Why I Wished for My Daughter’s Awkward Phase
When my daughter was about eight years old, we went to have lunch at some local sandwich shop. These teenage girls walked in. They must have been about 14 or 15 years old. I could tell because they weren’t fully autonomous yet. They were still at the mercy of the middle-aged woman who was driving them around for food.
These girls had a certain look about them. There was disdain on their faces like nothing pleased them. It didn’t seem directed toward anything in particular. Just run of the mill discontent that the world exists and that they had to be part of it. I refer to these girls as “Ugh Girls.” You have to roll your eye after you say that or it doesn’t work. Ugh. Eye roll.
I never said anything to my daughter about the girls or what I sat there secretly wishing for her. I looked at my cute little girl with the sparkly shirt.
She was still young enough to have unruly hair and not really know or care. I hoped to God that she would go through an awkward phase. Please God, let her be a little weird, for just a little while.
I wanted my daughter to grow up joyful. I wanted her to have her youth about her. Innocence and frivolity aren’t always lengthy visitors. I hoped I would have the kind of child that people encountered and knew she was happy. They could see it. They could feel it. I didn’t want her to be an Ugh Girl.
I knew an awkward phase was inevitable. She has my genes. My awkward phase ran from age nine to age 19. For a good solid run of ten years, my most formative years, I was a complete disaster on the outside. But, on the inside, things were happening. Good things. It took a long time for those things to bubble to the surface, but they did.
Having navigated my own weirdness, I was ready for hers. I never wanted the world to be mean to her. But I know that time spent as an underdog creates resiliency. She would need it so the world didn’t drag her down.
I started preparing her early. I knew what she’d go through. It wouldn’t be easy. She’d need confidence…