Monday, February 18, 2008


Em is so charmingly poised between childhood and adolescence that I wish it was possible to freeze-frame her in time so that I can later show her how funny and sweet and silly she is, and yet how you can see the shadows of sulky and confused and sad shifting right beneath the surface. So that maybe she'll be able to understand and not be scared by what is to come.

Or maybe I'd like to do that so that *I* will be able to understand and not be scared by what is to come.

It used to be so easy to tell funny Em stories. She's no less funny now, and no less smart and profound, but it's not easy to tell stories to show that. Now we have conversations, not one-two-punch quips. And most of the humor is of the 'you had to be there' variety.

For instance, you wouldn't find the conversation I had with her on the way home from a friend's house the other day as hilarious as I did; you wouldn't think it was hysterical when she was telling me all about how "adorable" the friend's younger sister, S, was, how S was playing this "cute" game with her dolls, and it was so "sweet" and "funny." You wouldn't have had to bite the inside of your lip to keep from laughing at her when she cooed about S...unless, of course, you knew, as I do, that one of Em's best friends, J, is the same age and in the same grade as the younger sister, and is in fact one of S's best friends as well. And you might still not have found it as funny as I did if you didn't realize that Em and J spend all their time together playing these unbelievably elaborate games with their manymanymany American Girl dolls, games complete with shoe-box-built furniture, birthday parties and goodie bags, emails that go back and forth between Em and J about how one or the other of their babies are feeling/sleeping/eating these days. Then, maybe you would have found it funny to hear Em talk condescendingly about how S was pretending to go grocery shopping with her dolls, as if S were a silly little play-acting toddler. Or maybe not.

All I know is that Em herself didn't laugh when I finally broke down, unable to keep from pointing out the dichotomy, and asked her why it was that she talked about S as if she was a baby, while she plays with J all the time as if they were the same age.

"It's different," she said, looking at me grumpily. "S is so cute and little, and J is taller than me."

See what I mean? That isn't funny at all, on paper. And yet I had tears in my eyes from laughing so hard. I guess you just had to be there.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

ah yes, I can see you starting down that looooong road to adolescence. When you no longer get to share your take on how funny certain things are without risking alienating the very child you have worked so hard to befriend, because her ego is both supersized and completely fragile. Instead, you get to share your opinion (if you are lucky enough to be asked) on whether "hooking up" with three guys in one night is slutty or not. (no, not my daughter, but her friend who I always thought of as "the good girl.") And that's after you clear up the definition of hooking up, which apparently ranges from kissing to oral sex to intercourse, and you are supposed to somehow know which definition applies in each context. And in the next minute, you are on the couch watching Harry Potter movies together, while you secretly wonder how you will survive it, and are inundated with memories of your own hellish teenage years to boot. Enjoy each and every girl-child minute....