For my U.S. friends, I hope you had a fantastic 4th! I spent part of my day off helping my hubby put together our new grill. Note to self: standing out in the July sun, sans sunscreen, can cause a sunburn on the back of your neck. Otherwise, it was a great time!
After eating dinner last night, the family decided to have a special edition of “Friday Night Fun-Box.” The fun-box is something my daughter invented when she was eight to ensure the family spent time together on Friday nights. She covered a shoe box with purple duct tape, decorated it with silver glitter glue and announced that we would each put suggestions for family activities on a slip of paper and submit it to the fun-box. On Fridays, after dinner, we’d draw to see which activity we had. We’ve been doing this nearly every Friday night for the last eighteen months. With a few exceptions, we have to do whatever comes up, whether that’s a family round of Rock Band, watching a Star Wars movie that my son submitted, or playing Uno.
For our Fourth, we found the fun-box stuffed full of “play Halo” notes. My 12-year-old’s been busy. We had to throw out all his illegal ballots, of course, and realized the fun-box was nearly empty. Taking matters into his own hands, my husband chose watching Monsters vs. Aliens as our activity. For the first time in a while, everyone was completely engrossed in a movie. Lately, our tweener has been obsessed with getting to watch PG-13 movies now that we’ve broadened what’s allowed (BTW — Raiders of the Lost Ark was “awesome” and “hilarious.” Nice to know the classics are still a hit. LOL…and I feel old.) Anyway, what was interesting is how many of the “adult jokes” the kids got this time while watching Monsters vs. Aliens. That’s part of what I love about the sophistication of some of the new animated films. They manage “over the head” humor for adults that the kids never see. Except my kids got the jokes.
This proved a suspicion I’ve had for a while: my kids aren’t “kids” anymore.
My son grew 9 inches in the last 16 months. He’s only 1/2 inch shorter than me and the exact same weight. When I picked him up from camp two weeks ago, he ran to give me a hug and nearly knocked me over, not realizing his own strength relative to mine. That was an eye-opener: my kid is my size. In six months, he’ll be taller.
My daughter (she’s nearly 10) decided to dance to the end credits of the movie last night and surprised my husband and me by throwing in a few ballet moves and twists and turns. When did she become so graceful and coordinated? She also asked me for a purse last week. And when she’d get to start wearing makeup. When I said, “not until you’re 13,” I got a dose of the pouts. I gave her a purse, though. That took out some of the sting.
No matter how much it stuns me, these changes are why I love to write YA. Even as I’m struggling to grasp the fact that my children are gradually going to turn into adults under my care, I also see the potential this period has. The teen years can be painful, awkward and just plain weird. But they’re also an amazing time of discovery and growth–physical, intellectual and emotional. That emotional chaos, the new understanding of BIG concepts…all of it makes for deep, rich mine in which to search for stories.
What about you? Is there a particular time of life you like to write/read about? Is there a time you never want to visit again?