Much to her chagrin, my daughter doesn’t have a cell phone (unbelievably, I appear to be the sole holdout among the parents of rising sixth-graders) and isn’t allowed on social media. She’s perpetually frustrated by my rules about which PG-13 movies she can see and what’s appropriate to wear to school. She’s 11. I tell her there is so much time for all that and not enough time left to just be a kid.
Still, she’s trying to stretch her wings a bit, and I want to let her. I took her to my salon last summer for bright red highlights, she’s allowed to stay home alone now, and she has mostly free reign over which books she can read. So when she asked to download Pinterest, despite my social media ban, I said yes, as long as I could follow her.
I’m so glad I did. As she gets older, I’m painfully aware that I only see a small part of who she’s becoming. Sure, I get peeks into her life outside our house once in a while, but following her on Pinterest has taught me a few things about her that I didn’t know.
1. She Has a Great Sense of Style
When she was a baby, I spent a fortune dressing her in Janie and Jack, Naartjie and Mini Boden. Until the age of 6, she refused to wear pants or shorts and loved nothing more than a twirly tutu.
In first grade, she did a complete 180. It was jeans or nothing. She still consented to cute tops and sweaters, and in the summers, I could entice her with a sundress or two.
Now, she’d prefer to wear shorts and tees all year long, preferably made from some sort of athletic fabric. Dresses and skirts? For weddings and recitals only. Lately we argue about leggings. All the girls in her grade wear them to school, but I object: “Do you want to look like you just came from yoga?”
As she’s grown to nearly my height, I’ve not-so-secretly wondered if she’d ever be interested enough in clothes to want to borrow any of mine (or collect any steal-worthy items of her own). On Pinterest, I see her from a different angle. She fills her boards with fancy nail art and cool hair designs. She apparently wants earrings shaped like tiny jars of Nutella (who wouldn’t?). She pins glam bedrooms, artsy sculptures and chic crafts.
She’s always had an artistic streak, and I love seeing it in its full glory. Now if she’d only apply it to clothes.
2. She’s More Sophisticated Than I Like to Think…
I’m not in denial. I know she’s growing up, but the girl I see at home is more interested in adding to her collection of small stuffed animals with oversized eyes than she is in boys or music.
I catch glimpses of the teenager she might become as she dances with her friends at a birthday party or texts incessantly on her iPod Touch. Yet she still crawls into my bed every morning, lays her head next to mine and asks for her morning hug.
On Pinterest, she has a whole board devoted to “Teenager Posts” with quotes like “Teenager Post #14962: Do you ever just get a random burst of motivation to clean your room, write a novel, paint a masterpiece or read a book at 3 a.m.?” This is a kid who sleeps through anything, so I’m doubtful that even the most compelling inspiration could wake her, but I like to imagine it could. Even more, I love that she imagines it might.
3. …But Maybe Not as Sophisticated as She Wants Me to Think
Here’s another of her teenager pins: “Teenager Post #2711: Hearing noises when home alone and just accepting that you’re going to die.” She campaigned for months to be allowed to stay home while I haul her little brother to endless gymnastics practices. But now I wonder if she’s not as brave as she thought she was.
4. She Loves the Same Movies I Do
Her movie board is full of The Avengers and its prequels and sequels, which she really, really loves. I knew that. She has not one, but two of Build-A-Bear’s Avenger-themed stuffed animals and is counting the days until the next Marvel film is released. But I was surprised to see she’s also pinned Pitch Perfect and Legally Blonde and their sequels. I’m not such a fan of Thor and friends, but the other movies she’s pinned are all ones I introduced to her and that we laughed through together.
Our common interests have spread to books, too. We’ve started reading the same titles so we can talk about them. I love connecting with her in a different way and seeing a story from her perspective. We’ve just picked our next two novels—one classic, one contemporary—to tackle over our beach trip. It’s like our own private two-person book club.
5. She’s Pretty Funny
She’s more likely to groan at my jokes than crack her own, so I love seeing her sense of humor come alive on Pinterest. As much as she’d hate to admit it, it turns out we laugh at a lot of the same things: Grumpy Cat, silly Harry Potter memes, “You Had One Job” posts and misguided texts.
As we head into the teen years, I expect we’ll have our share of challenging times. But if we can both laugh at Buzzfeed posts of “28 Cats Having a Way Worse Day Than You,” I think we’ll get through them.