cars driving down the street. It was a sleepy, quiet late Thursday morning. Even the dog was sleepy, wondering what I was doing here. I would have thought he’d be more excited to have company, but instead he gave me a look of sleepy irritation and ambivalence.

Yesterday we were milling around in the storm shelter for an hour and a half during the tornado warning, trying to reach our children on their cell phones, trying to hear what the weatherman was saying, trying not get anxious, trying to stay peaceful, saying prayers, making small talk, walking in circles, sitting down, leaning against walls, smiling at each other.

But today the tornado has passed and it’s a beautiful spring day –green grass, green trees, flowers, blue blue sky.

I drove over to the picnic and watched him hang with his friends. He would only acknowledge my existence with a nearly imperceptable nod in my direction. At 12 years old, he has a love/hate relationship with mom’s attention. Sometimes he’ll eat it up; othertimes, it’s an embarrassment.

I have only one memory that I can place in my 12th year–a summer daytrip to Universal Studios. It was 1978. I remember sitting on the very large furniture that made us look 10 inches tall and I remember my dad being called up to the stage to perform a scene. He pretended he forgot his lines. Later he confided in me that he was kidding, he hadn’t forgotten his lines. Now I wonder why he would do that? Was it funnier to forget the lines? I remember, he did get a laugh.

At this time, Happy Days was very popular, and Mrs. C — Marion Ross — was signing autographs at a booth inside the park. I wanted her autograph, but I was upset about something. I can’t remember what, but I was crying. Mrs. C asked me how old I was? I told her I was 12. She said, “It’s tough being 12.”

This is one of those strange memories that sticks in your head. And all throughout this year that Luke has been 12, I have often thought to myself, “it’s tough being 12.”  How did that little line from Mrs. C attain such a place of prominence in my brain? Was it because it came from Marion Ross that I filed it in the wisdom-dispensed-by-an-actual-celebrity-mom-file in my brian? Maybe I just remember it because it’s true. It is tough being 12.

Your hormones are all haywire, body is all awkward. You’re either tall or short or skinny or fat or pimply or clumsy or weird or nervous. You’re still innocent and accepting. You still eat up the compliments and yet you are sarcastic and just a little bit jaded. You try so hard to look cool like you don’t care, but you do care. I love this age, now that I don’t have to be it.


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