A Tortuous Path Towards Happiness At Age 13 - It's A Jungle Out ThereThursday, March 10, 2011
What led to these pictures was a tortuous path of anticipation, disappointment, tears and finally a kiss on my cheek from Rebecca who told me, “Bye Papi and thank you.”
Tonight was the last dance of the year at Rebecca’s school. Rebecca is 13 and in the 8th grade and generally boys her age are idiots. I remember when I was 13. I was certainly an idiot.
But then even though I was one, I still had a date with the loveliest girl in the school. Still I manged to waste it all with my idiocy.
I was in the 8th grade in a two-room school house. In one room were the 8th, 7th and 6th grades. My mother was the teacher and I was in the 8th with five other boys. Ana María Ramos, a lively and beautiful (she had the largest, black almond-shaped eyes) she was love at first sight for me when my mother arrived at Nueva Rosita, Coahuila in Mexico. My mother had been hired by ASARCO (American Smelting & Refining Company) to teach the children of the engineers and doctors (Ana María’s father was the company doctor). In that class , I had to really be on my toes since my mother was not going to play favourites with her only son. She was extra hard on me. But I would still daydream and glance (when she was not looking) at the apparition that Ana María was. There was a school dance planned and lots were used to pick date and dance partners for it. Ana María came up to me and showed me a little piece of paper with my name on it. She told me, “I am your date.” I was flabbergasted and shocked and scared to death as I did not know how to dance. Whatever it is that happened at that dance, all I remember is that I was embarrassed. I know and remember no more. Yes, I was an idiot, but an idiot in simpler times.
But that does not mean what applied then applies now. Not a chance! We have heard enough of those silly comments that begin with, “Back in my time I used to walk (blank to fill in large numerical quantity) miles to go to school.”
Times are really different and much scarier and I don’t think I could have handled school now with the aplomb of my granddaughter.
She went from a smallish French immersion school to a large high school with hundreds of students in her 8th grade. Each class has different classmates so that it becomes more difficult to make friends or bond with them. It is all scattered and the school has cliques which are difficult to penetrate.
If you add to that the fact that my granddaughter has traveled a lot, she speaks three languages and knows the difference between a viola da gamba and a baroque cello and loves Erik Satie, you have a young girl who will intimidate the idiots (those hapless 13 year olds) even before they notice that she is graceful, beautiful and shapely.
Back in my day, I took a train or walked a couple of blocks to school; my friends all lived with their parents. Their parents, as was normal in those days, both lived at home in the same house. There was none of that, “She is with her dad this month because it is his month. She will be staying with her mom the next.” My daughter has yet to find a friend who might just say to her, “Before I can go to the movies with you I have to ask my mothers.” Or it could also be, “I have to ask my fathers.” Certainly times have changed!
Back in my day when I was Rebecca’s age I would go bowling across the street from where I lived with my mother the teacher at the American Hotel in Nueva Rosita. There were guards posted around the American compound that kept the “so-called-riff-raff” down in the town and away from any possible contact with we white folks. I did not know about crime and other stuff because I was not exposed to it. I was an idiot by ignorance.
It has only been of late that I have come to know the meaning of play dates and the amount of pre-planning that is needed to permit two young girls to spend the night together in slumber. One parent has to contact the other who contacts the other who then calls back to say the day is the wrong day and it all begins again.
Rebecca had planned for a couple of weeks in going with a friend to town to see the Justin Beiber documentary Never Say Never. Her friend chose to tell her father the day of the event and so it was all cancelled. Yours truly became Rebecca’s date for the movie.
It was another school dance where a friend of my granddaughter’s had promised to lend her a dress and make her up. At the last moment the girl, a neighbour that is very close by, did not show up.
For this dance the theme was the jungle. Rebecca’s parents immediately rejected my idea that she go in a Maureen O’Sullivan Jane outfit. I then suggested she go in a black dress with black ears and a tail and go as a black panther. Her dad suggested she wear jeans and black gloves and go as a Black Panther. All that was nixed when my granddaughter’s friend said she had a floral dress that was perfect. The day of the dance, today she did not show up.
Rebecca’s group of friends informed her that they were not going to the dance. Perhaps the reason is that they are as shy as the boys or simply do not know how to dance. Rebecca cancelled her plans to go. We persuaded and persuaded and finally she found out that another two friends were indeed going so she changed her mind.
I showed up today two hours before the dance. I had volunteered to take her with the proviso that I would wait outside until she told me that she was dancing. If she was going to end up being a wall flower I would have been outside to take her home.
My daughter Hilary found a dress that was zebra-like so that solved the problem. Rebecca made herself up and when she came down she was lovely. She posed for me and Rosemary and I took her to the dance.
It seems that the 13 year old boys still hug the walls and stare at the girls. Not one was brave enough to ask my Rebecca to dance. Rebecca and her girlfriends all danced together and had a great time.
When will idiots learn? Some things have not changed since my time when I did not walk four miles to school. But then with the great technical advances of our time, boys routinely dump their potential girl friends by texting. Imagine that!