The real meat of the teen years, ages 14 to 17, are not for the weary. You’ve probably heard the nightmare stories of once agreeable and joyful children morphing into mouthy and stubborn creatures of fury, testing your patience and having you begging to have the toddler years back. But before all the teen angst comes crashing into your home, wreaking havoc and crushing your parenting soul, something magical happens — age 13.
Age 13 hits that spot of a fleeting childhood greeting young adulthood. It gives you something for one year that is truly enchanting — a combination little kid and big kid all wrapped into one glorious kid who will still hug you back (most of the time).
This is 13.
13 is round pudgy little boy faces slightly squaring off around the jawline, and squishy cheeks rising high toward temples, producing a young lady’s first cheekbones.
13 doesn’t want you to be volunteering at their school anymore, but then firmly asks you why you weren’t at their last field trip.
13 is the beginning of closed bedroom doors, closed bathroom doors, and “Mom, you can’t just walk in here anymore” kind of conversations.
13 is suddenly caring about clothes, labels, and the right kind of sneakers.
13 begs to go to PG-13 movies, doesn’t want to watch “those stupid Disney shows anymore,” but sees the commercial for the new Cars movies and screams, “I can’t wait!”
13 knows what he likes and what he doesn’t like, has quit sports he knows he’s just not very good at, and is starting to realize it’s more fun doing things that make him happy versus making a friend happy.
By now, 13 has been bullied, and has been the bully-er, and knows he doesn’t want to be either, and needs to stand up to one and stand up for the other.
13 wants to stay up as late as possible, but still falls asleep on the couch at 10 p.m.
13 still wants you to hide Easter eggs, go trick-or-treating, and fake believes in Santa Claus because he knows it’s the right thing to do.
13 wakes up one day and says he needs deodorant, cologne spray, hair gel, and whitening toothpaste. And then can you take him out for ice cream?
13 doesn’t want you to see his texts, follow him on Instagram, or see his search history. Sorry 13, but that’s my job.
13 bursts into tears at the drop off a hat and cannot tell you exactly why they are crying. Five minutes later, they are fine. Five minutes after that, they are crying again. Repeat cycle. 13 needs a big supply of tissues.
13 skips breakfast, doesn’t want fruit snacks in his lunch anymore, and eats three dinners.
13 can make dinner for the whole family. Can I get an AMEN?
13 no longer wants to grow up to be an NFL quarterback, but talks about doing something where he “can help people.” Can I get another AMEN?
13 will bring you to your knees, make you leap for joy, then bring you right back to your knees again. They’re fickle like that.
13 wants to hug you tight, just not in front of anyone else.
13 won’t say two words to you for hours, but get him in the car alone and he won’t stop talking.
13 is fearlessness with a conscious, rational happiness and childhood wonder mixed with a healthy dose of sarcasm.
13 is awesome. And thank goodness because 14, 15, 16, and 17? That shit will suck the last morsel of life out of you.