Longing for Change
Being twelve was feeling in between. An odd feeling really! There was the optimism of what lay ahead – thirteen and the teenage years. And there was the melancholy of having left behind the days when age didn’t seem to matter.
At ten, there never lurked any confusion about age – except to look forward to the birthday party with friends. It didn’t matter if she were a girl or a boy. Her mates accepted her for who she was. Their mate. She could climb trees with them and not think about her underwear showing when she hung upside down. She didn’t mind that boys liked to compete with each other about how far they could spit or how loud they could fart. It was all in fun. No judgement. No desire to outdo. No longing to be different. She didn’t mind her Mom arranging tea parties in the secret garden or tussling her hair when she said good bye each morning, heading off to school.
At twelve, however, everything was baffling – and bothersome. While her boy mates carried on doing the stuff they had always done, girl friends were becoming giggly and cliquey and even standoffish if she didn’t conform. Like wearing makeup! That was something she had played with when she was ten, checking out Mom’s drawer of lipsticks – all of similar shades of rust. Rust had been her chosen colour. Mom had often lamented that she never could find the exact shade.
She knew that at twelve, she wasn’t supposed to pinch her mother’s lipstick. If she didn’t want to be shunned by her worldly girlfriends, she was supposed to find her own colour – with their help. They had scrounged through makeup counters, urging her to pinch this colour or that, without getting caught.
Her Mom now had many rules – including rules about modesty. She wasn’t permitted to leave the house unless her school uniform hung just below her knees, the way it was intended.
Except – to be in with the in-crowd, she had to hoist her skirt high above her knees, without showing underwear.
There was an underwear trauma. She came home one day and found it a messy red. Her Mom had been supportive then. She had a kit ready and the advice that went with it – that sometimes her hormones would act up but that was alright. She had reached her womanhood!
But she already knew about this problem. Her new best friend Brenda had an older sister who had explained the whole nasty to them. She hadn’t called it reaching womanhood though – she called it the monthly curse that would last forever. There would be cramps and sometimes even embarrassment and definitely it was important to miss gym class.
Speaking of gym class, what was good about this latest catastrophe was she could finally fling back the words modesty and womanhood at her Mom. She could convince her to shop for a bra. Without it, her gnarled, brown one-piece gym uniform was going to burst all its buttons revealing her non-discreet boobs.
True to her Mom’s earlier advice, she sometimes recognized her changing hormones. She was surprised that she wanted to find out more about the boys whom Brenda’s sister knew. She made a point of walking way out of her way to go past their lockers – hoping they would notice her. When they didn’t, she would feel herself going into a quiet funk or sometimes a silent rage.
Also, nothing that her Mom of Dad said made sense anymore. Everything about them could be summed up with one simple word. Stupid. How could she have been born to such imbeciles. She began to scrutinize everything about them: their eye and hair colour, their skin tone, the size of their lips and even the shape of their ears. She came to the conclusion that nothing remotely resembled her features. The only possible answer was obvious. She had been adopted. She had confronted her parents. They had smiled, that annoying smile which is meant to appease but rather it infuriates. She needed proof. So, they produced her birth certificate. She had to own up she was legitimately theirs.
Perhaps, all would be different, when she finally passed on from this horrid in between age of twelve and became the magical thirteen.
Looking back, she realized that all the memories of that year had been part of growing up. There was nothing that she could or in fact would want changed ….