I’m sure this will come as no big surprise to anyone, but I’ve never been a girl.
For most of my life, that hasn’t really been a problem, but these days, it’s another story. These days, there are plenty of times when I’d give anything to have some insight into a girl’s life — particularly a beautiful, talented, compassionate preteen. One who dances all day and loves to wear bright colors. One with whom I share a house, and a last name, and the slightly upward curve of a nose in profile.
Truth be told, I’m not certain that I would actually enjoy such insight. After all, as far as I can tell, this particular girl’s life seems to be punctuated with a fair bit of intrigue and drama and emotional turmoil, some of which gets relayed to her parents, often accompanied by sobs. Or laughter. I never know which to expect.
The girl-turned-woman to whom I am married, who has plenty of experience as a girl, tells me that there is nothing unusual about all of this, that I’m just getting a glimpse into a pretty typical world for girls of my daughter’s age. <shudder>
Sometimes, after I’ve delivered what I believe to be a particularly sound pearl of fatherly wisdom, my daughter will look up at me — often with tears welling up in her eyes — and say, “You just don’t understand, Dad.” I’ll turn to my wife for backup, only to find her looking at me with her eyebrows slightly raised, head tilted to one side, nodding — almost imperceptibly, but nodding nonetheless. She’s right, this gesture says to me.
It’s true. I don’t understand. Perhaps I never will. Some of this may be a gender thing, I’m sure, but I think there’s more to it than that. As they pass into teenhood, my children — once wholly scrutable — are becoming more and more inscrutable. My parental mind meld skills just don’t function as they used to. It’s almost as if the teenage brain is enshrouded in some sort of force field that prohibits me from gleaning even the slightest idea of what’s truly going on in there.
Those of you with kids at this age (or beyond) know exactly what I’m talking about. Those of you with younger kids will know soon enough.
Still, they ARE my kids and I’ll continue to do what I can — even though there are days when I feel particularly ill-equipped to do much at all. My guess is that that is as frustrating for them as it is for me. The problem is really pretty simple though.
They just don’t understand.